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Give This a Try: Strength Training for Kids

Thirty years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a paper warning:

“Children and adolescents should avoid the practice of weight lifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, as well as the repetitive use of maximal amounts of weight in strength training programs, until they have reached Tanner stage 5 level of developmental maturity.”

Tanner stage 5 is basically physical adulthood. But over these 30 years, the science around strength training, including weightlifting, for kids has been flipped upside down. In 2020, the AAP published a report endorsing a wide variety of strength training for kids, including weightlifting. Key points expressed in the report are:

"Positive outcomes of improved strength in youth continue to be acknowledged, including improvements in health, fitness, rehabilitation of injuries, injury reduction, and physical literacy."

and


"Resistance training is not limited to lifting weights but includes a wide array of body weight movements that can be implemented at young ages to improve declining measures of muscular fitness among children and adolescents."

and


"Scientific research supports a wide acceptance that children and adolescents can gain strength with resistance training with low injury rates if the activities are performed with an emphasis on proper technique and are well supervised."

Additionally, strength training shows children the importance of exercise and activity at a young age to set the tone throughout the rest of their lives.

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Check for preexisting health conditions

If your child is healthy then proceed to step 2! The AAP highlights health conditions such as poorly controlled hypertension and seizure disorders, as well as preexisting heart conditions as requiring physician consultation before beginning strength training. For everybody else, go ahead and get started!

Step 2: Use child’s age to determine the best strength training methods

If the child is younger than 7 or 8 years old, then bodyweight exercises that involve climbing, jumping, crawling, pulling, and pushing are great. All of these can be done during free play on most playgrounds. But if you want to get intentional, here are three great strength-training exercises your kids can do at home:

PLANKS

Instructions:

  1. Get in a position similar to a pushup with your elbows directly under your shoulder and on the floor.
  2. Your knees are on the floor at the start, but bring them upwards away from the floor while tightening your core and abdominal muscles.
  3. Bring your torso to a position where the body is completely straight through the back, hips, and legs, and hold this position for as long as possible. Work your way up to 30-second holds for each repetition.


PUSH-UPS

Instructions:

  1. Lie facedown on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Tighten your entire body so it remains a straight line, and then push your body upwards by straightening your arms.
  3. Keep your body solid and straight the entire time. Push upwards until your arms are totally straight, and then slowly lower back down to the floor.
  4. If your child is strong enough, their arms will do all the work, and they won't need help with their knees.
  5. But if they're not strong enough, start by using knees on the ground.

SQUAT JUMPS

Instructions:

  1. Get in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and just wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Squat down as though you are sitting on a chair, pushing your butt backward.
  3. Keep your knees from going forward past the plane of your feet. Keep your back upright and do not lean forward when you squat down.
  4. Go downwards to make your knees a 90-degree angle, and then explode upwards and jump into the air.
  5. Repeat the same motion when you come down to cushion the landing and go immediately into the next repetition.

To incentivize these workouts, some parents like to make screen time contingent on doing these first.

For kids older than 7 or 8, more formal strength training can be used. The AAP recommends finding a qualified instructor who can adapt a training program to the unique needs of your child. However, if time and/or money are an issue, bodyweight strength training at home is highly effective and can always be used.

Step 3: Experiment to find what your child enjoys

The best exercises are the ones we enjoy the most. Experiment with a wide variety of strength training approaches to find what your child really loves. A few well-known approaches are:

Experts agree that strength training is one of the most important activities we can do for lifelong health and vitality. We can set our kids up for a life of thriving by starting early and helping them find the activities they love best.


Give This a Try: Strength Training for Kids

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Give This a Try: Strength Training for Kids

Science shows that strength training is totally healthy for kids when done correctly!

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Key takeaways

1

Experts used to think that strength training, and weightlifting, in particular, was potentially harmful to kids

2

Expert opinion has done a 180, and now it's clear that strength training is good for kids and weightlifting can be done safely after age 7 or 8

3

Our expert team suggests three steps to get your kids into strength training

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Thirty years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a paper warning:

“Children and adolescents should avoid the practice of weight lifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, as well as the repetitive use of maximal amounts of weight in strength training programs, until they have reached Tanner stage 5 level of developmental maturity.”

Tanner stage 5 is basically physical adulthood. But over these 30 years, the science around strength training, including weightlifting, for kids has been flipped upside down. In 2020, the AAP published a report endorsing a wide variety of strength training for kids, including weightlifting. Key points expressed in the report are:

"Positive outcomes of improved strength in youth continue to be acknowledged, including improvements in health, fitness, rehabilitation of injuries, injury reduction, and physical literacy."

and


"Resistance training is not limited to lifting weights but includes a wide array of body weight movements that can be implemented at young ages to improve declining measures of muscular fitness among children and adolescents."

and


"Scientific research supports a wide acceptance that children and adolescents can gain strength with resistance training with low injury rates if the activities are performed with an emphasis on proper technique and are well supervised."

Additionally, strength training shows children the importance of exercise and activity at a young age to set the tone throughout the rest of their lives.

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Check for preexisting health conditions

If your child is healthy then proceed to step 2! The AAP highlights health conditions such as poorly controlled hypertension and seizure disorders, as well as preexisting heart conditions as requiring physician consultation before beginning strength training. For everybody else, go ahead and get started!

Step 2: Use child’s age to determine the best strength training methods

If the child is younger than 7 or 8 years old, then bodyweight exercises that involve climbing, jumping, crawling, pulling, and pushing are great. All of these can be done during free play on most playgrounds. But if you want to get intentional, here are three great strength-training exercises your kids can do at home:

PLANKS

Instructions:

  1. Get in a position similar to a pushup with your elbows directly under your shoulder and on the floor.
  2. Your knees are on the floor at the start, but bring them upwards away from the floor while tightening your core and abdominal muscles.
  3. Bring your torso to a position where the body is completely straight through the back, hips, and legs, and hold this position for as long as possible. Work your way up to 30-second holds for each repetition.


PUSH-UPS

Instructions:

  1. Lie facedown on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Tighten your entire body so it remains a straight line, and then push your body upwards by straightening your arms.
  3. Keep your body solid and straight the entire time. Push upwards until your arms are totally straight, and then slowly lower back down to the floor.
  4. If your child is strong enough, their arms will do all the work, and they won't need help with their knees.
  5. But if they're not strong enough, start by using knees on the ground.

SQUAT JUMPS

Instructions:

  1. Get in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and just wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Squat down as though you are sitting on a chair, pushing your butt backward.
  3. Keep your knees from going forward past the plane of your feet. Keep your back upright and do not lean forward when you squat down.
  4. Go downwards to make your knees a 90-degree angle, and then explode upwards and jump into the air.
  5. Repeat the same motion when you come down to cushion the landing and go immediately into the next repetition.

To incentivize these workouts, some parents like to make screen time contingent on doing these first.

For kids older than 7 or 8, more formal strength training can be used. The AAP recommends finding a qualified instructor who can adapt a training program to the unique needs of your child. However, if time and/or money are an issue, bodyweight strength training at home is highly effective and can always be used.

Step 3: Experiment to find what your child enjoys

The best exercises are the ones we enjoy the most. Experiment with a wide variety of strength training approaches to find what your child really loves. A few well-known approaches are:

Experts agree that strength training is one of the most important activities we can do for lifelong health and vitality. We can set our kids up for a life of thriving by starting early and helping them find the activities they love best.


Thirty years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a paper warning:

“Children and adolescents should avoid the practice of weight lifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, as well as the repetitive use of maximal amounts of weight in strength training programs, until they have reached Tanner stage 5 level of developmental maturity.”

Tanner stage 5 is basically physical adulthood. But over these 30 years, the science around strength training, including weightlifting, for kids has been flipped upside down. In 2020, the AAP published a report endorsing a wide variety of strength training for kids, including weightlifting. Key points expressed in the report are:

"Positive outcomes of improved strength in youth continue to be acknowledged, including improvements in health, fitness, rehabilitation of injuries, injury reduction, and physical literacy."

and


"Resistance training is not limited to lifting weights but includes a wide array of body weight movements that can be implemented at young ages to improve declining measures of muscular fitness among children and adolescents."

and


"Scientific research supports a wide acceptance that children and adolescents can gain strength with resistance training with low injury rates if the activities are performed with an emphasis on proper technique and are well supervised."

Additionally, strength training shows children the importance of exercise and activity at a young age to set the tone throughout the rest of their lives.

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Check for preexisting health conditions

If your child is healthy then proceed to step 2! The AAP highlights health conditions such as poorly controlled hypertension and seizure disorders, as well as preexisting heart conditions as requiring physician consultation before beginning strength training. For everybody else, go ahead and get started!

Step 2: Use child’s age to determine the best strength training methods

If the child is younger than 7 or 8 years old, then bodyweight exercises that involve climbing, jumping, crawling, pulling, and pushing are great. All of these can be done during free play on most playgrounds. But if you want to get intentional, here are three great strength-training exercises your kids can do at home:

PLANKS

Instructions:

  1. Get in a position similar to a pushup with your elbows directly under your shoulder and on the floor.
  2. Your knees are on the floor at the start, but bring them upwards away from the floor while tightening your core and abdominal muscles.
  3. Bring your torso to a position where the body is completely straight through the back, hips, and legs, and hold this position for as long as possible. Work your way up to 30-second holds for each repetition.


PUSH-UPS

Instructions:

  1. Lie facedown on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Tighten your entire body so it remains a straight line, and then push your body upwards by straightening your arms.
  3. Keep your body solid and straight the entire time. Push upwards until your arms are totally straight, and then slowly lower back down to the floor.
  4. If your child is strong enough, their arms will do all the work, and they won't need help with their knees.
  5. But if they're not strong enough, start by using knees on the ground.

SQUAT JUMPS

Instructions:

  1. Get in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and just wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Squat down as though you are sitting on a chair, pushing your butt backward.
  3. Keep your knees from going forward past the plane of your feet. Keep your back upright and do not lean forward when you squat down.
  4. Go downwards to make your knees a 90-degree angle, and then explode upwards and jump into the air.
  5. Repeat the same motion when you come down to cushion the landing and go immediately into the next repetition.

To incentivize these workouts, some parents like to make screen time contingent on doing these first.

For kids older than 7 or 8, more formal strength training can be used. The AAP recommends finding a qualified instructor who can adapt a training program to the unique needs of your child. However, if time and/or money are an issue, bodyweight strength training at home is highly effective and can always be used.

Step 3: Experiment to find what your child enjoys

The best exercises are the ones we enjoy the most. Experiment with a wide variety of strength training approaches to find what your child really loves. A few well-known approaches are:

Experts agree that strength training is one of the most important activities we can do for lifelong health and vitality. We can set our kids up for a life of thriving by starting early and helping them find the activities they love best.


Thirty years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a paper warning:

“Children and adolescents should avoid the practice of weight lifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, as well as the repetitive use of maximal amounts of weight in strength training programs, until they have reached Tanner stage 5 level of developmental maturity.”

Tanner stage 5 is basically physical adulthood. But over these 30 years, the science around strength training, including weightlifting, for kids has been flipped upside down. In 2020, the AAP published a report endorsing a wide variety of strength training for kids, including weightlifting. Key points expressed in the report are:

"Positive outcomes of improved strength in youth continue to be acknowledged, including improvements in health, fitness, rehabilitation of injuries, injury reduction, and physical literacy."

and


"Resistance training is not limited to lifting weights but includes a wide array of body weight movements that can be implemented at young ages to improve declining measures of muscular fitness among children and adolescents."

and


"Scientific research supports a wide acceptance that children and adolescents can gain strength with resistance training with low injury rates if the activities are performed with an emphasis on proper technique and are well supervised."

Additionally, strength training shows children the importance of exercise and activity at a young age to set the tone throughout the rest of their lives.

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Check for preexisting health conditions

If your child is healthy then proceed to step 2! The AAP highlights health conditions such as poorly controlled hypertension and seizure disorders, as well as preexisting heart conditions as requiring physician consultation before beginning strength training. For everybody else, go ahead and get started!

Step 2: Use child’s age to determine the best strength training methods

If the child is younger than 7 or 8 years old, then bodyweight exercises that involve climbing, jumping, crawling, pulling, and pushing are great. All of these can be done during free play on most playgrounds. But if you want to get intentional, here are three great strength-training exercises your kids can do at home:

PLANKS

Instructions:

  1. Get in a position similar to a pushup with your elbows directly under your shoulder and on the floor.
  2. Your knees are on the floor at the start, but bring them upwards away from the floor while tightening your core and abdominal muscles.
  3. Bring your torso to a position where the body is completely straight through the back, hips, and legs, and hold this position for as long as possible. Work your way up to 30-second holds for each repetition.


PUSH-UPS

Instructions:

  1. Lie facedown on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Tighten your entire body so it remains a straight line, and then push your body upwards by straightening your arms.
  3. Keep your body solid and straight the entire time. Push upwards until your arms are totally straight, and then slowly lower back down to the floor.
  4. If your child is strong enough, their arms will do all the work, and they won't need help with their knees.
  5. But if they're not strong enough, start by using knees on the ground.

SQUAT JUMPS

Instructions:

  1. Get in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and just wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Squat down as though you are sitting on a chair, pushing your butt backward.
  3. Keep your knees from going forward past the plane of your feet. Keep your back upright and do not lean forward when you squat down.
  4. Go downwards to make your knees a 90-degree angle, and then explode upwards and jump into the air.
  5. Repeat the same motion when you come down to cushion the landing and go immediately into the next repetition.

To incentivize these workouts, some parents like to make screen time contingent on doing these first.

For kids older than 7 or 8, more formal strength training can be used. The AAP recommends finding a qualified instructor who can adapt a training program to the unique needs of your child. However, if time and/or money are an issue, bodyweight strength training at home is highly effective and can always be used.

Step 3: Experiment to find what your child enjoys

The best exercises are the ones we enjoy the most. Experiment with a wide variety of strength training approaches to find what your child really loves. A few well-known approaches are:

Experts agree that strength training is one of the most important activities we can do for lifelong health and vitality. We can set our kids up for a life of thriving by starting early and helping them find the activities they love best.


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