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Youth Weightlifting and bone density

We now have a pretty large team of youth lifters at Oxford Powersports, We have pretty much a 100% retention rate. However we don’t get a large influx of new lifters.

Part of this is that we cannot carry out any type of outreach work, for instance going in to schools, holding taster days. All the coaches here at OXP have demanding jobs, except me, I work with flower gardens in the day.

My “Uplifting Youth” team has 100% come from the Crossfit community, where I work quite a bit. This is by far the easiest route to promote lifting to the younger generation, the parents of these youngsters have already got an insight into the benefits of weight bearing exercise.

Our team range from ten to seventeen years, mostly sitting in the thirteen to fifteen bracket. The team is only prepared in the eight to twelve weeks prior to major competitions. This gives them time and space to partake in other exercise and to enjoy childhood. We maintain some Weightlifting activity during the “off season” so technique is kept to a base, we can also reset their body positions due to them growing.

Only in the last couple of years would any thought to “specialize” be taken.

British Weightlifting has two age limits presently, those being under fifteen and under seventeen. This is the “ British Youth Championships”

There are presently no age groups under these, but work is in process. Hoping by Summer 2018, we will have comps at national level for our younger lifters.

At the ages of fifteen to seventeen, the competitions are of maximum weight lifted, as opposed to a points scoring plus weight lifted system, for under thirteen lifters. The points scoring is obviously a great system, does away with the advantage being heavy loads, concentrating more on technical ability.

So what about the advantages of Weightlifting for youth?

Now I have described how the British system works, will they benefit?

Here are a few;

  • Discipline

  • Fitness

  • Confidence

  • Respect

These things it is likely we all know already, but there is a much more important “side effect” of properly constructed weight bearing exercise.

Bone density

This paragraph is taken from “Tortura’s Principles of Anatomy and Physiology” 15th Edition.

“Weight-bearing activities such walking or moderate weight lifting, help build and retain bone mass. Adolescents and young adults should engage in regular weight-bearing exercise prior to the closer of the epiphyseal plates to help build total mass prior to it’s inevitable reduction with aging. However people of all ages can and should strengthen their bones by engaging in weight-bearing exercises”.

Within this paragraph are a couple of things of great interest:

  • “Weight-bearing exercise prior to the closure of epiphyseal plates”

  • “People of all ages can and should strengthen their bones by engaging in weight-bearing exercise”

I will write further on these subjects, as I think we have a new generation of lifters, the middle aged. It is no longer the younger generation that has embraced lifting, for physical improvement.

If you are not in the “Youth” category, as I have previously written, a Squat, Pull and Press is enough. They are not super complicated, you do need coaching in them to stay safe. Most people I know from my work, tend to keep learning through to the Weightlifting “Classics” the “Snatch” and the “Clean and Jerk”.

There are many smaller exercises that make up the two big lifts, so if you want there is plenty of variation.

Just a note, I would only prescribe what works, not the coolest exercise on “Instagram”. Too many people suffer from this illness.

Taking part in these will help you retain bone density, reduce muscle atrophy and generally make you feel much better.

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