StrongKids – the future, or just dangerous?
I can’t think of a single Strongman/woman competition I have been involved in where there hasn’t been a kid leaning over the fence, a look of awe across their face, their little head trying to grapple with the concept of how a human being can lift a car, pull a truck, or lift boulders. In fact, they make the best spectators, because they don’t really care how many red plates are on a barbell, they just want to see someone carry motor bikes or throw kegs.
In many cases, it might be their own mum or dad, brother or sister that is on the other side of the fence. And until they become difficult teenagers and don’t want anything to do with what their olds are doing, they look up to mum and dad, so there is a good chance they would like to give it a go themselves.
But, if you are reading this, you have probably either trained or competed in strongman events, buckled under crippling yoke weights, browned out pulling max dead lifts, torn the skin off your forearms on stones, and you think to yourself, is this what we want our kids to be doing?
Well this article is designed to create a frame work for constructive discussion, rather than conveying a specific point of view (I don’t even have kids!), but one thing is for sure, as the sport grows, it will no longer be the realm of slightly busted-up powerlifters, or crossfitters who don’t like burpees or running; when the kids do come, just like every other sport on the planet (including lawn bowls, MMA and everything in between), it will be there game.
Building strong bodies – let’s take a step back for just a moment and consider the use of strongman training techniques for general day to day strength, rather than competition (that comes later). Can strongman be scaled back enough to be used with developing bodies? Is moving heavy and awkward objects as useful (or more) to a growing kid, as being able to run, swim or kick a foot ball/swing a tennis racquet?
‘Strength training/heavy weight training stunts kids growth’ – I’m not a scientist. I can’t answer this. I’m not sure scientists can answer this yet. I do know what the result of NO strength training/conditioning has on a child though...
Increased risk of injury – We have all had them, in varying degrees. Bulged disks, ruptured biceps, torn ligaments, the list goes on, and no parent would want to expose their kid to that. But just in case you didn’t notice, kids will always find a way to bust themselves up anyway. Skateboards, push bikes, fidget spinners (wait, scratch that one), most family’s will have seen many a plaster cast at the kitchen table. And we haven’t even addressed the ‘normal’ sports here, football, netball, cricket, hockey. Is strongman really any more dangerous? Humans are humans, they will push themselves, often too far, in any competition, at any age, and injury is often the result.
And I would question this as well, are we oldies at an even HIGHER risk of injury because we didn’t start strength training early enough???
Drug use – Yes, strongman competition is an unregulated sport with regards to PHD’s. Does that mean little Jimmy starts a cycle the same day he picks up a barbell for the first time? I don’t think so. And falling back to previous arguments, every sport has its drug problems; the Essendon football club, Lance Armstrong, almost every Olympic sport that requires human movement, so again, is strongman really any worse?
Lets open this up to everyone, parents, athletes in the sport who trained with their parents, those that didn’t. Put forward ideas on how and where they start, specific competitions setup for youth, limitations on what you feel they shouldn’t do.