T Nation

My boy my boy....

I need some advice.
Just got my son a weight set and bench for his birthday, he is 5’5" 150lbs and 11 yrs old.
I need some help with his routine - sets, reps.
He wants to train and I don’t want to mess him up. I know how to train some one in the mid 40s (me) But young bodies are diffrent.
Can ya help a T-man out ?

My 12 year son just started weight training a few weeks ago. I’ve got him working out 2-3 times per week, emphasizing major compound exercises. I have him start out with 2-3 sets of squats, deadlifts, bench presses and pulldowns (until he’s strong enough to do pull-ups). I then let him pick whatever arm and shoulder exercises he wants for the last few sets. This allows some variety while still concentrating on the basic movements. He then finishes up with calf raises and some ab work. I watch all his workouts to make sure he learns and executes proper technique for each movement (very important). Currently, I’m having him do sets of 12-15 reps. When he gets 15 reps on each set of an exercise, he can increase the weight by 5 or 10 lbs. This way he doesn’t try to move his weights up too quickly and get burnt out or lose interest. I’ve got him in the habit of writing down his workout exercises, weights, sets and reps too.

You might drop an email to Ian King. I believe he touches on this in “Get Buffed.” My two cents? Just teach him the basic moves for now. Squats, full with perfect form. Deadlift, same as before. Standing overhead press. Bench press, ditto. Pullups. Thats about it. Make sure his first several workouts are with you present. Make sure he does not have enough total weitht to do something dumb when you are not around to supervise. Limit his sets to a warmup and 1 to 2 max sets per exercise. Wouldn’t let him workout more than 2 times per week. What you have to look out for is his connective tissue and growth plates. They are still very immature. Always emphasize form over weight.
Have fun.

I agree. Just do the basics with an emphasis on technique. Get him in the habit of stretching NOW while he’s still young and supple.

I bring my 12 yr old son 2 or 3 times a week to the gym. I jsut have him do the basics mostly using machines as gym weights dont go down low enough to allow full range of motion. I let him bench free weights about every 3 weeks to keep his ego going as hes sees he can lift more.

Interesting question. I am sure there are as many opinions on this as there are on any other area, nutrition, schemas, etc. At that age, and any, learning the movements is of high importance. Just getting his central nervous system to learn to recruit will cause immediate gains in strength. bench, standing press, chins, row, deadlift, squat. I would resist temptation to have or let him go to faiure. 2 sets each, perfect form, sets woth low reps. 3x/week. Just go through the motions. I wish I could remember the source, but the suggestion was to set tempo, cease sets when still able to complete rep, but ability to keep tempo dropped. for example, if 3 seconds was the tempo, when it took 4 seconds, quit set. I am real interested to see of anyone has references, my daughter is 9 1/2, wants to start exercising, but has little coordination and concentration

I agree with everyone else so far but i would ad some type of bent over row movement. Too often the youngins get strong benching but do not have the strength to maintain proper shoulder structure. They get too strong pushing in one plane but lack any strength tto pull in that plane, the result can be devastating on the shoulder structure. This come from both personal and professional experience. Definitly emphasive reps over weight and never try low reps, the connective tissue is just to fragile still. he has his whole life to train and why not get off to the best start possible, and oh yeah keep him away from the muscle mags, flex, musclemag etc, he does not need those influences. good luck

I’m no expert, but I haven’t heard any reason why you son, who I assume to be in good health, could not train nice and hard. I one stay away from 1RM’s, just for caution.

The National Strength & Conditioning Association publishes a little booklet called The NSCA Quick Series Guide to Kids Lift. It covers weight training for kids.

It’s good as a foundation for your son.
You should be able to order it from the NSCA website. They also claimed they’d be offering it at Target Stores but I haven’t checked that out.

Just keep him on the basics: bench, squat, deadlift, military, row, etc. Don’t worry about curls and tri pressdowns and all the sissy movements for now. Build him a solid, powerlifting base for three or so years and then, when he is 15 or 16, start the prettier movements, but still emphasizing the power lifts. Just my two cents. I got my first weight set when I was eight and have been passionately in love with the sport since. Good luck with it…it will teach him work ethic and discipline. Also, make sure to teach him about nutrition and rest, as that is probably 80% of successful training.

Well I don’t want to sound ignorant here but I just wanted to enhance my knowledge and also I am looking out for the kids sake. So here’s my question. Shouldn’t weight training be held off until kids are 15 years old? Isn’t 11 or 12 way tooo young to be lifting weights. I mean even 15 is kind of young unless you know you have hit puberty long ago. I would find this bad on his growth plates and from what I heard they lose height, kind of like all those guys in squat competitions who are short as hell. Something about too much pressure on your vertebrae. Look I know there hasn’t been much research done on this subject, but it would only be common sense right? Also supplements, I wold say forget about it, only whole foods. So start bashing me know but I think I have a point here. Adios.

i think bodyweight exercises are ideal when you are young(11-12), pushups, pullups, situps, etc… then i guess at age 15 lifting weights sounds like a good idea. Any comments.

Crepter, why is pullups which is a bodyweight only exersize better than a benchpress? I mean - He can prolly lift himself 1-5 times or so. That’s damn heavy weights for a 11-12 year old.

Doubt the bodyweight stuff is any helpfull in how much weight they should lift. I think I’d kept them more than 8 reps at least! On the other hand - Im almost a kid myself - so this subject is interesting… love to hear more!