A few months back, a photo made the rounds on the Internet. It featured a young boy showing off his toned, plumped-up arms and six-pack for the camera. He looked more like an adult bodybuilder than an elementary school student. He couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, causing many people to wonder if he was too young to have such large muscles.
Whether the photo was altered or real, it brought up an important topic all parents should research: strength training for kids.
Strength training is typically associated with the use of free weights, weight machines and resistance bands to build toned muscles. It can have many benefits for children, teens and adults, including stronger ligaments and tendons, improved bone density and, of course, increased strength.
But how young is too young, and furthermore, how much is too much when talking about strength training for kids?
According to KidsHealth.org, “if your child is ready to participate in organized sports or activities such as baseball, soccer or gymnastics, it is usually safe to start strength training.” The website goes on the clarify that kids as young as 7 or 8 years old can usually do strength-training activities.
That doesn’t mean you should go buy a set of free weights and let your child have at it. Simple exercises like push-ups and sit-ups count as strength training, too, and these might be more appropriate for younger kids.
If your child shows interest in strength training, make sure to talk with their doctor before starting any exercise regimen. A health-care professional can advise you on what is safe for your child’s age and body type.
One thing every parent should note is that strength training for kids is very different from what it is for adults. A trainer who has experience working with kids can develop a healthy program that is safe for your child, and it should never mimic what you would do.
Remember, kids’ strength training is not weight lifting or bodybuilding. Experts agree these types of activities are not recommended for children or teens. Being toned and healthy is the focus, and bulking up should be left to professional bodybuilders.