Starting Early: Strength Training for Children

By: neofuture
Many people are skeptical about just how healthy childhood weight training can be, but parents should put their fears to rest-Children as young as six years old can benefit from participating in weight training. Contrary to the popular myth, children who hit the gym with their parents do not have stunted growth. In fact, weight training has few disadvantages for children. If your child want to be active and you want some extra family time, try using the weight room together for a fun experience that instills healthy habits into your child's mindset at a young age.

Children should not begin weight training or other workouts until they are physically and emotionally mature enough to handle it. This falls around age 6 for most children. If you are still unsure, you doctor can help you determine if your child's body is ready for the gym. As a parent, you will know if your child is mentally ready-injuries can happen if not careful, so your child should be able to listen and follow directions to prevent this from happening.

Of course, your child's routine should not be nearly as intense as an adult routine. At this point in their lives, it is more important for children to learn healthy habits at the gym instead of trying to build muscle mass. Until your child goes through puberty, they are unlikely to build muscles because the level of testosterone will be very low. Instead, your child will generally feel better and notice an increase in strength and endurance. This is important for children who participate in sports and for children who are overweight.

A trainer or coach can help you determine the correct routine for you child, but generally, you just want to make sure that your son or daughter works out the entire body and has adequate warm up and cool down time. Start with about 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercises. One activity that children like is jump roping, but if you have a group of children, you can also play an outdoor game to get the heart pumping as well, such as tag. Once your child has warmed up, do one weighted exercise for each group of muscles. Unlike you, your child should not push his or her limits to the edge, but instead focus on gradually increasing weight over a longer period of time. End the workout with 10-20 minutes of stretching to help you and your child cool down.

Realize that not every day at the gym is a good day, so excuse your child's misbehavior occasionally. You might want to consider working out at a gym specifically for children or families to avoid getting in the way of serious bodybuilders. Weight training together can be a fun activity and may motivate you to stick to your healthy schedule.
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