T Nation

13 Y/O Female Starting Training?

I tried this over on the T-Vixen section previously, but haven’t gotten any responses.

I have a 13 year old female relative that has recently shown interest in weight training and has asked me if I would show her the ropes as far as form, routines, etc. From what I have read in recent years, it seems as though the “weights will stunt your growth” deal has been labeled as myth. Most of the information I have come across seems to lean more towards it being alright for individuals to train once they hit puberty, which this girl has.

I wanted to get some of your thoughts/suggestions on this matter. Thank you.

Not only is chronological age important, but mental maturity as well. Is she capable of showing the maturity of being able to exercise in a safe manner? I see too many young kids goofing off at the gym.

That being said, at this age it’s really important to focus on form first and utmost. Incorporate a majority of bodyweight exercises before attempting loaded exercises. Think pushups, chinups, squats, lunges, etc.

Some agility work wouldn’t be bad either to incorporate, more so if she is interested in any sports.

Just be sure to work around joints of the body equally in a 1:1 ratio of example of push to pull exercises.

Hope that can get you started.

What he^ said. And be conservative with volume. Less is more at her age.

Personally I’d get her doing ballet, martial arts, gymnastics or track and field for 2-3 years then move onto weights when she has more endurance, coordination etc… and so forth.

I have nothing against someone so young working out with weights just that it is a bit inefficient. If she was a boy, that would be different. But all those other pursuits are perhaps more appropriate at that very young age.

Oh and maybe rockclimbing if she isn’t stupid and likely to fall off.

Otherwise take a look at this

Has a bit in the book about training for the young. Good book, too.

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
Personally I’d get her doing ballet, martial arts, gymnastics or track and field for 2-3 years then move onto weights when she has more endurance, coordination etc… and so forth.

I have nothing against someone so young working out with weights just that it is a bit inefficient. If she was a boy, that would be different. But all those other pursuits are perhaps more appropriate at that very young age.
[/quote]

That’s contradictory. Weight training could help anybody with ballet, MA, gymnastics, track, and pretty much everything else.

“If she was a boy, that would be different.” So she shouldn’t lift weights because she’s a girl? It doesn’t matter what your reasons for saying that are. It’s not a comment that belongs here.

What Jehovas said is about right. I would have her do whole-body 2-3 times a week using a beginner’s routine. No more and no less.

[quote]BFBullpup wrote:
That’s contradictory. Weight training could help anybody with ballet, MA, gymnastics, track, and pretty much everything else…

“If she was a boy, that would be different.” So she shouldn’t lift weights because she’s a girl? It doesn’t matter what your reasons for saying that are. It’s not a comment that belongs here.

What Jehovas said is about right. I would have her do whole-body 2-3 times a week using a beginner’s routine. No more and no less.[/quote]

I third the motion.

Weight training will supplement ANY athletic pursuit she decides to undertake. I don’t care if it’s ballet, bowling, or billiards, a good weight training program will give her an early start on getting to know her body.

Since she’s young, now would be the perfect time to stress strict, controlled movements.

Whole body would be great. Aside from gently increasing the weights over time, you might also focus on shorter rest between sets (as time goes on) for better overall fitness.

I appreciate the responses. The body weight focused compound movements are what I had in mind. I will however, on some movements, add an appoprate, very light load, (she’s going to be using only dumbbells due to what she has available.) I’ve ran her through some movements and it’s amazing how quick she seemed to pick up on the form.

My line of thought as far as progression is to find a load, normally bodyweight to light db’s that she can do with excellent form and weekly add a few reps per set. Not anywhere close to failure but enough of an addition to offer a bit of a stimulus from the previous one.

Once again, thanks for the opinions.

The above suggestions are great. I started messing around with weights at about that age too, and have grown up just fine!

A few things that are essential to focus on:

  1. Proper form.
  2. The right attitude.
  3. Balance. In training, and in lifestyle.

Good luck!

One other note. Be sure to incorporate a warm-up and a post-exercise flexibilty routine.

As far as warm-up do a dynamic one of arm circles (forward and reverse), high knees, butt kicks, grapevine- all done while jogging. This kills 2 birds with one stone so to speak.

In the past I’ve worked with TONS of young athletes. I started out with figure skaters… many of whom actually started at a much younger age than 13. Then I was the head strength-coach for a sport-studies program which had over 700 athletes from 23 different sports. The age of the athletes ranged from 11 to 18 years of age.

I can tell you that stunting growth is what I’d call a half myth. If super heavy spinal loading (performing squats for anything more than an 8RM for example)growth CAN be stunted. However if you keep the weight lower (12-20RM) it will not stunt growth, and it will in fact help increase bone density (which is important for girls as it may help them reduce the risk of osteoporosis) since bone responds to mechanical loading as long as the maturation process is not completed.

Even the ACSM and NSCA have stated that weight training for youngsters is fine IF excessive loading is avoided.

In the initial stages of training the focus should be on:

  1. Learning proper lifting technique

  2. Enjoying the time you spend in the gym as this will help keep it a long-term habit

  3. Correct postural imbalances that might already be visible at that age: young girls tend to suffer from a varying range of hyperlordosis and children in general often have an “head forward, shoulders slumped” posture thanks to the hours they spend on the computer.

[quote]speedy5323 wrote:
I tried this over on the T-Vixen section previously, but haven’t gotten any responses.

I have a 13 year old female relative that has recently shown interest in weight training and has asked me if I would show her the ropes as far as form, routines, etc. From what I have read in recent years, it seems as though the “weights will stunt your growth” deal has been labeled as myth. Most of the information I have come across seems to lean more towards it being alright for individuals to train once they hit puberty, which this girl has.

I wanted to get some of your thoughts/suggestions on this matter. Thank you.[/quote]

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
Personally I’d get her doing (…) gymnastics
[/quote]

From my experience working with over 1000 young athletes from 23 sports gymnasts have BY FAR the greatest injury rate of any athlete AND are the ones with the greatest chances of having their growth stunted.

The funny thing is that in our sport-studies program we had 23 sports enrolled in the strength-training program BUT the gymnastics coaches did not want their girls to participate for injury prevention reasons… and as I mentionned the gymnasts had BY FAR the greatest injury rate of all the athletes and the greatest incidence of postural imbalances.

Not to mention that 13 is too late to start gymnastics and be any good. In fact, 13 is almost when gymnasts peak. When puberty hits them their career is basically over (except for a few exception).