Question: My nine year old daughter wants to workout like her brothers and sisters who are older. She plays volleyball, soccer and softball. Should she workout with weights yet?
Answer: She is involved in three sports already which helps her to be well rounded with the basics of movement and by playing those sports she is developing multiple skill sets. That’s great! Weight training won’t hurt her at all but a better plan at her age would be to focus on developing substantial core strength, movement skills and flexibility. By teaching a young athlete correct form with basic exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges and horizontal pull-ups they learn movement and develop strength that translates well into sports.
Using light Dumbbells or resistance bands can be added as they get stronger but always maintain proper exercise form. Complex exercises like power cleans can be taught with an empty PVC pipe after the basics are mastered.
When weights are introduced they should be light enough not to interfere with the movement. Mastering the movement is crucial. Keep the reps for most of the exercises between ten and fifteen.
Most weight machines won’t fit younger children so for developing muscles like hamstrings, which is crucial, use a lying hamstring curl on the floor. They can lie on their back on a hardwood floor and place the feet on a towel or on light carpet use furniture moving disks. Pull the feet towards the hips. Lift the hips off the floor then return the feet back to start position extending the legs and lowering the hips.
Stretch after every workout with stretches for the hamstrings, quads, back, calves and IT band. Teach them the correlation between healthy eating, drinking water, sleeping and maximizing athletic performance.
These basics supply a solid foundation for making your athlete the best they can be. Make the workouts fun and challenging. Prior to puberty training makes kids stronger and more flexible but you won’t see dramatic physical changes. Their bodies develop rapidly after hormones kick into high gear.
God bless and keep training,