Key Components of a Youth Fitness Program
Constantly I am asked at what age my child should participate in a fitness program. My answer is always the same. No matter what age if it is a properly designed program the child would receive benefits. When training the youth athlete the focus should not be on weight training and hypertrophy. Their bodies are still in the developmental stage and having the opportunity to enhance their movement quality is something that is paramount to their future athletic success. Below is a list of four components that should be a part of any youth developmental fitness program. By following these guidelines kids have the foundation that will ensure optimal development in whatever sport they wish to pursue.
- Body Weight Movement-as previously stated children do not need to “lift weights” to receive an athletic stimulus. Simply challenging them with appropriate age related body weight exercises will enhance their athletic potential. Bodyweight training will help build a strong structural base and help build anaerobic endurance, allowing the youth athlete to continue to be efficient and functional.
- Work Capacity-children do not need to run miles upon miles to be fit. Structuring their fitness program in a progressive manner where they do more work over less time will increase their fitness capabilities. Examples of this are times sets with minimal rest. Always program at the level of the participant.
- Agility work-many parents and athletes confuse agility work with running around cones and various ladder drills. What most people do not realize is that agility is not developed by making an athlete run around a pre-determined pattern. Agility is the ability to decelerate and change directions. This is trained by enhancing body awareness and motor coordination. Learning how to control one’s own body weight on a single leg, weighted carries and bodyweight skills train dynamic management of the body’s center of mass thus enhancing agility.
- Keep if fun-for the youth athlete keeping them interested while enhancing athletic development is of the upmost importance. Use of ropes, kettlebells, and sandbags not only develop a child fitness potential but they are fun tools to use. Implementing these into a fitness program will keep kids coming back and help lay the foundation for their athletic endeavors.