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• Improve your child’s confidence and self-
esteem
When can a child begin
strength training?
During childhood, kids improve their body
awareness, control and balance through
active play. As early as age 7 or 8, however,
strength training can become a valuable
part of an overall fitness plan - as long
as the child is mature enough to follow
directions and practice proper technique
and form.
If your child expresses an interest in
strength training, remind him or her that
strength training is meant to increase
muscle strength and endurance. Bulking
up is something else entirely - and most
safely done after adolescence.
You might also check with your child’s
doctor for the OK to begin a strength
training program, especially if your child
has a known or suspected health problem
- such as a heart condition, high blood
pressure or a seizure disorder.
What’s the best way to start a
strength training program for
kids?
A child’s strength training program isn’t
necessarily a scaled-down version of what
an adult would do. Keep these general
principles in mind:
• Seek instruction.
Start with a coach
or personal trainer who has experience
with youth strength training. The coach
or trainer can create a safe, effective
strength training program based on
your child’s age, size, skills and sports
interests. Or enroll your child in a
strength training class designed for kids.
• Warm up and cool down.
Encourage
your child to begin each strength
training session with five to 10 minutes
of light aerobic activity, such as walking,
jogging in place or jumping rope. This
warms the muscles and prepares them
for more vigorous activity. Gentle
stretching after each session is a good
idea, too.
• Keep it light.
Kids can safely lift adult-
size weights, as long as the weight is
light enough. In most cases, one set of
12 to 15 repetitions is all it takes. The
resistance doesn’t have to come from
weights, either. Resistance tubing and
body-weight exercises, such as push-ups,
are other effective options.
• Stress proper technique.
Rather
than focusing on the amount of weight
your child lifts, stress proper form
and technique during each exercise.
Your child can gradually increase the
resistance or number of repetitions as he
or she gets older.
• Supervise.
Adult supervision is an
important part of youth strength
training. Don’t let your child go it alone.
• Rest between workouts.
Make sure
your child rests at least one full day
between exercising each specific muscle
group. Two or three strength training
sessions a week are plenty.
• Keep it fun.
Help your child vary the
routine to prevent boredom.
Results won’t come overnight. Eventually,
however, your child will notice a difference
in muscle strength and endurance - which
might fuel a fitness habit that lasts a
lifetime.
H