The statistics are alarming: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children—and quadrupled in adolescents—in the past 30 years.
With childhood obesity rates at an all-time high (and the long-term health problems that result), there’s never been a better time to teach fitness—resistance training in particular—to the youth in your life. Exercise and physical activity are proven to provide children and teenagers with a variety of benefits and set them on a course for proper physical and emotional development.
That said, let’s dispel some old myths about weight training while young—and review things to consider along with some terrific exercises kids can enjoy.
Forget the Myths—and Make Fitness a Top Priority
Many parents are concerned that resistance training or weight training will negatively impact the skeletal and muscular growth of their child. Nothing could be further from the truth. With guidance from your child’s physician, coach or personal trainer, your kiddo can benefit from improved overall body composition and bone density and protect themselves against cardiovascular disease—just by engaging in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Fitness Considerations for Your Child
Encouraging your child to begin resistance training is a wonderful decision; however, it’s important to consider a few things before getting underway.
1. Proper Technique
- Building a foundation of fitness with the right information on proper form and efficient exercise is paramount to avoiding injury while reaping the benefits that exercise can offer. Before embarking on a formal resistance training program for your child, make sure a coach or other qualified fitness professional is also engaged to ensure proper form, technique and safety.
2. Compound Movements
- Instead of focusing on isolation exercises (popular resistance training exercises that only work one muscle group at a time) encourage your child to perform compound movements that move multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of compound movements include squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts. These movements focus on multiple muscle groups and help to improve overall body composition while avoiding overuse of single muscle groups.
3. Acute Variables
The acute variables—which include things like sets and repetitions, and workout frequency—for a child are going to look quite different when compared with your own workout program
- Sets and Repetitions: The typical resistance training program for a child should include one to three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions. Your fitness professional can help you and your child establish a starting benchmark from which to grow and improve.
- Frequency: Many studies point to the importance of children getting 30 minutes of daily exercise. Specific to resistance training, an ideal frequency for children is two to three days per week. Make sure to allow one or two rest days in between sessions.
- Exercise Selection: Focus on full-body workouts with an emphasis on compound movements. Having the right fitness accessories on hand—such as stability balls, resistance bands, medicine balls and yoga mats—can make these workouts even more fun and effective for kids.
TOP EXERCISES FOR YOUTH
Here’s a list of the best, safest, and most effective exercises for children and teenagers:
- *Bodyweight Squats
- *Side to Side Walking Squat (Crab Walk)
- *Walking Lunges
- *Single-leg Hops
Still not sure where to begin? Check out the great video below from the American Council on Exercise. Plus, feel free to visit Gym Source, where our friendly staff will show you the best fitness equipment and fitness accessories to get your child’s resistance training program underway.