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How Young Can a Boy Start Lifting?

I would imagine the timing of puberty is a factor. Can a kid start before puberty, when it just starts or wait even longer?

According to Rippetoe, children can lift weights as young as six years old as long as the coach knows what he is doing.

just have him do sports he should get lots of work in that way, just keep him active in some way. Once he is 13 or so buy him a weight set, or he will just lift with whatever sport he is with anyways with hopefully a proper coach.

This is a very interesting topic.

The Soviets did numerous studies, and had State wide data collection on their athletic youths. They tended to introduce weight training to kids who were 11-12 years old. Any younger than that, and all their training was games, tumbling (rolls, gymnastic stuff), jumping, sports, and calisthenics.

Most recommendations are to limit heavy weight training to people older than 15.

According to Thomas Kurz and studies by Sulmitsev/Krumm…

Youths 11-12 years old can use weights up to 30% of their bodyweight

Youths 13-14 can use weights up to 50% of their bw.

Youths 15-16 can use weights up to 100% of their bodyweight.

Regardless of age, maximal strength exercises and great intensity lifts were not allowed until the development of the long bones had been completed ~= 17 years of age.

The Soviets’ State wide programs and studies also came to the conclusion that children 11 year or under should only use weights that they could do 13-15 reps with. And especially that children should develop their power and strength by running, jumping, throwing, tumbling, and NOT heavy external weights. This was done for a variety of reasons, but the primary one was probably for increased “motor learning”–eg. the more diverse movements you ingrain into a child while very young, the better they master new movements and their chosen sport later in life. In other words it increases their movement “vocabulary” if you will.

Also, it’s worth noting that Kurz states in his book (with a number of different studies by the Soviets and other countries cited that I don’t want to reference now because I’m lazy) that in children the different athletic qualities are all tightly related.

Simply, this means that making a young child agile will make him stronger. Or that making him more coordinated will make him stronger. It’s like Zen in reverse–early on, any kind of training affects all attributes of strength speed and agility, but the more the child ages into adulthood the more independent these qualities become. You train agility, you gain endurance and strength as well. You train endurance, you actually get stronger.

An adult does not get stronger by becoming more agile. If an adult trains endurance he will get weaker, not stronger. He has to train agility to become agile. He has to be specific to the athletic quality he wants to improve, whereas a young child can do anything he wants and improve on everything at the same time.

So short answer is he can train with weights before puberty with no problem, but the best strength training for kids is that he should get involved in as many different physical activities as possible for as long as possible. Get his movement “vocabulary” as diverse as possible. Make him run and jump and tumble and throw. Use primarily bodyweight exercises like push-ups, etc. Use light weight training as a supplement to all these activities, not the mainstay.

Hope that made sense. It’s way late over here.

Also of note, Thomas Kurz talks about a study by Drabik in 1996.

Drabik found that “during certain periods of a person’s life, he or she will be most sensitve to exercises developing particular elements of movement coordination. These are called sensitive ages or critical periods [specific vocab depends on the author–my note]”

Table is as follows:

(quality/male sensitive age/female sensitive age)

Balance-----10 to 11, 9 to 10

Movement adequacy-----8-13 (greatest at 9-12), same for girls

Kinesthetic differentiation------ 6-7 and again at 10-11, same for girls

Reaction to signals------8-10, same

sense of rhythm (I definitely missed this boat growing up :stuck_out_tongue: ) ------- 9-10, 7-9

Spatial orientation-------- 12-14, same

Sychronization of movements------- 6-8, same

Now you can see one of many reasons the Soviets desired well-rounded activities for their very young athletes-in-training.

It should be noted that if someone ‘misses the boat’ on these critical periods, it is not really a disaster. Well, I suppose it was for my sense of rhythm :). As mentioned in my post above, during most of childhood one’s abilities are highly interrelated and so it’s not a terrible concern if he/she starts training later than these ‘critical periods’ even though it is not perfectly optimal.

I would say, stick to 3 times a week of bodyweight til after 21 ~ the growth cycle for guys lasts longer but case in point. I have never known a real gymnast that was actually taller then I…

The body will adapt to the stress placed upon it when young. Therefore a child can learn so much more faster mentally, and physically surpass their elders. But growth ~ that is a limited time and during that time. You feed them well, Protein first and foremost and anything they desire so long as they stay active.

Girls 16-18 and its done ;p And any 18 and under that does 100 pushups a day will be admired for the rest of his days by his peers from that era.

[quote]kinein wrote:
I would say, stick to 3 times a week of bodyweight til after 21 ~ the growth cycle for guys lasts longer but case in point. I have never known a real gymnast that was actually taller then I…
[/quote]

I don’t know if you are suggesting that gymnastics or strength training will stunt your growth because that is just wrong. Gymnasts are generally shorter because their sport generally favors shorter people. Tall people will tend to go into basketball and football, but basketball and football don’t make you taller.

To the OP, you can start teaching the movements to kids as soon as they show an interest. As Aragorn said, it’s better when they are younger to expose kids to a variety of activities and encourage development of skills. Skills learned when young will stick with them for life. The key is to make training fun. They will stick with activities they enjoy.

Here’s is the article by Rippetoe that Doublesidedtape referenced earlier. It’s very important reading: exrx.net/WeightTraining/Weightlifting/YouthMisconceptions.html

Stu

Wow thanks for the info, very informative.

I started at 13… but then I’m only 5’7" so if I fucked myself that would suck.

Practical Programming, page 252.

There was a before/after picture of the girl and her mother standing back to back, but I dont have a scanner handy.

[quote]DoubleSidedTape wrote:

Mark Rippetoe wrote:

Much data shows that weight training does not diminish growth in children. Carla (5’7 1/2") and her 13-year-old daughter Samantha Nichols (top), national junior weightlifting champion since age 9, provide compelling evidence that the stature of genetically similar individuals is not affected adversely by weightlifting in their youth. Sammi (bottom) is shown here at 5’ 5 1/2" and 5’8" in pictures taken about one year apart. Weight training may someday “stunt” her growth, but it needs to hurry up.

Practical Programming, page 252.

There was a before/after picture of the girl and her mother standing back to back, but I dont have a scanner handy.[/quote]

That’s a good point that Rippetoe makes. When I was a kid one of my uncles was supposedly a strength and conditioning coach for the Detroit Redwings (I say supposedly because it later turned out that the guy was a pathological liar) and told my mother that if I started weight training it would stunt my growth (I was probably around 9-10). Ironically I still wound up being only 5’9" and wasting a lot of precious time when I could have been building muscle. I can tell you that high school would have been a lot more fun had I started resistance training at 9 or 10.

The truth is that sporting activities (like running, jumping, tumbling, etc…) place considerably more stress and load on the joint structures than resistance training (perhaps with the exception of elite olympic lifters). I remember Coach Christopher Sommer (one of the nation’s leading youth gymnastics coaches) mentioning that at the bottom of a giant swing the musculature of the back/shoulder girdle could experience forces equal to 8 times that of bodyweight. I’ve seen some strong rock climbers/pull-up artists, but none that even came close to being able to do a pull-up with 8x BW.

I also remember him telling a story about two identical twins. Both did gymnastics while they were very young, then one stayed on and the other decided to take up a different sport (can’t remember atm what, but it wasn’t as strength intensive). Both twins wound up being exactly the same height. So there were no adverse affects to the growth process from doing the tumbling, leaping, plyometric or strength exercises associated with gymnasts.

I say if your child shows interest (regardless of age) nurture it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t also encourage them to engage in sports. But if nothing else, the resistance training will only help them to enjoy the sports they play, not take away from it.

Hope this helps.

[quote]stuward wrote:
kinein wrote:
I would say, stick to 3 times a week of bodyweight til after 21 ~ the growth cycle for guys lasts longer but case in point. I have never known a real gymnast that was actually taller then I…

I don’t know if you are suggesting that gymnastics or strength training will stunt your growth because that is just wrong. Gymnasts are generally shorter because their sport generally favors shorter people. Tall people will tend to go into basketball and football, but basketball and football don’t make you taller.

[/quote]

Kinein, you are very mistaken. Sports scouts and coaches select people for competition based on body types that give advantages in their sport. For gymnasts and olympic lifters, tall height is not one of those. For football it may be, for basketball it definitely is.

That has nothign to do with the training making them short. Furthermore, a direct numerical comparison of the forces against the knees, growth plates, or back when a kid jumps or slides or tackles in sport, or even hops down from a fence can easily show that torque and strain on the knee joint, bone growth plates, and back can easily surpass that of free weight exercises.

But you never hear anyone say “don’t do sports Johnny, you’ll stunt your growth”. Because it isn’t true. Sustained long term exposure to high intensity or near-maximal weights might be able to close the plates, but transient exposure such as gymnastics or sports does not. Neither does light weight training in accordance to the Russians’ guidelines or Rippetoe’s.

Good post sentoguy, I wish I’d seen it before I typed my response to him…

I agree with the consensus about the safety of it and just focusing on being active at a young age.

But I’d try to take a little bit of focus off of the number on age. We can all remember the guy who was pretty much as tall as he was going to get in 10th grade, whereas some men don’t reach their maximum height until after college.

From personal experience and seeing those around me know that if a kid starts training around the time he hits high school -for interest or a sport or whatever- he’s probably going to hit some pretty tough plateaus alternating with periods of freaky growth when those other stages of puberty kick in.

Of course teaching him a little about sound principles and periodization will go a long way. More importantly if he wants to get serious focus on NUTRITION, it’s really tough in a high school cafeteria but that’s the single biggest factor I ever saw hold kids age 13-17 back.

In summary, don’t let them get frustrated by getting stuck and give up training all together because they were missing few pieces of the puzzle. I learned that the hard way and now I’m starting from scratch midway through college.

I know when I was 9-10 I would not have been mature enough to lift, I would goof around and probably use bad form. Seems this is true for most kids, they just like to have fun and training really hard might turn them off lifting. If you have the patience and they are very interested that young then go ahead I guess.

I started late at 18, sure I regret it somewhat but whats the hurry? I turned out tall but I doubt lifting young would have affected that at all. But now that I’m older I can train much smarter and feel its a good age.

I think kids under 13 to 14 should stick with exercises that utilize their bodyweight, such as pushups, pullups, dips, sit-ups, crunches, etc… then ease into supervised lifting with universal machines for a year before moving up to free weights. I started lifting around the 7th grade and really starting hitting it heavy around the 10th grade with no adverse effects on growth… I am 5’10 to 5’11" which is average for my family.

My 13 year old wanted to start lifting so I purchased him a universal machine for Christmas.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

So short answer is he can train with weights before puberty with no problem, but the best strength training for kids is that he should get involved in as many different physical activities as possible for as long as possible. Get his movement “vocabulary” as diverse as possible. Make him run and jump and tumble and throw. Use primarily bodyweight exercises like push-ups, etc. Use light weight training as a supplement to all these activities, not the mainstay.

Hope that made sense. It’s way late over here.[/quote]

I completely agree with the “get your kid involved in a variety of sports” at a young age to make him/her a well rounded athlete and promote physical developement. My 13 year old who has just started dabbling in lifting has been playing baseball since he was 4, football since he was 7, soccer since he was 5 (which he gave up for wreslting), and wrestling since he was 9… and he has significant muscle developement- his bodyfat is probably around 10 to 12%, he has sixpack abs, horseshoe tris, a little ball for biceps, and wide rounded shoulders!

And this is from nothing more than year-round sports, which he loves, and the only break he gets is two to three weeks between the end of baseball and the start of football season which he likes to use to brush up on his golf game. And the strength and agility developed for each sport only compliments the next.

The only thing you should do is keep their diet up (calories) to match their activity level… especially when two sports overlap, like right now he practices JV baseball two hours a day after school and then goes to wrestling practice for an hour and a half at night; but before bed every night he drinks an ice cream milkshake with a couple of tablespoons of protein powder to keep his energy level up and repair muscles in addition to his normal diet, which is typcial of kids pizza, hamburgers, chicken strips, french fries, etc.!

it can stunt bone growth,
put him in a sport,
lifting will come around 15 - 16,
i started at 14, and i was a big kid,
i wont do it again tho, cause it fucked with my bones

heres me when i was 10 and getting my 1st degree black belt

I started with karate and judo at age 4 and even though i am just now getting back into working out after gaining a huge amount of weight the one thing that never got fat is my lower body I still have very strong legs and huge calves I have a pic someplace of me punching another kid in the mouth in a match but cant find it

good times I tell ya good times
I am only 5’8’’ or so but because of the conditioning I had at a young age it was really hard actually for me to get out of shape
me being in karate had a great impact on me physicaly and mentally

I would not say make a kid lift weights cause a kid is after all a child and that will seem like work for them
all sports though I think are great find something they like and let them have fun with it

I started when I was 13 and I am 6’2 now. was 5’4 when I started.