T Nation

Kids Lifting

CT: My son and daughter both want to lift. Mostly because I do but also because they are both very competitive. Son is 11 and eats and sleeps baseball. Daughter is 7 and is on a competitive cheer team. I am leery of letting them lift that young and have restricted it to body weight exercises and squats with a light kettle bell. Am I on the right track with that?

I’m not CT but i’ve looked at this scenario at university… to be honest i think you’re spot on. callisthenics should be encouraged as long as the children want to do it.

Your son plays baseball? then bodyweight exercises will certainly help! when i was a youngster playing basketball, I wanted to be stronger and faster then anyone i played, so from the age of 11/12 i started doing tons of push ups, sprints, sit ups, lunges etc. at around 14/15 i got a barbell set for my birthday so i was able to do some weighted stuff… i never had an injury, and although i wasn’t the best point guard in my league, i sure as hell was the most athletic!

I think the key is to instil knowledge with your children. make sure you show them good technique, and the importance of safety etc when working out -ease them in gently!!! … what i mean is, don’t get them started on the layer system next week! haha but certainly encourage body weight exercises in sporting children! -just make sure that safety and technique is your priority, and that they don’t overdo it!!!

its not the hours they put in, but what they put into the hours.

there is a lot of research why children shouldnt lift weights, but any research against bodyweight exercises is flawed.

Just thought I’d add that research does NOT suggest weight training for children is dangerous, and that many studies have shown it is both safe and effective - just be sensible. There are plenty of studies available to show this if you have time to search.

Also, remember that body weight can be a large % of maximum for children with press-ups etc. and does not allow progression. It can work, but is very limited. Kettlebells and dumbbells would be good, along with learning technique for barbell lifts if possible.

Elliot Hulse says in many of his videos that he was brought in to strength training by his uncle who got him and his brothers involved in martial arts and gymnastics. Now I’d love to tell you to just let you kids start lifting, but I’d encourage you to not do it and instead get them involved in those kind of high energy body weight training programs that will allow them to develop a sense of what they can do with their bodies, a better mind-body connection if you will.

These basic principles will help them more later on than if you just started weight training now. Plus their young so they can take the volume of doing something like baseball and karate at the same time, or competitive cheer (I know I did, rec team swimming and gymnastics followed by karate later on) …

Good foundations = good athletes.

More play at that age, but smart lifting is OK.
Basic stuff.
Press
Pull
Hip dom
knee dom
ballistic movement, running, KB swing.
loaded carry

A lot of things can be body weight though. Pressing - pushup. pulling - pullups or inverted rows. Squat can and should be taught. Oh how I wish I would have learned a basic squat early. goblet squats are a great teaching tool. Deads are easy enough to teach. I wouldn’t teach max effort though for a long while.
two or one db carries are great too. Overhead db carries.
At 7, man…Mostly play. If she really wants to lift, lifting workout should be practice.

I would suggest finding someone who knows how to work with beginners/kids.

It sounds like your kids have the kind of mindset that can make it very easy to train them (if the correct person is training them)

Wish you and them success,

Lyyb

PS I liked the posts by halcj Following that advice is a good start to learning how to work with beginners/kids.

IIRC, Glenn Pendlay talks about some Belgian, Russian and other Eastern Bloc Oly lifters starting as early as 7 with a training bar, using no weights until their form was impeccable and second nature. Then, after a few years, they’d progress to weights, but slowly. It’d be more for movement pattern training than for weights.

I second what halcj says: there is no real evidence that moderate training is unhealthy or even dangerous. When I was the strength coach in a public school, we’d get 9 and 10 year olds in the weightroom doing real simple stuff: goblet/front squats, push-ups, bent over rows, chin ups, light deads (with a training plate), and power cleans with just the bar. Usually just 3 sets of 10. Again, usually just movement pattern training.

I would argue, though, that PLAYING is extremely important in a child’s intellectual AND physical development. Child development research reveals evidence that active playing outside (and with others) increases certain cognitive skills. Plus, it gets them physically active. As long as they are physically active and away from a screen, they benefit. In that case, it might be good to introduce basic movements and have them do like 1 set of 10, and then go play.

I believe that the absolute best thing you can do for kids is getting them into basic, recreational gymnastics classes, do bodyweight exercises as well as a few basic movement patterns with weight, but only using a light resistance and focus on perfect technique. I would pick the front squat, deadlift and push press. After a few months I would actually introduce the power clean and power snatch… all done with light weights of course.

But if someone has a strong background in gymnastics and basic lifting movements as a kid, he/she is starting 3-4 steps ahead of everybody. Especially considering how motor-moronic most of the kids are nowadays.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
I believe that the absolute best thing you can do for kids is getting them into basic, recreational gymnastics classes, do bodyweight exercises as well as a few basic movement patterns with weight, but only using a light resistance and focus on perfect technique. I would pick the front squat, deadlift and push press. After a few months I would actually introduce the power clean and power snatch… all done with light weights of course.

But if someone has a strong background in gymnastics and basic lifting movements as a kid, he/she is starting 3-4 steps ahead of everybody. Especially considering how motor-moronic most of the kids are nowadays.[/quote]
“motor-moronic” ? PRICELESS. LOL

Thanks for the feedback. I don’t want to get them hurt, but I also don’t want to hold them back too much since they are so enthusiastic about it. They want to do it on their own. I have not pushed them. In fact I have had to limit them some to keep them from over doing it. All of this information is appreciated.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
I believe that the absolute best thing you can do for kids is getting them into basic, recreational gymnastics classes, do bodyweight exercises as well as a few basic movement patterns with weight, but only using a light resistance and focus on perfect technique. I would pick the front squat, deadlift and push press. After a few months I would actually introduce the power clean and power snatch… all done with light weights of course.

But if someone has a strong background in gymnastics and basic lifting movements as a kid, he/she is starting 3-4 steps ahead of everybody. Especially considering how motor-moronic most of the kids are nowadays.[/quote]

Can’t agree more! More motor skill vocabulary is better. The more variety the better.

[quote]OldOgre wrote:
Thanks for the feedback. I don’t want to get them hurt, but I also don’t want to hold them back too much since they are so enthusiastic about it. They want to do it on their own. I have not pushed them. In fact I have had to limit them some to keep them from over doing it. All of this information is appreciated. [/quote]

That’s the best possible way for them to get into it haha. Just keep in mind, variety variety variety. Think of it in terms of learning a vocabulary for language–the wider your vocabulary is, the faster you master the language, the faster you master new words in the language, and new meanings and nuances that others might miss.

In other words…you learn how to learn! Variety variety variety. And of course to whoever said above–if they view it as PLAY and FUN then that’s where it needs to stay no matter what. :slight_smile: Awesome news to balance out the new “obesity is a disease” thread elsewhere that was bringing me down lol

Just to add to what’s already been covered, I would also recommend that kids NOT focus solely on one sport until at least the high school JV level. I also think it’s important to not only learn perfect form on the basic movement patterns, but to try to incorporate as many variations on those patterns as possible once progressively better form is learned.

I’ve coached a lot of youth baseball and I see more and more kids each year whose parents think that their kid can go pro if he just plays baseball often enough, which usually means playing all year at the expense of other sports. All too often, I see kids get injured from simple wear and tear/fatigue due to too much of the same movement patterns. This goes double for pitchers.

I think until a kid is at least 14 or 15 they’re better off developing as many different movement patterns and types of motor recruitment as possible. This builds a much bigger and more athletic base from which to develop a specific sport later on. I know soccer always gets shit on, and rightly so, but I still feel that it’s one of the best sports for all kids to get involved in at a young age, say, 5 or 6. It builds a good foundation running-wise and is a great way to jumpstart a kid’s work capacity and cardiovascular endurance. Basketball is another sport I would include early in a kid’s sporting career and try to keep in their life as long as possible. Soccer and basketball aren’t going to build much upper-body strength at all, but the jumping, running, changing of direction and so on builds really good hip agility, quick feet and of course, running speed. Gymnastics is a good way to add to this foundation while also bringing more upper-body work into the picture.

I think the best thing about baseball is the eye-hand coordination and reaction time that it builds. It’s the fastest game any kid will end up playing for the most part. Even in Little League, the ball is being thrown at you or hit at you faster than any ball in any other sport. The fact that the ball is hard and can knock your teeth out adds an element of danger that I especially like.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Just to add to what’s already been covered, I would also recommend that kids NOT focus solely on one sport until at least the high school JV level. [/quote]
I’m not disagreeing with you on this. But it’s not really the way sports are anymore, at least where I live. It seems as though being a “specialist” is what’s encouraged. And the sports seasons keep getting extended. Both of my kids play sports that run either year-round (gymnastics) or practically year-round (hockey).

[quote]kpsnap wrote:

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Just to add to what’s already been covered, I would also recommend that kids NOT focus solely on one sport until at least the high school JV level. [/quote]
I’m not disagreeing with you on this. But it’s not really the way sports are anymore, at least where I live. It seems as though being a “specialist” is what’s encouraged. And the sports seasons keep getting extended. Both of my kids play sports that run either year-round (gymnastics) or practically year-round (hockey). [/quote]

I know that’s the way it is these days, but that is also the way it should not be. Who encourages these kids to be “specialists”? Most of the time, it’s the coaches or the parents. The coaches think that kids will get better at the sport they’re coaching if they don’t concentrate on anything else. Parents think their kid could become the next superstar if only they played X sport more often, as if the frequency of play and not the inherent athletic ability is the determining factor for going pro or not. The kids who excel are the ones with the most athletic ability, not the ones who have the most experience.

I would exclude gymnastics from the equation, though, simply because it requires such a varied amount of movement patterns and incorporates so many different types and speeds of movement. I think if I had a kid who I wanted to excel in sports, regardless of what sport, I would get him/her into gymnastics at as early an age as possible as a way to build a foundation for everything else.

[quote]kpsnap wrote:

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Just to add to what’s already been covered, I would also recommend that kids NOT focus solely on one sport until at least the high school JV level. [/quote]
I’m not disagreeing with you on this. But it’s not really the way sports are anymore, at least where I live. It seems as though being a “specialist” is what’s encouraged. And the sports seasons keep getting extended. Both of my kids play sports that run either year-round (gymnastics) or practically year-round (hockey). [/quote]

Being a “specialist” is absolutely positively not encouraged by the research data or experience (as far back as Soviet era they recognized this). This is an outgrowth of both pushy parents/parents wanting to vicariously live thru kids sport accomplishments, or sports conditioning program marketing, or both. This is a problem in sports conditioning and playing today if you are talking about kids under high school age–even in high school age as well, but it is more flexible then and there is more need to start digging into a sports details if you want to continue at the next level. I would say in my opinion anyone under a junior in high school should not attempt to “specialize”.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:

[quote]kpsnap wrote:

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Just to add to what’s already been covered, I would also recommend that kids NOT focus solely on one sport until at least the high school JV level. [/quote]
I’m not disagreeing with you on this. But it’s not really the way sports are anymore, at least where I live. It seems as though being a “specialist” is what’s encouraged. And the sports seasons keep getting extended. Both of my kids play sports that run either year-round (gymnastics) or practically year-round (hockey). [/quote]

I know that’s the way it is these days, but that is also the way it should not be. Who encourages these kids to be “specialists”? Most of the time, it’s the coaches or the parents. The coaches think that kids will get better at the sport they’re coaching if they don’t concentrate on anything else. Parents think their kid could become the next superstar if only they played X sport more often, as if the frequency of play and not the inherent athletic ability is the determining factor for going pro or not. The kids who excel are the ones with the most athletic ability, not the ones who have the most experience.

I would exclude gymnastics from the equation, though, simply because it requires such a varied amount of movement patterns and incorporates so many different types and speeds of movement. I think if I had a kid who I wanted to excel in sports, regardless of what sport, I would get him/her into gymnastics at as early an age as possible as a way to build a foundation for everything else.[/quote]

Bingo.

Also it is worth noting that the more DIFFERENT movement abilities you have, the greater athletic potential you create. It is absolutely, positively, 100% NOT the specificity of practice and frequency at a young age. Again as I said, you are learning to learn, athletically speaking. The wider your vocab is the faster you learn subsequent words or languages, NOT the more specific ways you know to make a sentence (i.e. frequently practice a single skill)

It is absolutely contrary to everything we know about development and the available research on both mental development and motor pattern development.

Like I said, I’m not disagreeing with you.

But there are certain sports that if kids don’t have considerable club experience during their formative years, they can’t even make the high school team. So playing isn’t even an option.

My son eats and sleeps baseball. He does not “specialize” in it. He simply loves it like a fat kid loves candy. He also plays basketball but made it clear to me that he was only playing to get into better shape for baseball. He still wanted to hit in the cage at least twice per week during basketball season.

His baseball season runs from February thru beginning of June, longer if I let him play All Stars which we only do every other year. He wants to play travel ball in the fall but I refuse to put him, me and my family thru that ordeal. Make no mistake I am not one of “those dads” and his coach doesn’t push him that way either mostly because that also happens to be me every year. The boy simply fell in love with baseball at age 5 and has shown no intent to think differently.

My girl on the other hand is a specialist. She cheers and does not want to do anything else. She played one year of tee ball at age 5 with the boys not the girls because she wanted to play “real baseball”. She did really well and moved on. Cheer is year around practice. Basically 6 months of tumbling practice and 6 months of combined tumbling and routine practice. The exercises and stretching that those girls do are amazing. The girl is ripped at 7 years old. She may be 3 -4% BF but she is still above average weight wise for her age. No man can do the ab exercises that those girls do. Again, this is what she wants do to. We don’t push her to do it.

All of that said, they still have time to be kids.

Again thanks for all of the advice and info.