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Muscle Growth, Resistance Training

At What Age is it Safe to Start Weight Training?

By Joe Talarico on May 9, 2022 3:00:00 PM
4 Minutes Reading Time

 

If you have a child that’s interested in weightlifting young, that's amazing! Whether they want to add it to help their sports performance, or just want to get stronger and gain confidence, allowing your child to include resistance training can do wonders for their mental and physical well being. In terms of what is the proper age, that depends on what they are trying to learn. Lifting weights will not stunt a child’s growth. It will increase their coordination, and give them a boost in their hormones and mind muscle connection.

Body Awareness

In terms of what exact age, it’s hard to say. Kids can start super young and just take gymnastics classes, and stuff that will allow them to work on body awareness. They probably won’t need to start including added resistance till they are 15 or older, but in the meantime learning to build their strength on their stabilizing muscles will create an incredible foundation for when they are ready.

Start with bodyweight exercises. This will allow them to focus on coordination, and learning to transfer power and strength within their own limits. If you look at the best athletes out there, the one thing they all have in common above everything else is control of their power. Most kids are playing sports, so learning how to be explosive and decelerate will go a long way in improving their performance.

Focus on Compounds

When they are ready to lift weights, and have spent time building that bodyweight foundation, start to include the big lifts like squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench, lunges, etc. A big thing to note is there is no need for them to focus right away on always adding weight. Again, like with any sport, we’re learning a new skill. Spend time focusing on proper technique execution. Make sure your child knows what correct movement looks and feels like vs improper execution. Hire a trainer who has worked with kids before, who can help streamline this process.

The biggest issue I see with adults working out is lack of technique. All the injuries and worries more parents have for their kids stem from the lack of prioritizing everything I mentioned above. When the foundation goes from body weight to proper technique, they’ll progress WAY more in terms of strength in the long run vs just trying to jump up in weight for the sake of showing off strength.

Progressive Overload

Once they start showing great control over the main lifts, it’s time for progressive overload. Slowly have them add one more rep, or 5 more pounds than the week before. This is the time to now express this newfound strength they’ve gained. Don’t get caught up with influencers, crappy programming, and ridiculous promises. Kids getting into weightlifting don’t need to be doing all these isolation exercises for their shoulders and arms. Their testosterone and ability to gain size off the big lifts is already so great that just focusing on getting REALLY good at the main lifts will give them an incredible physique.

Let them be skeptical! Anyone new to lifting should be asking questions. They should be looking up right and wrong ways to do things, and seeing how their body responds to different exercises. They may find over time that their body responds better to certain adjustments and slight tweaks.

What to Focus on Outside of the Gym

Make sure they are eating to fuel their performance! If they are trying to get stronger they need to be eating to fuel that! Increasing their protein intake, eating high quality foods, and staying hydrated are all huge focuses they can engrain while they are young that will help determine how quickly or not they put on size or get stronger.

I generally don’t see a need for supplementation when kids are young. As mentioned before, their bodies are already primed for making huge strides in the gym compared to an adult, and adding supplementation potentially misses the opportunity for them to learn the importance of how eating quality foods will affect their gains.  

Be sure to check out my articles on How to Increase Your Strength on the Major Lifts and The Best Way to Build Strength in the Gym Fast for more tips on how to optimize your time in the gym.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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