When is it OK to Start Lifting Weights?

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When my son Coy was 8 years old, he started competing in youth wrestling and football.  Even at that age I could already see that he had quite a bit of natural athletic talent (my wife says he got that from her. Hmmm).  He enjoyed having athletic success but wanted to do more.  He would see the older boys lifting weights and doing other strenuous workouts and wanted to do the same.  So I wondered at what age should I allow him to start lifting weights.  I spoke with many high school and college coaches, as well as strength coaches and got different answers from everyone.  But none of them sounded right to me. Then I remembered that one of the members of my church was the head athletic trainer at a local D-III college.  When I asked him the same question this was his reply.

“A child of 7 years and older can lift any type of weight so long as they can lift it 50 or more repetitions without breaking a sweat.  In other words, an arobic-type workout with low weight and lots of reps”.  He said that type of lifting would actually strengthen his growth plates and help in the overall physical development of my son.  It would make what muscle he already had stronger but would not build muscle mass or power.  Then after he had completely gone through puberty he could start lifting heavier weights and doing less reps which would then build muscle and power.  Another piece of advice he gave me was not to ever let Coy lift any weights without me being there.  He said you know what will happen.  The first time I’m not there to supervise he will add more weight to the bar on his own and that would not be good.

Of all the opinions and advice I received, his made perfect sense and I trusted him.  So I put together a program and Coy started doing as many pushups, situps and pull-ups that he could.  He would also lift very light weights for many reps without exerting himself.  It paid off.  Coy was always the strongest and most fit player on the field or wrestling mat.

I realize that as a parent it can be very exciting to see your child’s athletic potential even at an early age.  But DON’T rush things!  Follow the plan above and be disciplined with it.  Explain this training philosophy to your child.  Then give them a timeline for their progress so they will know what to expect and when.

No matter what sport an athlete competes in, if they want to be the best they have to be strong.

Use this same philosophy all through middle school and high school.  When they get to college you won’t have to worry about their training anymore.

It will all be worth the WEIGHT!

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