In the latest article in the Science of Bodybuilding series, we’ve gathered information on muscle training for children and adolescents.
About Muscle Training for Children and Adolescents (8–18 Years)
There is no consensus in the scientific community about whether or not building muscle at a young age affects height growth. The main reason for this is the narrowness of the studies in this field and the results of the existing studies that are open to interpretation or inconsistent. It is possible to attribute this inconsistency to the growth tendencies arising from the physiological and genetic differences of the individuals. Despite this, the American Academy of Pediatrics states in their statement that proper muscle work has no known negative effect on growth. Many muscle trainers (trainers) state that the subject is a myth and there is no problem in working out muscles at a young age in line with this statement.
Working out or being muscular doesn’t do you any harm (at least, as agreed by the scientific community) for your growth; However, another point to be noted at this point is this: There are serious hormonal changes in your body until the age of 16 in males and 13–14 in females, and your hormonal structure that will cause your muscles to swell has not yet developed due to the evolutionary reasons we have just mentioned. That’s why you don’t see people with huge muscles at a very early age, no matter how hard they work, these muscles do not develop (we assume that there is no steroid effect — which is one of the hormones we mentioned). Therefore, instead of aiming to gain large muscle masses at this age, you can actively do sports, keep the muscles vigorous, lead a healthy life and make preliminary preparations for the muscles you will develop after your hormonal structure is balanced. Remember, building muscle is not a rush job, because your body can’t build muscle (or fiber) in a rush. Don’t be in a hurry and keep in mind that this is an effort that will take years.
We talked about steroids a moment ago. Steroids are one of the easiest ways to stop your growth and have growth/development issues. Therefore, stay away from these hormones and never consume them at a young age (even in adulthood). You can develop your muscles more or less in any form and at any age. However, your height will not increase after the age of 18–20, or it will increase slightly. You don’t want to interfere with your development in a chemical way like this. Because these chemicals are normally produced in our body; but they are produced in accordance with your age. If you take supportive hormones such as steroids, these chemicals will activate different genes in your body and slow down and stop cell divisions before your growth is complete.
We advise young people who are confused about this to sleep well, drink plenty of water, do not neglect their breakfast, and exercise daily (such as cardio work after stretching and then lifting loads under the supervision of a trainer). Again, we would like to add some of the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics here:
Young people who will start muscle training must first undergo a medical examination. People with problems such as hypertension, cancer (even if it has been overcome), cardiomyopathy, Marfan syndrome, and overweight should be kept under medical supervision and work programs should be prepared according to their conditions. In addition, those who have previous injuries and injuries should carry out their work carefully.
Since balance and posture abilities in human species develop at the age of 7–8, it is not correct to start weight training before this age.
It should be noted that the equipment and equipment in many gyms are designed for adults! Tools that are not used properly can cause serious injuries as we have mentioned in the article before.
Sudden and excessive lifting is never recommended.
In children and adolescents, 8–15 repetitions with 10% load increases seem appropriate during muscle training. More repetitions with lighter loads may also be appropriate. Average weight loads that will not be overly strained should be preferred. In order to be successful, at least 20–30 minutes of training should be done and these exercises should not exceed 2–3 times a week. Studies show that training more than 4 times a week does not do any extra work, and even increases the risk of injury. There should not be more than 10 students per trainer in the studies. 10–15 minute warm-ups before the work should not be interrupted. After the training, 10–15 minutes of cool-down should be done.
Pre-adolescents (children) and adolescents should refrain from power-lifting and muscle building training until they reach puberty.
Anabolic steroids and other chemicals that support performance should not be used.
This article is an excerpt from by Karl Liebermann | Jun, 2022 | Medium