A Weight Training Workout for Kids

Kids and Teens Can Benefit From Lifting Free Weights

teenage boy lifting weights
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Does your child or teen want to build strength and stamina? Pediatricians and youth fitness trainers say it is safe and beneficial introduce young people to supervised, progressive weight training.

Benefits of Strength Training for Kids

Resistance exercise used in strength training builds muscle strength and stamina. This builds lean body mass and improves the metabolic rate, which is good for everyone, but especially beneficial for kids who are overweight. Strength training on a regular basis is good for heart health, cholesterol levels, and building strong bones. Strength training is also a part of programs to reduce knee injuries for girls.

Preparing for a Workout Program for Adolescents

Weight training is appropriate once a child can maintain balance and postural control and can listen to and follow directions. This is usually around age 7 or 8 but depends on your child's maturity level. Your child should also want to do this activity and be prepared to train multiple times per week.

Before a young teen starts a formal weight training program, an evaluation by a pediatrician or sports medicine doctor is recommended. There are a few conditions where weight training is not recommended, including for children with uncontrolled high blood pressure, seizure disorders, or having undergone chemotherapy for childhood cancers.

A qualified trainer with some experience in training teens should supervise participants at all times, especially for groups that are likely to lose concentration. Good form and progression of loads over time and fitness are essential for any novice weight trainer, but especially with young, developing, and immature bodies. Supervision for this age group is very important.

When choosing a place to work out, look for a well-equipped gym with equipment that is adjustable for the light loads required for the less-robust adolescents of this age. If a gym isn't an option, light dumbbells or bodyweight exercises can be substituted for the machine equipment and barbells referenced below.

Sample Adolescent Free Weights Training Program

Below is a typical gym weight training workout suitable for adolescents in the 12- to 15-year-old age group, and for both girls and boys.

Warmup: Warming up is essential in a weight training program no matter your age. The warmup should be 10 to 15 minutes in length to get the blood circulating into the muscles, preparing them for the strain they will be under during the workout. This helps minimize the risk of injury, such as muscle tearing, but it also improves performance during exercise overall. This same advice applies to participating in sporting events. Warm up with aerobics for 10 to 15 minutes, followed by a few form lifts with no weight load before each loaded exercise. This will help the body and mind to become acquainted with the proper form of each exercise, which is critical to safety and effectiveness.

Exercises: All exercises are performed in 2 sets and 10 repetitions.

  1. Barbell squats
  2. Incline dumbbell press
  3. Seated cable row
  4. Dumbbell arm curl
  5. Cable triceps pushdown
  6. Barbell deadlift
  7. Standard crunch
  8. Barbell, dumbbell or EZ bar bent-over row
  9. Cable pulldown

Cooldown: A good cooldown with light stretching, 5 to 10 minutes is also recommended.

Schedule: Train two to three times per week. The workout should last 20 to 30 minutes.

Progression: It's best at any age to increase the weights by no more than 10 percent per week. Coach your child to use this gradual progression.

View Article Sources
  • Strength Training. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Strength-Training.aspx.