Growing up I remember always hearing my friend’s parents tell us not to lift because it would “stunt our growth”. After growing up and researching this field, I have come to find that those claims couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I have come to find that abandoning resistance exercise altogether is one of the biggest disservices a parent can advise for their children!

While there are significant positive effects to having your son or daughter engage in a training program at a young age, it is vitally important to ensure your son or daughter is in the hands of a coach who is properly certified and trained on youth conditioning. A properly trained coach understands how to develop a young athlete from day one, all the way until adulthood. Through the tutelage of a certified coach, a young athlete will have a much greater chance of reaching his/her athletic potential as they mature through adolescence.

For the younger athletes (ages 5-11) it is important to build a foundation of strength rather than simply expecting them to understand and execute the intricacies of heavy resistance training. A trained coach understands that developing an athlete is “age-related” and not “age-determined.” meaning an 11-year-old athlete may be physically and mentally mature enough to handle the rigors of strength training, whereas a 13-year-old athlete may not be.


The importance of having a trained and certified coach train your son or daughter cannot be understated. A skilled coach is able to properly build the foundational strength necessary, properly assess the motor development of the youth thereby accurately advancing the youth to more weight bearing exercises when the youth is mature enough both physically and mentally.

An untrained coach will often push a young athlete whom is either ready, or not ready, to lift heavy weights which will result in improper technique, ultimately resulting in possible injury. Young athletes who are not ready for weight training should be trained through body-weight exercise such as squats, lunges, assisted push-ups, resistance band training, and medicine ball exercises. These type of activities promote the development of dynamic joint stability, dynamic balance, core stabilization, and overall athletic potential. Thereby placing an emphasis on motor skill development, the young athlete will eventually develop the necessary stabilizing muscles and balance allowing them to graduate onto heavier weight training, thus reducing injury during the various sports they may participate in.

At elite, we start all our young athletes in our youth athlete development program and will advance them to our sports performance training program once they have acquired the necessary skills, knowledge, and established a foundation from which to build upon.