When to Start Weight Training for Kids


Daryl Laws
Question: How old can young athletes begin training with weights and what exactly should they do? My son is entering the sixth grade and though he isn’t eligible to play middle school sports now, he wants to prepare for next year.

Answer: Kids should be running and playing active games with other kids outside regularly. Running games like tag, and it’s spin-off, freeze tag or dodge ball – all are fun activities kids used to play which were effective in conditioning and building athletic skills without being involved an organized sport. These are just a few of the things kids played as soon as they were past toddler stage.

So the answer to your question,”When” is as soon as they want to begin, they can train.

In China very young children who show athletic potential are singled out and sent to train at early stages of development to maximize their potential. Here, we just let kids play and be kids, but recently it seems that kids are playing one or two sports and the fun appears to have been wrung out of them.

Though “when” is as soon as they want to be active, the ” how” is important at developmental ages. Use body weight exercises for kids as young as five or six, just make it fun for the kids. Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, planks, squats and lunges are all very effective in helping to strengthen core and movement muscles.

Weight training begins preferably in the sixth or seventh grade. The emphasis in the workouts is on light to moderate weight and perfect movement form. It’s not the time to determine how strong a kid is at this point. Usually, do two sets per exercise but keep the reps high from 10-20.

Two workouts a week are plenty at this age. As his body matures in a couple more years and puberty develops greater muscle mass and bone strength heavier weights can be used along with lower reps but it’s still not time to be attempting single rep max lifts.

At your sons age, use body weight exercises first, make it fun and challenging.

God bless and keep training,