T Nation

12 year old and weights

My 12 year old brother wants me to get him into a weight training regime. I’m happy to help him out and think its a good idea, but I’m wondering whether or not I should put him on a traditional beginners style routine or modify it to suit his younger body?

He plays Australian Rules Football 4 times a week (2 training, 2 games), so he’s getting lots of cardio at the moment. Ideally, I don’t want to push his body too hard. Therefore, I was thinking maybe having him do 1 or 2 weights sessions a week - both being full-body workouts. I was going to start him on body-weight squats, push-ups and other basic exercises that shouldn’t risk his safety while he’s learning the ropes.

Any other ideas, am I on the right track?

Definitley on the right track. Keep it all multi-joint and don’t let him go lower than 8RM so as not to risk injury and/or fracture to his growth plates.

Glad to see he’s interested. I’d say that the risk of him getting hurt from supervised strength training with weights is substantially less than that of him sustaining an injury from an impact during practice or a game.
In season I’d limit the weight training session frequency, sticking with the whole body approach. Have him stay in the 8-12 repetition range and keep his meal frequency up and watch the nutrition.

Off season I’d have him first lift to balance out his bodyparts. After that I’d then strengthen any areas he noticed were most involved in playing his position. Of course flexibility training is a must at all times.

Like I say when preaching to the parents at our gym about lifting for their children, lifting weights builds strength and confidence, increases coordination levels and reduces the risk of injury from sports they play.

I’d also try accessing Ian King’s website for more information.

Good luck.

I disagree. There is nothing wrong with training less than 8 RM, for youth, in fact it is preferable. Don’t train to failure but make progressive increases as technique gets better. At the end of a 15 rep set of squats or bench, the form will be terrible as muscle endurance is shot. Bill Starr shares similiar view. I’m not saying to max out, but I would advocate perhaps sets of 5, but stopping short of the last rep possible.

Rafael I disagree with you disagreeing :slight_smile: Here’s why. I agree that 15 rep sets would tend to lead to poor form. That’s why I said 8-12 reps per set. The reason is he’s already 12 years old and can presumably start putting on some mass for injury prevention(help take impacts etc.) I tend to stay away from sets of five because that leads into ego feeding displays of heavy lifting which can get a kid hurt. Also 8 reps allows you to build a reasonable amount of strength while building some natural muscle padding. Hopefully this won’t be the last time the boy lifts so he’s presumbably going to be a teenager soon and that means it’s going to be the best time for him to try to grow with all that natural testerone floating around inside of him. Get him used to hypertrophy ranges first in the muscle groups he uses for his sport, then off season build strength in the muscle groups we neglected during the season. Follow this with building strength in the muscle groups he’s about to use when the season resumes. Build endurance in his regular practice workouts.

I respect Bill Starr’s opinion but I also think that you can always teach a child to lift in the five rep range later but 8 -12 reps gives you a good balance between safe strength and endurance training.

I agree with phenomenon. When dealing with someone in/just entering adolesence, it’s best to err on the safe side and do a higher RM than hammer at it and risk possible growth limiting injury.