T Nation

On Beginning Training < 45lbs.


I've been meaning to ask this for awhile but I always manage to forget about it and not ask.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to go about training the compound lifts with less than an olympic bar...especially in the case of the deadlift, I've got access to bumper plates which make the bar the right height but that's a 95 lbs. load and it might be too heavy for someone to start with.

I'm mainly wondering for my 10 year old son who has expressed an interest in training. He's almost 100 lbs. and while most of us are capable of handling a 45 lbs. barbell to get the form down, that might be a little much for him. I know I could use a broomstick to teach the form but bridging that gap between broomstick and barbell might be difficult.

I'm open to any suggestions people may have. I don't really want to debate what age training should occur at. I don't plan on pushing him too hard / too heavy especially since he's not going to be very coordinated for at least 6-8 weeks of solid training.


At my university's gym they have a couple bars that are just like an olympic bar but smaller, they weigh around 25 lbs. The people at my gym use them for curls and other arm stuff, but im sure they would work for what your trying to do. They still have knurling and you can still load normal plates on them.


Some companies make full-size 5lb bumper plates. Search around, shouldn't be too hard to find.


In this same vein, I'm fairly certain I've seen practice barbells before. Maybe someone can correct me on this. I've heard of such things being used for training very young olympic lifters. Regular sized, but only like 20lbs. Don't quote me on this though.


A lot of the barbell manufacturer's will make aluminum barbells or smaller ones for kid's use. You can't load them up, but that will be what you are looking for. Check these out.




Just about every gym I've ever seen has bars like that. Some are 25 lbs, some 35.

A few gyms have a set of bars with weight permanently fixed, I think the lightest is 20 lbs.


Yeah, there are plenty of 5-15kilo training bars out there. They are not really cheap though, nor are 10lb training plates. But that route would be your best bet. One from MuscleDriver is 99bucks. Check it out:

Then you could stack weights or buy training plates. Rogue is also a great resource. Good luck.


I would think there would be considerable carryover if you started with kettlebell deadlifts, then moved on to an empty bar. The handle would be at the right height, and it would be fairly safe, although I would imagine a 10yo would have difficulty in getting his hands around the thick handle.


I'd almost think you could just do bodyweight stuff or like go outside and pick up rocks and stuff, to build up strength to do a regular bar. Rocks come in all sizes.


For the deadlift teach him the kettlebell or dumbell swing, the movement pattern is the same.


x2 on this and any other idea that involves other strength movements until he can handle an empty barbell. If your at any commercial gym they usually have fixed weight 20/30/40 bars but if you don't have access to that its not really worth it to make a fake one.




Thanks for the help gentlemen. I'm going to check into some equipment but I don't want it to get cost prohibitive...although I do have three boys and perhaps if I purchase the stuff now it will pay off in the future? The gym I train at is pure shit, they don't have much of what I need but honestly it's the best show in the area.

As for the recommendation of kettlebell deadlifts / swings...I do have access to light kettlebells but do you really think that's close enough to translate to a barbell?

I do live near a quarry so I have plenty of access to rocks but I'm not a big fan of that idea just because it's not controlled enough. I think it'd be really easy to get fucked up trying to lift rocks etc...then I'll never hear the end of it from momma-bear.

The 5 lbs. bumpers might be the hot ticket. Though 45 + 10 = 55 and we're already talking 50% bodyweight for this kid...and I'm not trying to be too conservative here, I mean I'm 230ish and I could probably deadlift 115 all day long, but is 50% bodyweight too much for a kid?


Joe Ladnier used to train several highschool lifters. He cut out two pieces of plywood using 45lb. plates as a template, and cut holes to load them on a regular bar. I don't remember exactly how much they weighed, but it wasn't much. These got the bar the same height off the floor as regular plates, and let the lighter lifters work their deadlifts with a light load.


Put the barbell on top of some plates so its the correct height and then just have him pull of that. That way he can lift the 45lb bar from the correct height, btu with no extra loading.


I inherited a set of wooden plates from a friend. They're great and weigh about 2.5lbs each. My eleven year old daughter periodically expresses an interest in deadlifting and she could do the bar plus wooden plates. She weighs about 65lbs and is pretty weak so it should be easy for your boys since they are bigger.


That is so simple, it just has to be pure genius!


When I was a kid we started in grade school with milk jugs full of sand, duct taped to the ends of a broomstick.


I would combine the light weight barbells with the 5lb bumper plates. Get the kids used to pulling from the right height. I also like the suggestion of using plywood (or you could use anything stackable, really) to raise the bar to the correct height.


just something to think of, but do kids that are half your height need to pull from the same height as you? or should they be pulling from half as hi?