“Lifting weights too much causes injury”

“If you train outside of the high school weight room you will get hurt.”

“If you train anywhere outside of the high school weight room, you can play your sport somewhere else too…”

These are all real things high school coaches have said to athletes in our area. It’s sad and unfortunate that an athlete who wants to be better…who wants to put in the work to get ahead of their peers and their competition, is discouraged from doing so. It’s even worse that the athletes are led to believe they will actually get hurt from training.

A recent meta-analysis from the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows the exact opposite to be true!

Strength training, in a supervised setting, leads to a dose-dependant response in injury prevention for athletes.

🚨IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR PARENTS OF ATHLETES🚨

The work our athletes do at Teamwork Bloomington IS NOT the same as the weight room at school. A school weights class is an awesome opportunity for kids, but it's also a recipe for disaster (and discouragement) when you throw 60+ inexperienced kids into a weightoom with 1-2 coaches. We teach athletes how to move, prescribe age and skill appropropriate exercise, and develop the athletes over time. We do not throw them into a chaotic group, load up a bar on their back, then hope for the best.

One of the most selfish, ridiculous things a coach can do to a young athlete is to discourage additional strength training (with qualified coaches) outside of the high school weight room. We are HELPING kids become better adults. We are helping many kids earn college scholarships. We are not causing injuries.

Bottom line: Strength training DOES NOT cause overuse injuries. Strength training DOES NOT “get kids hurt”.

Check this out...

Excerpts from the meta-analysis I mentioned above:

  • “We hypothesise that the indirect acute injury prevention effect works through mechanisms of strength training-related carry-over effect with improved coordination, enhanced technique in training/match situations, strengthening of adjacent tissues reducing critical joint loads and better psychological perception of high-risk situations.”

  • “These studies support the notion that overuse injuries occur when tissues are chronically overloaded, and we suggest that preventive mechanisms, besides simply evading pain triggers or reducing the amount of training/competition in burdened periods, could include preconditioning, tissue-relieving variation in exercises and loads, and carry-over of improved coordination/technique from a strength training prevention programme, potentially beneficially altering load distributions in the tissues and joints.”

  • “Based on the included studies, we recommend a familiarisation/technique phase prior to gradual volume and intensity progressing phases. This approach will address key parameters and mechanisms for acute and overuse injuries for both the strength training intervention and the often concurrent participation in sport or other physical activities.” - In other words, train IN-season.

  • “The evidence clearly points towards strengthening failure thresholds of relevant tissues, sufficient technique and psychological preparedness to prevent acute injuries and gradual tissue conditioning, sufficient technique and training variation to prevent overuse injuries. Preliminary phases may seem irrelevant to eager athletes/clubs, ‼️ however we consider the initial phases of injury prevention to be a critical investment, especially as injuries inevitably constitute delays and setbacks in relation to the very same goals as the original sport participation‼️Initiation in off-season or less demanding periods would be advantageous, especially in relation to overuse injuries. Additionally, interventions have been shown to prevent injuries and also to improve sport performance, which is an important aspect for coaches and athletes.” - "A critical investment"...this says a lot.

  • "Thorough consideration should be given to sufficient programme volumes and intensities. The dose–response relationship found in our analyses supports the hypothesis that strength improvement and injury prevention are closely related. Neither qualitative nor quantitative analyses showed that children and adolescents warrant significantly different approaches; however, we recommend avoidance of explosive loads together with at least equal emphasis on qualified instruction, competent supervision, appropriate volume and intensity progression as in adults. Supervision, short-term periodisation, long-term variation, %RM-individualised loads and appropriate rest periods can profitably be incorporated." -

One thing that strands out: supervision...is the high school weight room TRULY supervised? Is your athlete, one of the 60 or more in the class, actually being watched/coached/corrected/encouraged? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that is 100% the case at Teamwork. Ideally, we teach the athletes how to move and train so that they CAN train safely and pain-free at school.

Here’s my opinion on this whole thing.

What does and HAS led to injury or prevented an injury from healing?

  • 🤕 Allowing athletes, teenage males, in particular, to compete in "max outs" and attempting reps they sinpky aren't ready for, with sloppy technique. This often happens without supervision. I see it on the athletes Snapchat stories at least 1-2x per week.

  • 🤕 Asking/Expecting an athlete to perform exercises that HURT. There is always an alternative. Good coaches realize that athletes are very driven and most seek to please their coaches. They will, often stubbornly, perform what's "on the whiteboard" that day even if it's irritating existing injuries or reinforcing bad movement patterns.

  • 🤕 Asking/expecting an athlete to perform exercises he/she is not ready for. (Example: Take an athlete who cannot squat down without feet turning out, knees caving in, or heels lifting off the ground...stick a barbell on their back. Ask them to perform the same movement they could not execute well WITHOUT the load on their spine...what is the expected outcome?)

(Sidenote: even worse than discouraging, some local coaches have threaten a child’s position on the team... for trying to get better. Yes, this has happened multiple times.)

If you would like to learn more about what we do at Teamwork Bloomington, let us know! I would love to meet in person or set up a call to see if we can help you or your child achieve their athletic goals happily and healthily.