How Young is Too Young to Start Training?


Question:  As I read more about how our children are going to live a shorter lifespan due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise I wanted to be proactive with my kids. How young can they start exercising?

Answer: Exercise should start as soon as possible but we called it playing when we were children. If you are referring to a gym membership, or lifting weights, we have trained kids as young as eight but prefer to wait until the sixth or seventh grade as they begin to experience some of the physical changes of puberty.

Doing body weight exercises with your kids by making it a game and setting a good example as a parent is the best way to influence your kids to be physically fit. Even then, one of the primary rules for kids exercising is to make it fun and challenging but not too challenging. There is no reason for kids to be ” maxing out” or using weight so heavy that they can’t perform more than 10 reps for an exercise.

Teach the rep whether it is a push-up or a bench press. Teach them to activate the muscles instead or moving weight or attaining a specific number of reps.  Stimulate both the muscles and nervous system with fun challenges but not so much as to annihilate the muscles or the individual.

Unfortunately, the current method of training that receives enormous publicity is one of extreme challenge with little regard for training, tiered recovery and new challenges. Remind children, especially high school athletes, that recovery, growth and muscle memory occur primarily during sleep. The availability of information, social media and entertainment tends to drain kids of down time with the constant stimulation surrounding them.

Training too intensely, using only the premise of making the routine increasingly difficult with little or no regard for what motor units are being challenged or muscle system balance, often builds an individual with weak points in the kinetic chain when the training is required to translate into a sport. The routines being used may call for a series of exercises without regard to how unbalanced the body may become. NFL running back , Knowshon Moreno felt his off-season training a couple of years ago was unbalanced and responsible for his injuries during the season.

Sound nutrition is vital to recovery and growth and the amount of highly processed foods kids consume is costing them their health. It’s not the school system’s fault the blame is on the parents.

Kids need less electronic and internet games and more physically active families to reverse the current trend.

God bless and keep training,