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Training 10 Year Old Brother?


my brother is in karate and asked me if i could help him get stronger. I'm not sure where to start. Would it even be ok to train someone that young, if so what excercises?


I think anything with body weight would be fine. Pushups and squats without weights would probably be a good start.


thanks, but would training him even with light weights help, or would it not be good for him at this age?


body weight exercises to start. Lots of lunges, jumpsquats, pushups, pullups, pistols, dips.


What I've read indicates that it is okay to train someone that age but not heavy strength training. Since their body is still developing, handling heavy weight is not recommended.

Here's an article with some good points, but I think they got the definition backward of 'strength training':


Here's another one:



You guys are all right on the money. My youngest brother has actually been asking me for a couple years to get him going and I told him to wait until he was 12. I felt seventh grade was a time where a kid his age could begin to grasp an awareness (girls and sports) as well as an appreciation for his own body.

Absolutely no question, get them started with body weight training. For a few reasons, 1)strength, how can you put a kid under a bar on the bench press when he can't lift himself a few inches off the ground for a pushup for example.

2) Proprioception, his body has to learn to handle itself during movement and space before he can begin handling weight as well. 3) Form, This is the time to give his nueromuscular systems a blue print for what he's about to do the rest of his life. Muscle memory is the name of the game and teaching him the fine detailed points of every motion will cause his body not only to learn and remember the movements but also begin to prepare itself (hypertrophy, bone density) for more serious weight training a few years down the road.

My recommendation: Total body workout 3 x a week. No need to do splits at this point. Give him a very simple regiment that can be followed within a half hour. It'll be easy to remember and it won't bore him. 10 year olds have the attention span of fruit flies. (not sure what a fruit fly's attention span is. but they live for like a day so it can't be long) anyway.

pick core exercises that hit each body part, give him a good rep range (10-12) for 3 sets and call it a day. And after a month mark his progress. His body control, his easy with each set. And make a judgement call on how to advance from there.


thanks guys, greg thanks i think i can figure out a good program from your help


No problem Cobhc. happy to help man.


try rippetoes with a little bit higher reps. It has everything a beginer should need except maybe chins.


This will be long, but I felt the need. The most important thing of all is to make it fun--games of any sort, anything like that. Just make it fun for him, so he WANTS to keep training. According to Kurz in "Science of Sports Training" the USSR had a specific system implemented to address the needs of athletes by age (both absolute and training age). Children in the first phase (2-3 years, or until 12 years old) were trained almost exclusively with "fun and games"--his words, not mine. The most important things they learned were tumbling (somersaults, rolls, break falls, etc) and running and jumping and throwing and agility games. The USSR coaches only used 5-10% of the total training time with sport specific drills, and under no circumstances whatever (not even bicycling sports) did the coaches put the children under a "heavy" training load. Total training hours in a whole year were only a maximum of 250. Variety of activity and motor patterns was insisted upon at ALL costs, even "sport specific" training.

According to Kurz and the Soviets' extensive studies, as well as several motor learning theories, there is very little to NO correlation between specificity of training and athletic ability. What he means by this is that the strongest kid was also generally the most agile, the speediest, and the most coordinated. ---> Contrast this situation with the one that we are familiar to in our adult world--the person trained to be strong is strong but not necessarily agile. In other words, there is a almost universal carryover from training of any sort in a child to his athletic ability. This is kind of what happens with beginner weightlifters--they make good progress on any kind of exercise program. It is only later that they have to specialize in strength or hypertrophy or fat loss to see results. Initially everything happens at once--just like in children.

So, in essence, make him run, jump, dodge, duck, roll, tumble, throw--get as many different movement patterns and coordination patterns and muscles involved as possible WITHOUT regard to any sort of specific strength program. Variety and fun are the absolute kings between the ages of 10-12. Kids learn different movements amazingly fast at this age, so expand his repetoire as much as possible. Besides, you can use these times as GPP for your own training :).

That doesn't mean don't lift, that just means don't lift heavy at all, and don't do the same exercises ever in subsequent weeks. You should focus on playing games with him. In addition to games and tumbling and running and all that, my suggestion would be to add in some sort of mini strongman thing going--good GPP for you both, it gives him a sense of working his muscles, and it gives him more variable movements. Toss something, drag something, sprint, toss something backwards over your head, whatever. But never do the same things two times in a row, or two weeks in a row. Maybe just 1 "strongman" day a week and 1 "weightlifting" day a week, with the other 2 days being games and sprints and agility and tumbling--you should do this with him, as it would give him someone to "beat" and anyway he'll have more fun if you involve yourself. Weights--stick with unilateral movements and/or dumbells to give his supporting muscles the most work. Exceptions I think would be light squatting if you can give him the right form early on.

Lastly, I recommend getting Kurz's "science of sports training" book and reading it--you'll learn more than you thought possible, even if some items are outdated by modern research. Hope this helps.


Actually I think this is the only situation in which I agree with their defnitiion of strength training. As I mentioned in my other post, the Soviets and other east european countries trained their young athletes with fun and games almost exclusively, with perhaps light weightlifting work. Usually I'd agree with you, but with the young kids, this actually makes sense according to the literature I've read. Young kids of this age should never be in "important" competitions, only fun ones, according to Kurz et al.


thanks a lot aragorn, very helpful post


My daughter will be twelve next month and she's been training for 10 months. upper lower split, 10-12 reps, mostly big movements, no failure. She loves it and has quadrupled the weight on most exercises pretty much by accident. She's also grown several inches and is solid and healthy as could be. Eats like a horse and sleeps like a baby.


Look into the work of Brian Grasso. He specializes in training kids, especially kids in sports.

And check the library (or Amazon.com) for a copy of Dr. William Kraemer and Dr. Steven Fleck's great book "Strenght Training Fro Young Athletes." It covers a lot of basic material. Here's a snippet: