I hear a lot of misinformation about whether or not young female athletes should strength train. I hear people say that it’s unsafe, it can stunt the growth of children, and it can make a girl too “bulky”. I can assure you that none of these things are scientifically supported. Instead, there are many proven ways strength training can greatly benefit a young female athlete.
1. Increases Mental Toughness: Let’s face it...alot of things in life are hard. They’re hard but we must do them over and over and over and nobody is going to do them for us. Now the goal as a parent is to make our kids the best equipped to handle and succeed at the hard things life constantly throws at them, right? Lifting weights is the PERFECT environment for teaching kids the life skills they’ll need throughout their life to be successful. What lifting weights does is teaches girls that they can fail at something and keep going. They get back up and they keep working towards that thing they want to accomplish until they do. And when they do the exercise right or they get that big weight they wanted to hit they feel SO good. And it empowers them to keep doing those hard things with the mindset that they will succeed. These lessons go WAY beyond their athletic career.
2. Teaches Healthy Habits Young: Learning how to properly lift weights and eat right for their goals sets a child up for the rest of their life. Learning it now at a young age will decrease the chance of weight and health problems later on as an adult.
3. Improves Body Image: A study was done on middle school girls and it showed that 40-70% of girls in 7th and 8th grade are dissatisfied with 2 or more parts of their body. Girls who start a strength training routine early on understand that they can be fast and strong and accomplish what they want on and off the field. They can see their body for what it can do not just for what it looks like or how much they weigh.
4. Decreases The Risk Of Injury: Female athletes have a higher incidence of lower-limb injuries than male athletes with studies showing that they are 5 times more likely to sustain a non-contact ACL injury than their male counterparts.This is predominantly linked to lack of strength, incorrect movement patterns and flexibility imbalances in the lower limbs, differences in the pelvis, and hormone fluctuations. This risk can be decreased significantly with a proper strength training program and coaching. Since female athletes are more likely to get injured than males & the lack of strength & muscle imbalances are the primary cause of injury doesn't it make sense to prevent this earlier on?
5. Improves Sport Performance: Strength training for young athletes improves mobility, stability, coordination, strength, and movement efficiency. On the field, this results in improved speed, agility, quickness and conditioning. You must be stronger in order to be faster, more powerful, and more reactive!
I hope this information was helpful and I hope you use it when considering whether or not your young female athlete should be lifting weights...."Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we raise them, may we be them."