T Nation

Programming for My Pre-Teen Athlete Daughter


#1

Alright, don’t think I’m crazy, but I’m interested in beginning some strength training for my daughter and I like the structure of 5/3/1. I know we should start with body weight exercises, never go to failure, and include a lot of mobility training.

She’s a big twelve year old, 5’4", 140 pounds, a little heavy but very solid with good coordination. She plays soccer primarily, but also volleyball and lacrosse.

I’m not looking for someone to do the work for me, but would appreciate any guidance with respect to where to start. I have Starting Strength, 5/3/1 and Beyond 5/3/1 - haven’t read them all yet.

Thanks!


#2

My son started training at 12 years old. Keep it simple, make it fun, and don’t be in a hurry to throw the bar on their backs. The simple stuff will go a long way at that age. Here is a general outline of what we did with him…

Monday
Jump Rope x 200
Agile 8 Mobility
Box Jumps - 3 sets x 3-5 reps
Goblet Squats - 3 sets x 12-20 reps
(Add small weight when 20 “good” reps are achieved)
Back Raises – 3 x 12-20 reps
(Add small weight when 20 “good” reps are achieved)
Push-ups – 3 x Max reps
Fat Man Pull-ups – 3 x Max reps
Sit-ups – 3 x Max reps

Wednesday
Jump Rope x 200
Agile 8 Mobility
Throws – 3 sets x 3-5 reps
Lunges – 3 sets x 20 reps each side
Back Raises – 3 x 12-20 reps
Push-ups – 3 x Max reps
Fat Mans – 3 x Max reps
Sit-ups – 3 x Max reps

Friday
Jump Rope x 200
Agile 8 Mobility
Hill Jumps – 3 x 3-5 reps
Heavy Prowler – Make it tough
(This was his favorite day of the week)
Back Raises – 3 x 12-20 reps
Push-ups – 3 x Max reps
Fat Mans – 3 x Max reps
Sit-ups – 3 x Max reps

He was doing a lot of running in PE class, basketball and football practices.


#3

Just to add a bit more to this…
As he progressed with his push-ups and goblet squats we made goals for him. If he was to get 30 “good” push-ups, we would introduce Bench Press technique work with the 15 lb training bar. Also, if he could give me 15 “good” reps with 50 lbs on the Goblet Squat, then we would introduce Box Squats with the 15 lb training bar. He had to EARN IT. This took many months to get to those goals but his base strength was increased and his squat form was looking good. We then split up his training like so…

Monday
Jump Rope x 200
Agile 8 Mobility
Box Jumps - 3 sets x 3-5 reps
Box Squat technique work
Goblet Squats - 3 sets x 12-20 reps
(Add small weight when 20 “good” reps are achieved)
Back Raises – 3 x 12-20 reps
(Add small weight when 20 “good” reps are achieved)
Push-ups – 3 x Max reps
Fat Man Pull-ups – 3 x Max reps
Sit-ups – 3 x Max reps

Thursday
Jump Rope x 200
Agile 8 Mobility
Throws – 3 sets x 3-5 reps
Heavy Prowler – Make it tough
Back Raises – 3 x 12-20 reps
Bench Press technique work
Push-ups – 3 x Max reps
Fat Mans – 3 x Max reps
Sit-ups – 3 x Max reps

We (very) slowly added weight to the squats and bench press until I thought he was strong enough to begin a typical 5/3/1 workout schedule. We were very patient and the whole process took over a year. I know Wendler would probably do things differently as I don’t have as much experience as him, but in hind sight our plan worked very well. After all it was just working hard on the basics. He entered his Freshman year of football as the strongest squatter on the team and was the starting strong tackle. Best of all, at almost 16 years old he still LOVES to workout with his Dad. That’s a WIN!

Use age appropriate exercises
Make it fun and challenging
Set small and large goals
Reward achievement
Be patient


#4

Great ideas, I appreciate it!


#5

Not really answering your questions, but this thread is timely for me. My twelve-year-old is working on pushups and chins right now.

She’s still tiny (5’3" 98 lbs, all knees and elbows) so the BW moves are progressing really well. She likes to try to out plank me.

The inverted rows (fat man pullups) are a fantastic idea for getting her to activate, and start building her back and arms. I do them all the time myself, and I don’t know why I hadn’t started her on them. Thanks for the reminder, More_Squat.

We don’t have a BB setup at home, and my gym only allows kids under 18 on the weekends, and not in the free weights. In that situation, goblet squats with a KB or DB are good. Also, she can farmer carry some DBs just to work on grip strength and conditioning.

I’ve been doing some complexes with just the bar, and I think those might be good for kids, as long as they aren’t hurrying it up like it’s a race. Maybe with something lighter like those weighted sticks that are 15 to 20 pounds or so, adjust for your kids’ strength levels. I haven’t tried this with her, but something like 8 of each of these, then rest a few minutes and repeat. RDL, Bentover BB Row, Power Clean, Push Press, Back Squat.

For my daughter, mixing it up with running drills, playing catch, or badminton helps hold her interest. I think as much as it can feel like play for them, the better. On Saturdays, she’ll use some of the cable machines at the gym.


#6

Looking back to my middle school “training,” I wish I had known about using broad jumps and Box jumps in training. We actually used the standing broad jump as a “test,” in sports, but I never thought to train it.

Inverted rows are great.

Also, remember you don’t need sophisticated complexes to put exercises together. Pick 2-3 moves(push up/ lunge/ inverted row) and a number of reps (50?) then just work through the exercises, doing good reps, moving on to the next exercise, and doing as many “sets” as it takes to get through all the reps. In my opinion, This is easier than finding the perfect mix of exercises and weights to do a barbell complex. But it’s still fun.


#7

That’s probably true about doing something like a short circuit instead of a light version of BB complexes, at least at first. I was just thinking about keeping things moving, changing activities frequently so they don’t get bored.

It’s kind of like taking your kid for a hike and they are “super tired” after 15 minutes, or take them with a friend or two, and some snacks, and they will mountain goat it up all morning. My kids often mistake boredom for fatigue.

I know several people here have put up their kid’s training in their logs. Bulldog, and I can’t remember who else in the Over 35 Forum who was training a teenage daughter.

Christ Colucci has written some nice articles about training for kids here at TN. I believe I’ve seen videos of Jim doing BB training with his young son, so maybe he’ll chime in here about BB training. No time to look for the links at the moment.

Also, I went to a PLing meet last spring and there was a whole club of kids from the San Diego area there. Several of the girls were 13. I thought it was a really positive, family-oriented thing. Their coaches seemed to be very careful with them about form and lifting weights they could control.