T Nation

Do You Encourage a Young Lifter?

I’m doing some Good Mornings today and next to me I notice this kid come in and start lifting. When I say kid, I mean kid. He was about 5" tall, looked to be around maybe 12 years old, and he was doing bench press and squats. Although he was using the Smith Machine, he was using more intensity than almost anyone else I usually see in that gym. He was adding weight and squeezing out reps. I was damned impressed.

When I finished, I couldn’t find him. I felt really bad because I wanted to say something encouraging to him like “Nice lifts, keep up the good work.”

So my question is, do you guys generally give out encouragement, like I wanted to do? Sometimes I get a little bit sentimental (for lack of a better word) when I see someone that young come in with no attitude, work hard, and put most of the “regulars” to shame.


On a side note, something funny happened today in the gym. I was doing barbell step-ups to a bench and at the bench right next to me, this female trainer was working with a female client doing something which vaguely resembled dumbbell military presses. Anyways, they were chatting and blabbing while she used 2.5 pound dumbbells, and finally the trainer asked her if she’d like to use the 5 pound dumbbells now. The trainer said something like “it’s good to use lighter weights because it helps you get tighter skin” or something like that.

Meanwhile, I am cranking out another set, and I feel like a bull in a china shop - I’m panting, grimacing, etc. I hear the client asking about what I was doing, and so the trainer explains and starts her doing bodyweight step-ups. The trainer says it’s better to do it without weights. Something about toning. It was all I could do to keep quiet, me and that woman were both doing step-ups on benches facing each other. It was some funny shit.

… which made me feel even more bad for not saying anything to that kid later… never know when some encouragement might go a long way.

Hell. Yes.

Definitely give him some words of encouragement. That is awesome.

[quote]wakiki wrote:
I’m doing some Good Mornings today and next to me I notice this kid come in and start lifting. When I say kid, I mean kid. He was about 5" tall, looked to be around maybe 12 years old, and he was doing bench press and squats. Although he was using the Smith Machine, he was using more intensity than almost anyone else I usually see in that gym. He was adding weight and squeezing out reps. I was damned impressed.

When I finished, I couldn’t find him. I felt really bad because I wanted to say something encouraging to him like “Nice lifts, keep up the good work.”

So my question is, do you guys generally give out encouragement, like I wanted to do? Sometimes I get a little bit sentimental (for lack of a better word) when I see someone that young come in with no attitude, work hard, and put most of the “regulars” to shame.


On a side note, something funny happened today in the gym. I was doing barbell step-ups to a bench and at the bench right next to me, this female trainer was working with a female client doing something which vaguely resembled dumbbell military presses. Anyways, they were chatting and blabbing while she used 2.5 pound dumbbells, and finally the trainer asked her if she’d like to use the 5 pound dumbbells now. The trainer said something like “it’s good to use lighter weights because it helps you get tighter skin” or something like that.

Meanwhile, I am cranking out another set, and I feel like a bull in a china shop - I’m panting, grimacing, etc. I hear the client asking about what I was doing, and so the trainer explains and starts her doing bodyweight step-ups. The trainer says it’s better to do it without weights. Something about toning. It was all I could do to keep quiet, me and that woman were both doing step-ups on benches facing each other. It was some funny shit.

… which made me feel even more bad for not saying anything to that kid later… never know when some encouragement might go a long way.[/quote]

I give out encouragement if they seem open to it or ask me directly. I had one kid come up to me and ask flat out, “how do I look like that?”. I had him work in with me the rest of my workout as we finished training chest and triceps. I haven’t seen him again but I would do similar for anyone who actually came up to me. I don’t go around giving advice though. Most people, regardless of how clueless, are not open to it.

[quote]wakiki wrote:
Meanwhile, I am cranking out another set, and I feel like a bull in a china shop - I’m panting, grimacing, etc. I hear the client asking about what I was doing, and so the trainer explains and starts her doing bodyweight step-ups. The trainer says it’s better to do it without weights. Something about toning. It was all I could do to keep quiet, me and that woman were both doing step-ups on benches facing each other. It was some funny shit.

… which made me feel even more bad for not saying anything to that kid later… never know when some encouragement might go a long way.[/quote]

I usually dole out encouragement when I work in with someone or when they work in with me, when I spot someone, when I see a friend lifting and I’m walking by, or when I’m working out with someone. I have encouraged people who were working out near me if I saw them struggling a bit; a little “c’mon, you got this” never hurts anyone.

Rarely do I encourage someone other than that. My experiences have been positive for the most part, but I pick and choose them wisely.

If your instincts say Go for it I’d say go for it. Maybe for 9 out of 10 kids it won’t be a big deal, but it might mean a helluva lot to that 10th kid.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

I give out encouragement if they seem open to it or ask me directly. I had one kid come up to me and ask flat out, “how do I look like that?”. I had him work in with me the rest of my workout as we finished training chest and triceps. I haven’t seen him again but I would do similar for anyone who actually came up to me. I don’t go around giving advice though. Most people, regardless of how clueless, are not open to it.[/quote]

Hahaha I knew it! I was talking to my gf who works at the same gym I used to about attitudes and how some of the biggest guys are usually the nicest ones there as far as giving advice, letting people work in, and overall being positive.

I wonder if it’s because they’ve already accomplished something physically and so they don’t have to be such douchebags, or if it’s just random luck. Along those same lines, smaller guys who are just starting out also seem to be positive and willing to learn or just be nice in general.

The absolute worst (and this is purely anecdotal) seems to be intermediate guys who have accomplished some gains but are not advanced. And that attitude seems multiplied tenfold when they workout with other middle-road lifters in groups. They won’t let others work in, stand around monopolizing areas like a gang, and for some reason take to pointing out what everyone else is doing wrong or what a trainer might be doing that’s not “textbook”. It’s like a little knowledge has made them gym bullies for some reason.

A big built guy doesn’t even seem to notice that 60 year old John Doe is wearing his shorts unfashionably high and therefore needs to be the target of catty remarks by 3 tank top wearing metros gathered around the water cooler.

Anyway, I told her that there’s this guy on T-Nation that has a reputation for being mean-spirited but I would bet money that in a face-to-face meeting he’d be one of the first people to give advice and guidance if he had the free time.

i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.[/quote]

It’s important so that they learn the form, but more important in my opinion is to begin developing the habit - and find that they love doing it, and stick with it long-term.

There was nobody teaching this kid, but he seemed to have done his “homework” - he was using pretty good form and seemed confident.

And the fact that the kid lacks T to build muscle would not affect the other great things we get out of lifting - namely, the discipline, stress management, self esteem, discovery, fun, etc etc.

To quote Dave Draper, "The iron heals, mends, fortifies, toughens, vitalizes, enables, engages, entertains, fulfills, instructs, humbles and makes a good door stop… "

[quote]wakiki wrote:
It was all I could do to keep quiet, me and that woman were both doing step-ups on benches facing each other. It was some funny shit.
[/quote]

lol.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.[/quote]

I’m teaching my 12 year old son how to lift in our garage…I sometimes look at his arms and think about how scrawny they are and wonder if it’s worthwhile for him to lift…but…I reckon he’ll be 13 in a month and then 14 in a year and whatever he does now can only set the groundwork…I started working with him because he came to me and asked me to teach him…so…i wouldn’t want to push a pre-teen into lifting, but if one is interested and you can help then it’s probably a cool thing to do.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.[/quote]

I think it is a neural something thing. Olympic lifters start preferably before puberty.

[quote]medevac wrote:

Anyway, I told her that there’s this guy on T-Nation that has a reputation for being mean-spirited but I would bet money that in a face-to-face meeting he’d be one of the first people to give advice and guidance if he had the free time. [/quote]

Prof X? Mean spirited? Just the other day he sent me a PM asking to cuddle. I think you’ve got him all wrong.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.[/quote]

I pretty much agree with you. The only benefit to lifting at a young age is habit, form, and potentially a “solid” muscular base. Obviously, the point of working out is to get stronger, and if the person can’t get stronger, then there’s no point. Personally, I figure 13 (middle school-ish) is a good age to start.

What Sen Say is doing is pretty much good based on my opinion. It’s not like his son is 10 or anything. 12 is a decent age to start, especially if he asked.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.[/quote]

If I remember, you said the same thing to Ahzaz, whose 14. And lifting.

HELL YEAH you should encourage the little guy. Lifting does everything that martial-arts touts itself as, except it gets you girls and self-respect too.

The coolest thing about training THAT young is that they have almost unlimited flexibility, so there’s no problem going A2G. This is the perfect time to teach the olympic lifts, if you know them.

I just keep seeing this image of the little tyke doing squats. It almost brings a tear to my eye… ah to be young again. This made my day.

14 you usually start producing testosterone. besides, even if he couldnt, no offense to the kid but he has a little chub and you dont need any special hormonal help to lose fat.

[quote]wakiki wrote:

It’s important so that they learn the form, but more important in my opinion is to begin developing the habit - and find that they love doing it, and stick with it long-term.

And the fact that the kid lacks T to build muscle would not affect the other great things we get out of lifting - namely, the discipline, stress management, self esteem, discovery, fun, etc etc.

To quote Dave Draper, "The iron heals, mends, fortifies, toughens, vitalizes, enables, engages, entertains, fulfills, instructs, humbles and makes a good door stop… "[/quote]

most people only get enjoyment out of working out because they see results. thats also where the self esteem comes from, regardless if its from aesthetics of building muscle or from confidence in lifting really heavy weight you need testosterone to do either of those.

like i said, unless youre being taught proper form or will be growing some hair on your nuts soon, dont bother lifting. just watch cartoons and eat worms.

but in all honesty, if youre old enough to produce test, go ahead and lift, maybe you wont turn out to be some punk ass kid i see all over the place…let me stop here before i get into a heated rant about 10 year olds who talk way too much shit on basketball courts and everyone thinks that i hate women and children.

[quote]sen say wrote:
LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i dont see the point in someone lifting whos so young they cant produce testosterone. you could say itd be good to learn the right form etc early on because its easier…but if that were the case someone would be there with them to teach them. so nah, unless youve hit puberty dont even go to the gym.

I’m teaching my 12 year old son how to lift in our garage…I sometimes look at his arms and think about how scrawny they are and wonder if it’s worthwhile for him to lift…but…I reckon he’ll be 13 in a month and then 14 in a year and whatever he does now can only set the groundwork…I started working with him because he came to me and asked me to teach him…so…i wouldn’t want to push a pre-teen into lifting, but if one is interested and you can help then it’s probably a cool thing to do.[/quote]

I got a golds membership when I was 12. I’m still lifting now 19 years later.

whats your point? you didnt make any muscular gains until you hit puberty…not sure when that was…but thats all im saying. i dont care if you start lifting when youre 8 or 9, but understand youre pretty much doing it in vain.

What’s this crap about kids not producing T until they hit puberty? You think their balls are just sitting there waiting to turn 14 so they can finally do some work? It’s just not as much, they can gain plenty of strength, as evident by my younger brother who I trained for a while, and he saw substantial muscular/strength gains in only a few months at the age of 12.

I encourage young kids to do sports, their much more fun and almost every one of them has lifting in high school. Its also much more interactive and not so much of a solitary thing. You don’t have to start super young freshman in high school is young enough to make outstanding gains by the time your out of high school.

Heh…

Before I started seriously lifting weights, I was a runner. During a summer living in Florida, I bought a gym membership as running outside during the humid Florida days was deadly.

I went to the gym, spent an hour running on the treadmill, and left. I was 6ft, 150 lbs by the way…

After a couple sessions of intense cardio, one of the guys that worked at the gym came over to my treadmill and unplugged it while saying, “you’re too skinny to do all this running, go hit the weights.”

This forced me into the free weight section where I learned that there’s no reason to be intimidated by the big guys. When a big guy is friendly to a newbie, it really does make a positive impact. I think most people will appreciate being complimented on their intensity and effort and may subsequently be more willing to take sound advice from you.