Should kids lift and if so, how?!?!
As with everything, what can be good can also be bad… It comes down to quantity and quality. No time is too early to start the love and joy of being active. What is most important is learning body control and muscle memory. We never want to poor body control or over use and induce tendinosis, joint pain, or growth plate damage. The safest way to start a child into working out is to follow a few simple guidelines.
To best protect the child these criteria should be followed.
- Younger children should be mature enough to follow instructions, behave appropriately and should be supervised at all times.
- Master the basics first. Proper form and technique must be maintained in all “lifts.”
- Weight-training should only be part of a child’s exercise regime (sports, play and other movement related activities are also important).
- Children should avoid all maximal or near-maximal lifts. ACSM specifically states that children should work with a resistance that will allow them to perform no fewer than eight repetitions. (however 12-15 reps is safer)
- Special care must be taken to avoid overuse injuries, which growing children are more predisposed to (keep the exercise routine varied to prevent continued stress on any particular part of the body and limit the number of days a week, no pain from prior days lift).
- Perfection of body weight movements should be achieved before adding any weight (calisthenics-based: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, planks)
- Being Active
- Bonding with parent
- Learning body awareness
- Prevent future injuries
- Improve athletic ability
- Overuse injuries
- Improper form or exercise can cause imbalances
- Improper form or exercise can cause injuries
- Too much weight can cause injuries (some permanent).
I recommend not having the young athlete lift with weight until spending several months gaining the strength and body awareness to easily control their own body. This can come in forms of body weight calisthenics, yoga style stretching/exercising, stability core and then progressing to light resistance with bands or TRX style exercises. When weight is to be added it is best done by staring with light free weights and repetitions should be 10-15. There is no set age for increasing complexity o lifts as some people will progress quickly and others may struggle for a long time.
- Focus on multi direction stability motions
- Limit or remove use of machines
- Avoid complex lifts until basic lifts are mastered.
- Body weight -> Bands-> Very low weight
- Take rest days
- Mix it up
- Form (close to perfect as possible at all times)