Hmmmm well before I answer that let me ask you a few questions.
Do your kid play sports?
Ok, do they jump, fall, run, throw and collide with any other players during their sport?
Do they play on the playgrounds? Jump from the swings and climb the monkey bars?
If you answered yes then give yourself a big pat on the back. Keep your kids as physically active as possible.
Take a look at what your kid’s bodies are doing when they are playing sports and on the playground. They are squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling and jumping.
Now ask yourself what your kid is doing when he/she is lifting weights.
They are squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling and jumping. Booya!
I know you are probably thinking:
“Well yeah that is true but that’s not enough for me to allow my kids to lift weights, I heard it stunts their growth and I don’t want them looking all bulky.”
Well study after study argues different. Here are 3 just to show you:
- Strength Training For Children: A review of research literature
- Strength Training For Children: Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics
- Relative Safety of Children Lifting Weights: Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
You can read these studies and more if you really want to, but let me just break it down for ya……
Before puberty, kids are just not equipped with the hormones needed for big gains in muscle mass and strength. It’s just not there yet. Does that mean we just say screw it, we will just wait till puberty happens? HECK NO!
There are tons of benefits to your kids learning to lift weights at a young age. Notice I said “learning.”
Here are 5 to get you started.
Amongst all of these reasons lies the # 1 reason of Injury Prevention
1) Form For Life!
The sooner your kids start to lift weights with perfect form the better. If they can learn how to do it now they will be able to do it when they are older, on their own and unsupervised.
2) Stronger Bones
How do we get stronger bones? It’s not just drinking milk. Kids have to load their bones in order for them to become strong. Bones break themselves down to rebuild and become stronger. By taking an external load (say a 15 lb. dumbbell) and making your kid squat with perfect form you are actually preventing injuries. You are allowing them to learn the form and helping that process of bone rebuilding happen.
Kids are goofy. I love kids. Not just because of the things they say, but the way they move.
I notice it so much with kids who are around 10-12 years old. The kids who just hit a huge growth spurt and don’t know what to do with their bodies. When a great trainer teaches a young person the right form (let’s say with a walking dumbbell lunge) he/she is not only getting stronger, but also they are learning how to coordinate and balance their bodies in a good position. It takes a lot of coordination, balance and flexibility to hold a weight and perform a proper walking lunge. The more they practice it, the better they become!
4) Core Development
The core controls everything when we are moving. Think of a young kid driving the lane for a layup in basketball. When he gets down low he is going to have contact with another player. If his/her core has a weak core it will be tough for that athlete to stay on their feet and score the basket.
There’s a ton of core exercise like a front plank or sit-ups, but lifting weights is really where you can develop a strong core.
Think of something as simple as a standing shoulder press. In order for them to stand up straight while lifting the weights they have to engage their core!
Yeah! They are going to sweat. Yeah I know you know the benefits of exercise. Too bad though, I’m going to remind:
- Self Confidence
- Injury Prevention
- Fat Loss
- Better Sleep
- Better Focus
- Better Heart
- Stronger Bones
- Stronger Muscles
So are you with me now? You feel me dawg?
Great! So what should you do to get started?
Step # 1 Find a trainer
Look at their backgrounds and certifications. Did they play sports? Are they certified by a legit association? Here are some legit ones = CSCS, ACE-CPT, NASM, SCCC
Step # 2 Get Them Assessed
Take them to your nearest training facility (preferably Xceleration) and ask them to do some type of performance assessment with your kid. We do the FMS test.
Step # 3 Invest in a program
You are investing in something that your kid will take with them for the rest of their lives. Get them on a program that allows them to train at least 2x/week. You will thank yourself for it later when your kid is injury free and playing college athletics.
Lastly and most important.
Children are not adults.
A lifting program for a young kid (before puberty) will not lead your kid to making huge gains in weight or adding 50 lbs. to his/her bench press. Before puberty kids simply are not equipped with the hormones needed for significant muscle mass gains and strength gains.
The program should not make kids do things they are not ready to do. Keep it engaging and challenging, but do not push them like they are college athletes trying out for the pros. You will ruin the experience for them and even worse you could end up injuring them.
Keep it safe, fun and effective.