Weight Training for Kids Tips – Weight Training for kids tips from gym rat dad and former personal trainer mom. The best age for starting your child on a weight lifting program is subjective.
What’s the best age for starting your child on a weight training program? I was planning to hold off weight lifting with my son until he reached puberty. Instead, I started him a bit early, at 10 years old, for a variety of reasons.
My son is fairly athletic and, like me at his age, underweight. I wanted my son to begin weight training to gain confidence for his upcoming junior high school years and to help him athletically. The biggest reason I wanted my son to begin weight training at an early age was to teach him discipline that would benefit him many areas of life. I felt that starting him early would give him an edge in areas of schoolwork and concentration. I wanted to help instill a solid work ethic and I wanted to start as soon as possible. I also wanted to begin his body’s process for muscle memory so strength comes easy when his body starts to develop at puberty. It’s not really about size and strength gains for him, at least not yet.
Thankfully, I have all the weight training for kids tools (and more) – the education and the equipment. I’ve been weight lifting at an intermediate but non-competitive level since I was 14 years old (I’m 42 now). My wife was a personal trainer at Powerhouse Gym when we first met and was very helpful in putting a kid’s weight training routine together.
My wife and I met at a gym. Instead of constantly re-upping our gym memberships, we used the money to begin building our own home gym when we married and have slowly added to it over the years. So, our home gym consists of: an Olympic weight bench, an incline bench, treadmill, a Smith machine with pulley cables, dumbbells galore, resistance bands and all the bars and attachments.
If you’re looking to start a home gym for weight training from ground zero, don’t fret if you don’t as much weight training equipment as I do. My wife and I started small and slowly added. A bench, some free weights, some dumbbells and an Olympic 45 lb bar and curl bar should be more than sufficient to start. Weight training equipment lasts forever and is a great investment if you’re trying to instill a lifetime of health and fitness. My equipment is as functional now as it was when I began buying my own gym equipment in 1992 (and mine gets use almost daily).
Safety is paramount in terms of weight training for kids. Weights get dropped, form isn’t perfect and you have to be ready to dictate the flow of the workout. Make sure all shoes and proper gloves are worn and NEVER leave a child alone with a spotter. I spot my son in every aspect of his weightlifting – the bars and weights are never more than an inch away from my grasp in any exercise he is performing. Form and muscle memory are difficult to learn at any age – especially for kids.
I wanted my son’s workouts to be simple and incorporate every muscle group. I keep his workouts very short (about a half-hour) and try to implement a lot of variety (see below). Basically, I use the Presidential-style fitness tests that the schools in gym class to measure fitness (situps, push ups, chin ups etc) and cater the workout on how to improve those facets. My son does the following workout 3 days a week and it’s been a great introduction to what I hope is a lifetime of health and fitness.
WEIGHT TRAINING FOR KIDS TIPS – SAMPLE WORKOUT
- STRETCHING – 2 minutes
- PUSH UPS – 1 set (like his school gym class test)
- CHEST – 2 sets of 10 reps (mix of bench press, inclines, flys)
- BACK – 2 sets of 10 reps (mix of lat pull downs, chin ups – overhand or underhand)
- SHOULDERS – 2 sets of 10 reps (mix of curl bar military press, dumbbell press, lateral raises)
- TRICEPS – 2 sets of 10 (mix of triceps extensions bar, triceps extension dumbbell, “skullcrushers”, triceps push ups)
- BICEPS – 2 sets of 10 (mix of curl bar curls, dumbbell curls)
- LEGS – 1 long set of deep knee bends
- SIT UPS – 1 set timed (1 minute like his school gym class test)
I use a reverse pyramid style for determining weights. We determine the most weight he can do and get 10 reps out of for the first set and for the second set we decrease the weight to get him to another 10 reps. EXAMPLE: 1st set of bench press is 45 lbs at 10 reps / 2nd set of bench press is 35 lbs at 10 reps. The above workout is a condensed version (mine are about 4 sets per muscle) of the same workout I’ve done religiously for decades.
WEIGHT TRAINING FOR KIDS TIPS
- Never let a child weight train alone
- Never let a child lift weights without a spotter
- Always use proper equipment (non-slip shoes and padded gloves)
- Make sure form is perfect – if a child is “cheating” the weight is too
- Teach breathing (in through the nose, out through the mouth, exhale on
- the release, inhale before the push)
- All free weights must be collared
- Turn up the music and have fun
My son is responding well to our weight training for kids exercise program. He’s been weightlifting for over a year and has seen tremendous improvement in his confidence, strength and focus. His sports have improved and the benefits have even parlayed to academic success. Weight training with my son in the basement has been a rewarding bonding experience for us both.
The most difficult part of weightlifting for kids is the time and dedication by the parent or guardian. You literally have to on-guard to spot and move them from exercise to exercise for safety reasons and to make sure they’re working hard without putting themselves at risk for injury. Determining which weights to start which muscle groups is very difficult. So is determining when a child is ready to “move up” in weight. The standard for adults is true for kids – if they’re getting their last set of any exercise in at 10 reps with little effort, they’re ready to move up in weight.
If you have any questions about weight training for kids, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.