T Nation

Strength Training for Kids

T-Nation,

I have an 8 yr old stepson (Dylan) who wants to be just like me, which is great.
He started AAU wrestling this year (loves it) and is doing well, but obviously, a little strength would help immensely.
He has been asking about lifting weights, and I have talked about form and the like, but ALWAYS kept it EXTREMELY light whenever I let him pick up the weights. I have limited him to mostly bodyweight squats and pushups thus far.
I have always heard conflicting information about strength training and growth development in children. I feel that it couldn’t hurt, but have read and heard several studies suggesting that it could stunt his growth, impair joint development, etc.
Do any of you have advice for me as to “breaking him in” with strength training safely and without developmental drawbacks.

Thanks!!!

My 7 year old daughter drags the sled with 70-90lbs, does GHRs, crunches, bench press, DLs, and does some box squats.

Never to the point where she is straining hard. Because of that I am not worried about stunting her growth.

Dr. Squat (Fred Hatfield) once talked about this, dispelling the myths about growth impairment etc. Common sense and precautions would be the way to go and don’t have your stepson going to low on the reps /too high on the weight. There’s no need to specialize for another couple of years :slight_smile:

Bodyweight excercises are great and you should give him access to a chinning bar as well.

A little anecdote: When I was around 10 I was given two light dumbbells and I used to do dumbell flyes (without knowing what it was) for 5-10 minutes every couple of days. Probably for around 6-10 months. Skip forward 7-8 years and I start going to the gym, lifting approximatly the same weight as my 3 buddies. Except I can go almost twice as heavy as them on the… pec dec. Pretty damn useless, however. Oh well.

PS: congratiulations on motivating your stepson, by example, to start a healthy lifestyle. I’m trying to do the same with my kid brother, without pushing him. He’s 12.

Ericka, your 7 year old daughter does GHR’s ? That’s impressive

give him little goals that are hard but not impossible for him. keep these goals centered around bodyweight exercises. tell him for example, that if he does 5 or 10 pullups ( i dont know how many he can do to begin with) then he can get to do some lifting. that way he will be strong enough in his connective tissues and he will have more stable joints as opposed to just jumping in to weight training.

… it seems that at age 8, it would be wise to keep loads VERY low, as you have done.

finally, and most importantly, make sure the kid likes it. dont push him to do it, have him come to you. dont make his life a living hell where everything revolves around training.
Everyone knows about that asshole dad who made his kid cut weight for wrestling when he was real young, and kept him from enjoying himself. that kid ends up quitting before he finishes highschool or has psychological problems. im no doctor, but this is my observation from their behavior.
take you stepson to a rock climbing wall or a playground for a workout.
to sum it up:
-teach good habits
-focus on form and bodyweight exercises
-keep loads low
-make sure he is enjoying what he is doing

GPP, GPP,GPP, and some more GPP. At his age he does not have the mental capacity or physical capacity to properly express strength. By training GPP at this age you can raise his level of adaptation very high so that when he is older he is highly prepared for a good strength program. Read Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sport by Verkoshansky for more on this.

Go to elitefts.com and do a search for this subject, 62 has several posts that discuss this topic. Also read anything you can find by the Russians that describe how they trained their children starting at the ages of 6-9 with GPP methods.

You can play games with him to teach him certain abilities and he won’t even know he is training. He will just think he is playing with his Dad.

Games like:
Tag for agile movements and change of direction
Red Light Green Light for acceleration and deceleration
Red Rover for top speed
Leap frog for jumping
Make up some others. Just use your imagination.

And lastly do not confine him to one sport right now. This is the worst thing you can do for him. Sign him up for a different sport each season involving as many abilities as posible as long as he has fun doing them. Basketball, football, baseball, soccer and wrestling are great for kids. And I’ll say it again GPP, GPP, GPP. Just let him have fun.

[quote]UB07 wrote:

finally, and most importantly, make sure the kid likes it. dont push him to do it, have him come to you. dont make his life a living hell where everything revolves around training.
Everyone knows about that asshole dad who made his kid cut weight for wrestling when he was real young, and kept him from enjoying himself. that kid ends up quitting before he finishes highschool or has psychological problems. im no doctor, but this is my observation from their behavior.
take you stepson to a rock climbing wall or a playground for a workout.
to sum it up:
-teach good habits
-focus on form and bodyweight exercises
-keep loads low
-make sure he is enjoying what he is doing[/quote]

This hasn’t been much of a problem since he has been the one pushing. If anything, I have been more of a limiting factor. I try VERY hard to make sure I don’t PUSH him, but I do shoot him straight when he comes to me and asks questions. He has always been disappointed that he can’t go lift with me due to insurance regulations at my gym (14 yrs or older). In fact, with ALL of the sports he plays (baseball, football, wrestling, and basketball), NONE have ever been mentioned to him, rather he has asked his mother and me if he could play. (while I’m beaming on the inside)

Thanks for the feedback, guys! Keep it coming.

Hfrogs00,

Heck, I must have tricked myself, cause I always thought I was just playing with him when we did that kind of stuff!!!

[quote]Dristige David wrote:
Ericka, your 7 year old daughter does GHR’s ? That’s impressive[/quote]

My 7 year old daughter is not your average 7 year old. She is 4’10" and 95lbs…and growing. She begs me to drag the sled and loves training. Never anything heavy. Lots of GPP and onky 3-5 reps on the GHRs.