What Are The Benefits Of Strength Training For Children?
The benefits of resistance training for children include increased strength, improved coordination, increased body awareness, positive body image and injury prevention for sports and recreational activities. Pre-pubescent children may not have the adequate levels of hormones to increase muscle mass, but they can still increase strength through greater muscle activation and recruitment.
How Young Is Too Young To Start?
This simple answer is there is no minimum age. However to participate in a structured strength training program using weights and resistance equipment, children should have the maturity and discipline to follow instructions and concentrate on what they are doing when performing exercises. So as a basic rule of thumb, if a child is old enough to follow the instructions of a coach when playing a sport, they should be able to follow the instructions of a coach when performing strength exercises.
What Sort Of Exercises Are Appropriate For Children?
Exercises which involve multiple joints and muscle groups such as squats, lunges and pull ups should form the basis of a youth strength training program. This is because they encourage coordination development and are functional movements which are often replicated in sports and daily activities.
Can Children Lift Heavy Weights?
The emphasis of a strength training program for kids should first and foremost be on correct technique and coordination development. External resistance should only be added to an exercise once the child can demonstrate correct technique. From then as long as correct technique is being maintained, external resistance can then be added as tolerated. This is where the skills of an experienced Exercise Physiologist or Strength and Conditioning Coach are required to closely monitor technique and resistance.
Is Resistance Training Safe For Children?
Many research studies have shown that resistance training which is appropriately prescribed and supervised by an adequately qualified individual such as an Exercise Physiologist or Strength and Conditioning Coach, is not only safe but beneficial for children and adolescents. In fact rates of injury in appropriately supervised and prescribed strength programs for kids are far less than most other competitive sports which children regularly participate in.
Written by Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates
Your daily energy expenditure is largely determined by what is called your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) which means the amount of energy you expend at rest to keep your body functioning. RMR is largely determined by the amount of lean muscle mass you have, the more you have the greater your RMR is. Regular resistance training can increase your lean muscle mass, therefore increasing your RMR, increasing your daily energy expenditure.
What Sort Of Resistance Training Should I Perform?
Strength training using large muscle groups involving multiple joint movements is best for increasing energy expenditure and increasing lean muscle mass. Examples of such exercises you can perform in the gym include squats, bench press, lunges and lat pull-down.
But Won’t Strength Training Make Me Look Like Arnie?
This is a common concern of many people who just want to use strength training to lose fat, rather than get big and bulky. The simple answer is no. Moderate intensity resistance training using large muscle groups 2-3 times per week is not enough to make you into the incredible hulk. It will increase your lean muscle mass, but this will just give the appearance of slightly more toned muscles with a decrease in overall body fat.
Written By Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates
Five Common Exercise Technique Mistakes And How To Correct Them
1. Squatting With Poor Knee Control
A common mistake people make when doing a squat is letting their knees come forward over their toes. To correct this it is important to start a squatting movement from your hips, sticking your bottom back like you are sitting into a chair, keeping your knees back behind your toes and putting your weight through your heels. When squatting down it is also important that you keep your feet and knees slightly wider than hip width apart rather than letting your knees come in together.
2. Pulling Shoulders Up When Doing A Seated Row
When performing a seated row it is very easy to pull back as hard as you can and hitch your shoulders up towards your ears. However what you should be doing is pulling your shoulder blades back and down, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you row without lifting your shoulders up. This will promote good posture as well as recruitment of the correct muscles throughout this exercise. One easy way to remember this is as you are doing the exercise think about keeping your shoulders away from your ears.
3. Bending Back During A Lat Pull Down
Watching people on the lat pull-down machine at the gym can be a cringe worthy experience. Too often you see people trying to pull too much resistance and bending back using their lower back to heave the weight down, rather than using their lats , upper back and biceps to do the work. To perform a lat pull-down with correct technique you should have a slight curve in your lower back and maintain this position throughout the movement. As you pull the bar down you should pull your shoulder blades back and down and draw your elbows in towards your rib cage. Another good way to remember to use your lat muscles is to think like you want to squeeze a ball in your arm pits.
4. Not Controlling A Movement Through Full Range Of Motion
When performing resistance training exercises it is easy to perform an exercise through part of a muscle’s range of motion, such as a bicep curl from an already flexed elbow position to a fully flexed elbow position or just letting the weight drop on the way back down. It is important to perform an exercise such as this from a position of full elbow extension to full elbow flexion and then controlling it back to the start position in a slow and controlled manor. This applies to all strength training exercises as it will strengthen the muscles through their full length as well as strengthening the concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) phases of movement.
5. Holding Breathe When Lifting Weights
Breathe holding is a common mistake that a lot of people make when putting in a large effort while exercising, especially when lifting weights. This is called the “Valsalva manoeuvre” and is a common practice of many highly trained Olympic and power lifting athletes. However this is a dangerous practice, especially for regular gym goers who are not as highly trained as these athletes as it causes a significant increase in blood pressure. When performing strength training exercises normal slow and controlled breathing should be encouraged. A handy tip is to time your breathing with your movement such as slowly breathing out during the up phase of a lift and slowly breathing in during the down phase of a lift.
Written By Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health
Quite often poor posture or weakness in postural muscles is a large contributing factor to conditions such as neck, shoulder and back pain. Improving posture is also one of the most common goals of our clients at MD Health.
How Can Pilates Improve Posture?
Strengthening the main stabilising and postural muscles of the body’s joints is a key principle to Pilates. The sort of exercises which we prescribe at MD Health have a strong emphasis on using these muscles correctly by encouraging correct exercise technique with highly specific movements.
Who Can Benefit From Improving Posture?
Poor posture is particularly prevalent in people who spend a lot of their day sitting at a desk or computer such as office workers and students. For people such as this, exercises to strengthen the muscles which control posture are very important as they spend the majority of their day in a position which does not promote good posture, such as sitting at a computer.
For some examples of some exercises and stretches to promote good posture when sitting at a desk, check out the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycRNpQ-Qiy
Written By Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health
Core stability is the ability to control the lumbar spine, using the deep abdominal muscles, in particular two main muscles called:
(source of picture – http://rlcoaching.co.uk/?p=698)
Why Is Core Stability Important For Lower Back Pain?
In general, the lumbar spine is held stable at the end of its range by passive structures, such as the discs, which lie between each vertebra, the major ligaments, that run between the vertebrae, both of which limit forward bending. The facet joints, which sit near the back of the vertebrae, limit backwards bending. However, most movements occur in the mid part of range of lower back movement, such as sitting, standing and most lifting. In this range, these passive structures are not on stretch, therefore do not support the back against strain. This is where the core stabilisers work, by contracting, they limit the excessive movement at each vertebrae, so that movement is controlled. If this does not occur, it puts excessive strain on other structures, such as the discs or facet joints, causing pain. The core stabilisers prevent this from happening.
Where Can I Start With Core Stability Training
The most basic exercise is lying on your back, knees bent. Put your hand on your abdomen, below your belly button. From there, without flattening the back, draw you stomach in, away from your hand. Hold for 3 seconds, then release.
This is a basic exercise and your treating practitioner can guide you in your further exercises.
Does Having Poor Core Stability Cause Back Pain?
No, poor core stability does not cause back pain, but allows more strain on other structures, such as the discs and facet joints, which cause pain. Treatment to reduce pain from these structures is important in managing injury together with core stability training.