Although the age at which a child should begin weight lifting (or exercising regularly in general) is widely debated, a child could easily begin to lift weights at the age of 8 years old. Many people might freak out at the sound of an 8-year-old boy pumping iron, but it isn’t a far-fetched idea. In fact, starting to lift weights at a young age has plenty of benefits for a child’s overall health in the future when they are no longer a child. Some benefits of early weight lifting (and exercise in general) include:
* Strengthening the bones now and into the future.
* Giving your child’s body some lean muscle.
* Keeping your child’s weight at a healthy level.
* Improving overall health of your child.
* Raising their self-esteem at a young age.
As you can see, these benefits cannot be denied because they have been proven as results of young weight lifting (and exercising). You don’t want to have your child lift weights any earlier than the age of eight, however, that can be too dangerous of an idea. However, starting your child at this age is a perfect idea because they are starting to grow even more than they already have in recent years. So how do you go about teaching your child to lift weights safely?
Talking to Your Child
First of all, you’ll want to talk to your child to see if they are interested in lifting weights. Some kids obviously won’t like the idea of just standing around with heavy objects in their hands. However, many kids will be enthusiastic about it because they have seen their parents or someone else lifting weights. If your child wants to attempt it, then you’ll want to tell them the following things.
#1: Weight lifting is not an easy task. It takes discipline and hard work. It will leave them pretty worn out after each workout.
#2: They are only going to be lifting small weights for awhile so that their body can get used to lifting weights.
#3: They must never lift more than they think they can or they can become seriously injured.
#4: They can stop working out whenever they feel tired or don’t want to do it anymore.
#5: They can NEVER lift weights without an adult around that is watching them.
Obviously, you aren’t there to push your child into doing something they don’t want to do. You aren’t there to wear them out until they can’t move anymore. As a parent, your only job is to get them into the basics of weight lifting to a point where they enjoy it and want to do it for the years to come. Also, you MUST ALWAYS supervise them when they lift weights.
For starting out, you will want to purchase a really light set of weights. You probably want to go with one-handed dumbbells because they are easy to hold and aren’t as heavy as two-handed ones. Buy a pair each of the following:
* 1 LB dumbbells
* 3 LB dumbbells
* 5 LB dumbbells
* 10 LB dumbbells (possibly)
During the first few workouts with your son (or daughter but not recommended at that age), you’ll want to have them try out the different amounts of weights to see what they are comfortable with. Have them try out different weight lifting exercises. You will probably want them to give these a shot:
* Normal curls
* Hammer curls
* Bench presses
* Triceps extensions
Obviously, you want to give them the smallest weights first because an 8 year-old child might not be able to lift anything more than five pounds for awhile. That is perfectly okay. Have them try it once to make sure they can do it and then have them try a set or two of five repetitions each. No matter what, you don’t want your child to be doing tons of sets and repetitions. Their bodies can’t handle that type of stress and they won’t be able to recover as quickly as a grown adult. After those first few workouts, your child may decide that they hate weight lifting and never do it again. Some children will choose to continue on because they like it. Really, it just depends upon your son’s personality and likes or dislikes.
I won’t go into much detail here, but you’ll want to design a routine with your child that they can somewhat easily do (it should still be challenging though) on a regular basis. Basically, just create a workout that they will have fun doing that doesn’t involve too much weight or too many repetitions – just something to get their bodies into shape. You can increase workouts later on – with their agreement. For good measure, you’ll probably only want your child to lift weights 2 to 3 times per week for awhile so that you don’t hurt them or wear them out. A child isn’t going to enjoy lifting weights every weekday; they will probably quit and scream at you if you push them too hard, so don’t.
* Like any other person, a child is going to need plenty of water and breaks in between sets. Obviously, they’ll need more days of rest than a grown person, so don’t make them do a workout every day. You should shoot for them to workout every other day or only three times per week. Give them as much water as they ask for, unless they’re trying to drink gallons.
* Know when to call it a day. You don’t want your child straining so much that they are sweating like a dog. Obviously, you want to stop long before that situation comes up. Only have them workout to the point where it is challenging but still easily doable.
* Don’t rush to increase the weight they are lifting. An 8 year-old child might only ever lift five or ten pounds. Luckily, many fifteen year-old teens can’t even lift ten pounds with one arm (it’s surprisingly and sadly true), so your child doesn’t need to be a mini-Superman.
* Listen to your child. Therefore, stop whenever they say they want to stop. Don’t push them to do anything they don’t want to or that’s just bad parenting.
* Workout with your child. You can lift weights yourself as a real exercise program that you enjoy with your child. Of course, you might not be physically inclined to exercise. In that case, then just buy yourself a matching set of light weights and workout with your child as more a joke to yourself but a real workout to them. It works.