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What Is The Best Workout For Children?

Regardless of what age your child is some form of physical activity is more important than you can possibly imagine. Take it from our forum members as they point out different strategies for the various age groups. Read on...

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: What Is The Best Workout For Children?

The Question:

With all the video games, television, computers, etc., it's no surprise children are becoming overweight and inactive. It is important to educate younger children about the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle. What is the best workout for children? Be specific. How can you motivate children to workout?

Bonus Question: Which age do you think is suitable for one to train with weights? Why?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    New Prizes:
      1st place - $75 in store credit.
      2nd place - $50 in store credit.

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1st Place - Biglachy03

To prevent injury, it is important for your child to warm up before exercising. This should include about five to ten minutes of light activity, such as walking, calisthenics (jumping jacks, bending, knee lifts), and stretching.

You may modify them if necessary to suit your particular circumstances. Increase or decrease the number of repetitions according to the children's particular needs and physical ability. When you first start these exercises, correct form is more important than speed. After you become familiar with them, you may increase the speed at which you perform them.

Most of them are considered cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises as well as strength building (anaerobic) exercises. They will also help you develop balance, coordination and agility. These exercises can be performed just about anywhere with little effort. Correct supervision is a NECESSITY, and SAFETY is the primary concern.

Exercise 1 - "Jumping Jacks"

    Areas Effected: leg and arm muscles:

Exercise 2 - "Slalom Jump"

    Effected Areas: leg muscles:

    While standing straight up with your feet together, squat down about half way, leaning slightly forward. Put your left arm in front of you and your right arm in back (running position). Lean and jump to the right while swinging your arms in the opposite position and keeping your feet together.

    You should now be to the right of your original starting position with your right arm in front of you, your left arm in back and your feet together with your knees bent in a crouched position.

    Now lean and jump back to your original position while swinging your arms back to their original position. (when you become comfortable with these exercises, you may increase their effectiveness by adding ankle and wrist weights (1-3 lbs.) when performing them). Perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

Exercise 3 - "Ski Jump"

    Effected Areas: legs and arms:

    From a standing position with your left leg and left arm in front of you and your right leg and right arm in the back, slightly bend your knees (running position). Jump up while swinging your arms and legs in the opposite direction before you land on the floor.

    You should now have your left leg and arm in back of you and your right leg and arm in the front. Now, jump up again while swinging your arms and legs in the opposite direction before you land on the floor.

    You should now have your left leg and left arm in front of you and your right leg and right arm in the back (original position). (when you become comfortable with these exercises, you may increase their effectiveness by adding ankle and wrist weights (1-3 lbs.) when performing them.) Perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

Exercise 4 - "Squat Thrust with Push"

    Effected Areas: leg and arm muscles, chest and back:

    Standing straight up with your feet about twelve inches apart and your hands down by your side. While keeping your back straight, crouch down by bending your knees until your hands touch the floor in front of your toes. This will be the "squat" position.

    With your hands flat on the floor in front of your feet, kick your feet straight out in back of you. This will be the "push-up" position. While keeping your legs and back straight, bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest touches the floor.

    Now straighten your elbows to raise your body back to the "push-up" position. Jump back to a "squat" position while keeping your hands on the floor. Now stand up straight to original "starting" position. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps.

Exercise 5 - "Alternate Toe Touch"

    Effected Areas: legs, arms, back and shoulders:

    From a standing position with your back straight and your feet about two feet apart, put your arms straight out beside you. While keeping your elbows and arms straight, bend forward and twist your body to touch your left toes with your right hand.

    Your left arm will be straight above you. Now return to your original straight up position with your arms straight out beside you. Repeat this technique to touch your right toes with your left hand, then return to your original position. Perform 2 sets of 10-20 reps.

Exercise 6 - "Stair Climber"

    Effected Areas: legs, ankles and feet:

    1. Walk up the stairs with only the ball of your foot coming in contact with each stair. Try to step smoothly with little or no impact and noise. Walk down the stairs using the same technique.
    2. Walk up the stairs using the same technique as step #1, but, skip every other stair. Walk down the stairs using the same technique as step #1, but, do NOT skip any stairs on the way down.
    3. Walk up the stairs while placing your foot flat on each stair with your heal hanging over the edge and pushing yourself up with your toes to the next stair. Walk down the stairs using the same technique as step #1.

    Perform 2 sets of 10-15 stairs/reps each way on all 3.

Exercise 7 - "Trunk Rotations"

    Effected Areas: back, sides and hips:

    From a straight standing position with your hands on your hips, rotate your upper body as far as possible in each direction. This exercise should be done with a smooth even motion. Do not rotate fast or jerk your body. Perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

Exercise 8 - "Shuttle Runs With Ball"

    Effected areas: total body:

    From a standing start, participants run a 10 meter shuttle, and perform any given ball skill (soccer ball shot, rugby pass, NFL catch, medicine ball throw etc). Perform 3 sets of 3min bouts.

    print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Children's Workout.

Health Benefits:

    All exercises labelled above incorporate both cardiovascular (aerobic) and strength (anaerobic) work which involves most of the time "whole body" exercises that encourage the children to train their sense of balance and coordination which are integral in the progressive development of a child's physiological systems.

    Health benefits can be derived simply from becoming more physically active, but the greatest benefits come from engaging in planned and structured exercise. Cardiovascular risk factors can be reduced and physical fitness enhanced with low to moderate levels of physical activity (40-60% of a person's maximal aerobic capacity) (Blair & Connelly, 1996).

    RELATED ARTICLE
    Getting Your Kids Physically Fit.
    Getting Your Kids Physically Fit.
    In a society that is becoming less patient and more sedentary everyday, it's no surprise that the child obesity rate has more than tripled in three decades. Don't let your children fall into this category.

    And, low- to moderate-intensity activity is less likely than vigorous exercise to cause musculoskeletal injury and sudden heart attack death during exercise (a very rare occurrence even for vigorous exercisers), while it is more likely to promote continued adherence to activity (Blair & Connelly, 1996; NIH, 1995).

    Current recommendations state that children and adolescents should strive for at least 30 minutes daily of moderate intensity physical activity (Pate, Pratt et al., 1995).

    An alternate approach that may be equally beneficial would be to engage in 5- (Blair & Connelly, 1996) to 10-minute (NIH, 1995) bouts of moderate intensity activity throughout the day, for a total accumulation of at least 30 minutes for adolescents and adults and 60 minutes for children (Pangrazi, Corbin, & Welk, 1996).

    Walking briskly or biking for pleasure or transportation, swimming, engaging in sports and games, participating in physical education, and doing tasks in the home and garden may all contribute to accumulated physical activity.

    All things aside, at the end of the day, all a child wants to do is to have FUN! They want to be constantly stimulated from one day to the next. Their minds are always shifting from one thing to the next, so when provided with all the variables, the best workout needs to be designed specifically and especially for their needs.


Motivation:
How can you motivate children to workout?

What motivates children and adolescents to continue and sustain physical activity levels? Why is there such a dramatic decline in physical activity during adolescence, and how can we stem the tide of declining physical activity levels?

Physical activity has been defined as "bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure" (Pate, Pratt et al., 1995). There is no debate about the value of physical exertion/regular physical activity has significant health benefits, and even modest increases in energy expenditure can have health-enhancing effects.

The Guidelines for School and Community Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity Among Young People (CDC, 1997) highlights the contributions that social-contextual, psychological, and emotional factors play in youths' physical activity behavior.

Most notably, perceptions of competence (e.g., physical ability, physical appearance), enjoyment of physical activity, and social support by parents, teachers/coaches, and peers were cited as essential influences on physical activity in children and teenagers.

Recent studies by sport and exercise psychologists provide empirical evidence for the role of these predictors of participation behavior, and specify the mechanisms by which these constructs effect change in behavior (Weiss, 2002; Weiss & Ferrer-Caja, 2003).

Motivation is defined as behavioral choice, effort, persistence, and performance and can be translated to the physiological jargon of frequency, intensity, duration, and level of physical activity.

Provide Optimal Challenges:

    An optimal challenge is one that matches the difficulty level of activities to the child's capabilities. Thus children's successful mastery of skills is within reach, but they must exert necessary effort and persistence to attain the goal.

Create A Mastery Motivational Climate:

    Coaches and teachers influence children's beliefs, affective responses, and behaviors by shaping the learning environment or motivational climate in which activities take place (Ames, 1992). Motivational climate focuses upon how success is defined, how children are evaluated, what is recognized and valued, and how mistakes are viewed.

RELATED ARTICLE
10 Factors To Help You Stay Motivated And Succeed. 10 Factors To Help You Stay Motivated And Succeed.
Everyone will have their own methods for what keeps them focused and determined to keep working towards their goals, but there are a few factors that are common to most people.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Make Physical Activity Fun:

    Time and again enjoyment emerges as a strong predictor of motivated behavior. When we enjoy the activities that we do, we want to do them more often. We know from studies with children and adolescents that high action and scoring, high personal involvement in the action, close games, and opportunities to affirm friendships is key to activity enjoyment (Coakley, 1993).

Help Children Help Themselves:

WHAT'S YOUR GOAL

goals
What Is Your Goal?
Is Your Goal Not Listed? Click Below To Learn More About Goal Setting.

    Mastering skills, achieving personal goals, and progressively improving are internal sources of information children and adolescents use to judge their physical competence. Goals that are specific, optimally challenging, and self-referenced will point youth in the right direction for sustaining physical activity motivation.

    Physical inactivity has become a serious problem in the United States. More than half of U.S. adults do not meet recommended levels of moderate physical activity, and one-fourth engage in no leisure time physical activity at all (PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, 1996).

    Inactivity is more prevalent among those with lower income and education, and, beginning in adolescence, affects females more than males (NIH, 1995; Physical Activity, 1996). A pattern of inactivity, also known as sedentism, begins early in life, making the promotion of physical activity among children imperative.


Bonus:
Which age do you think is suitable for one to train with weights? Why?

This is a rather delicate and long debated question in the health and fitness industry. Since children lack adequate levels of circulating androgens to stimulate increases in muscle hypertrophy, it is believed that neural adaptations are primarily responsible for training induced strength gains during childhood.

The observed training induced gains in muscle strength in children have been attributed to neural adaptations including changes in motor unit activation and motor unit coordination, recruitment and firing.

Researchers also postulate that intrinsic muscle adaptations as well as improvements in motor skill performance and the coordination of the involved muscle groups could be partly responsible for training-induced strength gains in children (Ramsay, Blimkey, Smith, Garner, MacDougall, & Sale, 1990).

However, my decision regarding the most suitable age to start weight training is adolescents. As I put forward to the case against children (up to 12) weight training, regardless of what the research says, I foresee the main problem as being complacency.

RELATED POLL
What Age Is Suitable To Start Training With Weights?

6 Or Under.
7-9.
10-12.
13-15.
16-17.
Only Adults Should Train With Weights.
Not Sure.

Children are constantly looking to move and change, they will rarely contain the dedication and persistence to stick to a well structured program, instead, opting to "mix-it-up" and therefore opening the door to inevitable injury due to lack of body maturation.

Whereas, during adolescence, training-induced strength gains in boys are associated with an increase in fat free mass due to hormonal influences (e.g., testosterone) whereas muscular development in girls is limited by lower levels of androgens. By the time youth reach their adolescence, they too can be open to the same lack of persistence as with children; however, it is other factors which now drive adolescents into weights.

To impress peers and the other gender, to increase their self-esteem, to take the next step into improving their athletic performance, and to advance their exercise related knowledge.

It has been recommended that children(up to age 12) and adolescents (13-18) resistance train two or three days per week on nonconsecutive days and perform 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions on a variety of exercises that focus on the major muscle groups (Faigenbaum et al., 1996).

However, when beginning a resistance training program, performing a single set of 10 to 15 repetitions per exercise twice per week will not only allow for positive changes in muscle function, but will also provide an opportunity for participants to gain confidence in their abilities before progressing to more advanced levels (Faigenbaum, Westcott, Loud, & Long, 1999).

Research into the effects of resistance exercise on children and adolescents has increased over the past decade, and the qualified acceptance of youth strength training by medical and fitness organizations has become almost universal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (2001), the American College of Sports Medicine (2000), the American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine (1988), and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Faigenbaum et al., 1996) support participation in youth resistance training activities provided the program is appropriately designed and competently supervised.

It should also be stated that the following guidelines should be considered by those who are interested in helping children and adolescents participate in resistance training programs.

  1. The program is adapted to the participant's developmental level.
  2. Proper instruction is given by qualified professionals.
  3. Start gradually and progressively increase the overload.
  4. It is critical to adhere to sound training principles appropriate to the participant.
  5. Proper technique should be taught and reinforced.
  6. Place an emphasis on intrinsic (internal/personal) enjoyment.
  7. Ensure variety is incorporated into the program.
  8. Consider multiple goals.
  9. Listen to the participant and teach them to listen to their bodies.

Resistance training can be recommended to children and adolescents as one part of a well-rounded physical activity program that also includes games and activities designed to enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, agility, and balance.

References

  1. Ames, C. (1992). Achievement goals, motivational climate, and motivational processes. In G.C. Roberts (Ed.), Motivation in sport and exercise (pp. 161-176). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  2. Blair, S. N., & Connelly, J. C. (1996). How much physical activity should we do? The case for moderate amounts and intensities of physical activity. RESEARCH QUARTERLY FOR EXERCISE AND SPORT, 67(2), 193-205. EJ 533 437
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1997). Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. MMWR, 46 (No. RR-6).
  4. Coakley, J.J. (1993). Social dimensions of intensive training and participation in youth sports. In B.R. Cahill & A.J. Pearl (Eds.), Intensive participation in children's sports (pp. 77-94). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  5. Faigenbaum, A., Kraemer,W., Cahill, B., Chandler, J., Dziados, J., Elfrink, L., Forman, E., Gaudiose, M., Micheli, L., Nitka, M., & Roberts, S. (1996). Youth resistance training: Position statement paper and literature review. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 18(6), 62-75.
  6. Faigenbaum, A.,Westcott,W., Loud, R., & Long, C. (1999). The effects of different resistance training protocols on muscular strength and endurance development in children. Pediatrics. 104 (1), e5.
  7. National Institutes of Health. (1995). PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH: NIH CONSENSUS STATEMENT. Kensington, MD: NIH Consensus Program Information Center.
  8. Pangrazi, R. P., Corbin, C. B., & Welk, G. J. (1996). Physical activity for children and youth. JOPERD, 67(4), 38-43. EJ 528 648.
  9. Pate, R. R., Pratt, et al. (1995). Physical activity and public health: A recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. JAMA, 273(5), 402-407.
  10. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND HEALTH: A REPORT OF THE SURGEON GENERAL. (1996). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  11. Ramsay, J., Blimkie, C., Smith, K., Garner, S., MacDougall, J., & Sale, D. (1990). Strength training effects in prepubescent boys. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 22(5), 605-614.
  12. Weiss, M.R. (2003). Social influences on children's psychosocial development in youth sports. In R.M. Malina & M.A. Clark (Eds.), Youth sports - Perspectives for a new century (pp. 109-126). Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice.
  13. Weiss, M.R., & Ferrer Caja, E. (2002). Motivational orientations and sport behavior. In T.S. Horn (Ed.), Advances in sport psychology (2nd ed., pp. 101-183). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


2nd Place - TUnit


Myth Of Stunting Growth

First of all, the notion that lifting weights stunts growth needs to be dispelled. Numerous studies, doctors, and trainers have proven that lifting weights does not close the growth plates. Groups such as the American Academy for Pediatrics and the National Strength and Conditioning Association of America have made position stands that weight training can be quite beneficial to a child's health.

The forces in jumping, running, and other daily activities are far greater than any child will experience by lifting weights. However, they shouldn't lift maximal weights until they have been lifting weights for quite some time, which is why higher reps are prescribed in the sample programs presented.

Concerned parents should read these studies and talk to pediatricians about lifting weights and their effects on the growth plates. Not letting a child workout can in the long run hamper athletic progress.

Secondly, it is my belief that a child should first learn to efficiently move their own bodyweight so that they don't have to start with ridiculously low weights in the first place.

Thirdly, a child should learn how to perform all the major lifts from a strength coach or certified trainer so that injuries can be minimized. Gradual progressive overload is the key to a child's success and willingness to participate in a strength program.

Here are a few articles concerning strength training and stunting growth:


Obesity

Secondly, obesity in America is a big problem. As proven by this demographic and geographic analysis, the percentage of obese people in America has been on the rise in the past few years: [ online ]

This is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, watching too much TV, and playing video games too much. Getting children to workout maybe very difficult at first because they would be starting something completely new and would actually have to move around, not just sit on a couch the whole day and do nothing.

However, with proper motivation and presentation of the various benefits achieved from working out, children would want to look and feel better. Keep in mind that a workout program is very important to a child's success; however, a proper diet consisting of healthy amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats needs to be maintained.


Workout:
What is the best workout for children? Be specific.

When a child is new to training, they should be introduced to basic bodyweight movements that will get them into decent physical shape and with a proper diet, help build muscle. Unilateral movements should be employed so that imbalances between legs do not occur.

Flexibility should be focused on as well so that it is not an issue once heavy weight training begins. Moving your own bodyweight usually produces less stress on the Central Nervous System (CNS).

The Central Nervous System.
The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.

Children should also have fun doing a workout program and you should try to motivate them as much as you can if they are lacking enthusiasm. At first, get them to be active in neighborhood games and then get them to participate in an organized sport that they like. Then they will probably be motivate enough on their own to start a workout program - one that the parents will be able to oversee.

General Warm-Up/Flexibility Routine (6-7 Days Per Week)

New To Training:

    To start out, I would simply include basic bodyweight movements that will help the child get stronger. This routine would be followed until the trainee feels comfortable with all the movements and can do at least 40 consecutive push-ups with perfect form, at least 8 strict chin-ups (Palms facing you), and at least 5 strict pullups (Palms away from you). Have the child rest 2-3 minutes in between sets.

    Monday:

    • Push-Ups - 3 Sets x AMRAP
    • Chin-Ups - 3 Sets x AMRAP
    • Bodyweight Squats - 3 Sets x 25 Reps
    • Bodyweight Split Squats - 3 Sets x 15 Reps/leg
    • 1-Leg Calf Raises - 3 Sets x 20 Reps
    • Crunches - 3 Sets x 20 Reps

    • Click Image To Enlarge.
      Split Squat (Shown With Barbell).


      Click Image To Enlarge.
      One-Legged Calf Raise (Shown On Dumbbell).

      print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Monday.

    Wednesday:

    Friday:

    *AMRAP = As many reps as possible, not failure, make sure your form doesn't break down, keep the movements controlled so that you can get the most of intermuscular and intramuscular adaptations.

    Note: If the child is unable to do Chin-Ups or Pull-Ups at first, give them assistance to perform approximately 8-10 reps. Over time, decrease the assistance until they can do 3-4 Chin-Ups on their own.

    At this point you can let them progress on their own until they can do about 8 Chin-Ups and 5 Pull-Ups on their own. With this program, the child may see some immediate strength and size gains as well especially since they've never trained before.

    The trainee would take 1 week off to recuperate from the previous program. Next in the beginner's training would be an intense 6 week bodyweight program in which some heavier and more effective bodyweight movements would be incorporated to prepare for the rigors of weight training.

6 Weeks:

EXERCISE DEMONSTRATION
Click Play To Start The Video.
Crunches
Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Abdominals
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: BodyOnly
Mechanics Type: Isolation

    A beginner child will not be able to do this program to start out with. Make sure that they follow the program before this and are able to meet the minimum requirements listed.

    Again, if a child needs assistance with Pistol Squats, Handstand Push-Ups, or Glute-Ham Raises, give them some help for a week or two and then let them perform the movements unassisted. Make sure that when the child squats, they go past parallel, as this will help them go deep when squatting with weights.

    When first starting to lift weights, the child should use dumbbells as much as possible in order to promote balance between left and right. This routine could be followed until gains stopped or started slowing down. High reps are emphasized for neurological gains and induce hypertrophy.

    As a beginner, a 10% increase in muscle mass will result in at least a 30% gain in strength. (Kelly Baggett, "The Simple Man's Guide to Speed Development") Also, children can do squats and variations of the deadlift on the same day due to the relatively small loads they are lifting which results in a small amount of CNS stress.

    Compound movements are emphasized so that maximum muscular gains can be achieved. Get the child to use free weights so that they do not use machines. In the long run, free weights help you gain more muscle mass and strength than machines. But the choice is up to the parent whether free weights or machines are going to be used so it is important to immerse yourself in knowledge before making such as decision. This page has many articles that should help you make such a decision.

Mass Gain Routine:

    You should follow this program until gains begin to diminish:

    Monday:

    Wednesday:

    Friday:

    The Reasoning: Beginners need compound movements to help put on as much mass as possible at first. That's why you don't see any curls, triceps extensions, shrugs, etc. A child could get pretty big following a routine such as the one above as long as a sound diet is followed with enough of a caloric surplus and as long as they have already reached puberty.

    Pre-pubescent children cannot really gain muscle from weight training. After this, a child would be strong and could start taking advantage of shock techniques such as supersets, drop sets, rest-pause training, explosive training, plyometrics, etc. Also, lower reps could be used to ensure more functional hypertrophy (hypertrophy of the sarcomere as opposed to hypertrophy of the sarcoplasm).

    Super Set Video Guide:
  • Windows Media Player (401 KB)
  • Real Player (547 KB)
  • Mpeg (1.2 MB)
  • Drop Set Video Guide:
  • Windows Media Player (376 KB)
  • Real Player (512 KB)
  • Mpeg (1.1 MB)
  • Rest-Pause Video Guide:
  • Windows Media Player (578 KB)
  • Real Player (808 KB)
  • Mpeg (1.75 MB)
  • But a child would have a great base to work from and they would have a lot of muscle mass from which to build strength on because a larger muscle has more size potential than a smaller one. They would be able to then start implementing isolation movements to bring out certain muscles such as the biceps, lateral deltoids, etc.

    A child that follows the progression of the three programs listed above would most certainly have an advantage over other kids who do not weight train. Your child would be stronger, faster, and more athletic than almost anyone they play against and this usually leads to more success in their sport.

    Eventually, the child would be seen by a high-school coach and possibly receive a high-school scholarship to a powerhouse team. In other words, simple strength training not only leads to athletic success, but can allow your child to pursue academic endeavors in a school that normally would be too expensive.


Motivation:
How can you motivate children to workout?

You can motivate children to workout in a plethora of ways. You can tell them that if they weight train, they will have a better physique, will run faster, jump higher, get stronger, and feel better about themselves in general.

The toughest children to motivate are those who are out of shape, follow bad diets, and/or don't participate in athletics. By signing up a child for a sport, you can get them to show discipline and ability to interact with others. Then, you can tell them to start training because it will only help them succeed in their sport and let's face it - who doesn't want to succeed?

You can tell them about the numerous health benefits:

  • Improved strength and coordination.
  • Increased muscle endurance.
  • Improved sports performance.
  • Increased bone density.
  • Improved health.
  • Improved bone strength/ bone density.
  • Reduced risk for injury.
  • Improved self-image and self-confidence.

(Source: National Strength and Conditioning Association)

When I was a kid, gym was a very important part of my daily school activities. I participated in field day events, presidential and national competitions, and various fitness tests that helped me to be in very good shape throughout my days in elementary and middle school.

Schools could even give rewards for athletic achievements which would motivate a lot of kids to try hard in gym and to be in good physical shape. In the long run, kids involved in athletics will stay out of trouble, won't do drugs or smoke, and generally will have more friends.

However, the number one motivator for children will always be a tangible reward or money. Get the child to set goals for themselves. At the end of the month, if they've reached their goals, get them something they really want. They've earned it and worked very hard.

If they don't reach the goal, give them another month and tell them that if they reach their goal by then, they will get a reward. This will motivate them so much that 9 times out of 10 the child will reach that goal. The psychological effects for a child will be tremendous.

RELATED ARTICLE
Elementary Youth Fitness Essentials! Elementary Youth Fitness Essentials!
Here is a three-pronged program to get elementary school children moving which includes stretching, non-competitive games for indoors or outdoors, and field day activities.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Children that are "big" or "buff" will naturally feel better about themselves and their appearance. Also, nobody wants to bully someone with an impressive physique.

Another fantastic motivator would be to show them how someone they look up to works out. If their hero is Michael Jordan, for example, you could tell them how much he worked out to get where he was. If a particular bodybuilder is their hero, take them to a show and let the child see what they really look like.

You could tell them that the only way to achieve such a physique is to lift weights and work out. If you yourself are the child's hero, if you don't work out already, think of working out with them to get an example. Be their mentor, their spotter, and most importantly, someone with answers to their questions about training.

However, don't tell you child that they are too skinny or too fat as a motivating tool. This will have many negative effects in the long run. Instead, tell them what foods to eat, pack their lunches to school, don't go to fast food places often, and feed them healthy foods.

RELATED POLL
How Often Does Your Family Eat Fast Food?

Never.
Once A Week.
Twice A Week.
Three Times A Week.
Four Times A Week.
Five Times A Week.
Six Times A Week.
Seven Times A Week Or More.

Don't let them overdo it on greasy foods, sugar, and candy. If you want to, have them take a multivitamin daily as well. This combination of healthy foods and a multivitamin will work wonders for the motivation of a child as eating healthy will make them feel better - they won't be as tired and fatigued all the time as they will have newfound energy coming from healthy foods.

Make it up to the kid to decide whether they want to succeed - don't push them so hard that they just quit altogether. Make sure they are really into the whole thing and that they, not you, are the ones who want to train.


Bonus:
Which age do you think is suitable for one to train with weights? Why?

I started weight training when I was 15 years old but I believe that it is suitable for one to begin training with weights once they learn to move their bodyweight efficiently and comfortably. For some, this may be 10 years old, others 14 years old.

Generally speaking, bodyweight training for a few months progressing into weight training could be prescribed for a child that already participates in a sport such as football, basketball, baseball, or is into bodybuilding. I wouldn't go younger than 8 years old however.

RELATED ARTICLE
Should Young Athletes Focus On One Or More Sports? Should Young Athletes Focus On One Or More Sports?
Young athletes benefit their skills in any sport by playing a multitude of sports. A young athlete does not need to be exposed to a single sport to get optimal stimulation and skill development for his/her age.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

"Many eight-year-old boys and girls have benefited from regular participation in a strength training program." (Dr. Avery Faigenbaum) Realistically speaking, most 6 and 7 year olds won't benefit that much from weight training and might be discouraged. In the long run, they might have a tough time coming back to weights when they are older because they never saw results in the first place.

So 8 years old is a good time to begin some bodyweight training. This would be followed for a few months or even a year or two until the child would be prepared for weight training. When the child turns 14 or 15 years old, you can get them to try the renowned 5x5 Program, Mark Rippetoe's Strength Program for Beginners, or my personal favorite for building muscle, Joe DeFranco's WSFSB.


3rd Place - Aussie LTD
What Is The Best Workout For Children?

With all the video games, television, computers etc. it's no surprise children are becoming overweight and inactive. It is important to educate younger children about the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease and cancer are some of the world's biggest killers. Resistance training is one of several lifestyle habits that protect children against these future health problems.

But before we engage in such activities, we need a clear understanding of them. Many different people fear resistance training. The main reason is because there are so many myths around surrounding how dangerous it can be. Children and especially their parents are one of these sub-groups.

Before I go on, I'd like to address a few common myths about children and weight training, and explain to the people the way it really is.


Myths

Myth #1:
If I do weight training at a young age, it will stunt my growth:

    This is probably the most common fear. Although this statement hasn't been scientifically proven wrong, my personal experience stands as a major objection to this theory. I was using light resistance training while I was developing during puberty at age 10-13, and am currently 6' 1" at 20, having reached my genetic potential for height (both my father and grandfather are 6 foot tall).

    From experience I believe a balanced routine during puberty, such as the one I used, shouldn't interfere with the natural growth process. I will prescribe this routine, as well as other routines targeted towards other age-groups later on in the article.

Myth #2:
Weight training is only for older people:

    Weight training can be done by anyone. Although it's commonly associated with males of varying ages, there is nothing that should stop any group of people from doing it; females, children, the elderly as well as those prone to injury.

    Weight training provides many benefits to different people outside sculpting a shapely body. With children, it will provide a good base of strength and muscle, which will form a foundation upon which they can further develop as they get older. It will set up healthy lifestyle patterns, increase sports performance and act as a preventative to further health problems such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Myth #3: If I use weights, I will end up looking like Ronnie Coleman:

    The reality is everyone responds to weight training differently. The reason behind this is the difference in quantity of hormones produced at different ages. The lower amount of testosterone produced by children, the main hormone responsible for muscle growth, will mean the kind of physique they will develop will largely differ to that of any bodybuilder, or older individual.

    On the other hand, there are those who believe they won't develop any muscle at all.

    Although some children will find it slightly more difficult to add muscle than others, if training intensity is high enough, then anyone can get results from training. Let's look at school as an example; it's not always the smartest people who succeed, but those who apply themselves. With weight training, it's not always those with the best genetic structures, but those who train hardest, and smartest.

    In fact, I was reading an article on this site by personal training Jamo Nezzar. They featured pictures of 2 children he had trained. The qualities of physiques on these 2 children were incredible. It only gave me hope that anyone can look like that, regardless of age.

    Kyle Kyle Kyle
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Kyle: Before, 9 Months & 12 Months.
    Read More About Jamo Nezzar Here.

In this article I will provide several routines that are guaranteed to provide benefits if they are applied properly, as well as touching on important aspects such as a child's motivation as well as the best age to begin training. Please read on...


Workout:
What is the best workout for children? Be specific.

Whenever I talk to a younger person at the gym, one of the first questions I ask them is "what type of routine are you on?" More often than not, people respond to me with a blank facial expression and say, "I don't really have one."

Having a weight-training routine is one of the most important things a child can do when starting. Although many may disregard its importance, training without one is like training with no purpose.

A good program should dictate your goals, and what you want from training. And because there are different people, different goals, and different age-groups, it's important to find a program that is designed specifically for you.

Following I will provide several different program for different age groups. Within these I will also give options for different levels of fitness such as beginners-advanced routines.

Beginner-Intermediate Routine:

    Age: 5-8
    Frequency: 2x weekly
    Time per session: 30-45 minutes
    Sets: 2 per exercise
    Reps: 10-15 per exercise

    NOTE: Repetitions refer to the amounts of times you perform each exercise, whereas a set is total number of repetitions.

    Routine Notes:

      It's important to start really slowly, especially at a young age. Anybody that trains needs time to adapt, so twice a week should be a good way to start until endurance is developed.

      The routine should be performed twice weekly, preferably spread out evenly to prevent fatigue. A good split is to perform the first workout on Monday, followed by the same workout Thursday, giving enough time between sessions for the muscles to recover.

      Overall, the routine hits all muscles using basic exercises that should build a good foundation of strength.

Advanced Routine Option One:

    Age: 5-8 Frequency: 3 times weekly Time per session: 35-45 minutes Sets: 2 per exercise Repetitions: 15 per exercise

    Routine Notes:

      Like the above routine, this routine is ideal for children who train at home.

      It should be performed after 3-4 months on a beginner routine. At this stage, kids have developed enough fitness and are able to move on. Everyone is different, so if you feel you need more time, that's OK.

      The workout adds in several new exercises, as well more difficult variations of existing exercises. These will also provide more variety, and stimulate the muscles in new ways.

      Frequency is now 3 days per week and reps are slightly higher at 15 per set. Overall sets remain at 2 per exercise though, which will avoid chances of over-training.

      After an extended period, and you feel the routine is getting too easy, you can up the sets per exercise to 3, or do start doing the workout 4 days per week. Alternatively, you can cycle through the exercises twice, which will encourage you to take fewer breaks and increase intensity.

Advanced Routine Option Two:

    Age: 5-8
    Frequency: 3 times weekly
    Time per session: 35-45 minutes
    Sets: 2 per exercise
    Repetitions: 12-15 per exercise

    Routine Notes:

      This routine is best suited for those children who have access to a gymnasium. If your gym has strict policies on age restrictions, don't worry; there are alternatives to all of these exercises (in brackets) that you can do at home.

      Although the routine encourages the use of gym equipment, it does so in a balanced and very safe way. A large proportion of the exercises prescribed still only require bodyweight as resistance, but do so using gym equipment, such as a hyperextension bench and the parallel bar for dips.

      Overall the routine is a very sound way to start out at the gym, and should teach children good form before tackling some of the more complex exercises and equipment.

Beginner To Intermediate Routine:

Advance Routine Option One:

    Age: 9-12
    Frequency: 3 days per week
    Time per session: 35-40 minutes

    Monday:

    Wednesday:

    Friday:

    Routine Notes:

      This program is designed for children training at home. The main difference between the beginner and advanced routine is the variety in exercise selection, as well using more free-weight. I recommend doing the beginner-intermediate before getting stuck into something more advanced. It will prepare you better, and prevent possible injury.

      By this time you might be thinking about adding some weight, but only do this when performing all of your reps with bodyweight becomes too easy. A pair of light dumbbells is a good way to start, using them for exercises such as lunges, step-ups and tricep dips.

      With exercises like push-ups, you might need someone to hold a light-weight plate on your back. You can hold the weight yourself for exercises such as crunches and superman.

      Cardiovascular training can now be done 3 times per week as well, for 30 minutes a session. It's a good idea to do your cardio on days you aren't performing weights, rather than performing them together. This will mean you will be devoting you're energy entirely too each workout without sacrificing either aspect of training.

Advance Routine Option Two:

What About Running?

    Running is probably the most important form of exercise because of its affect on heart health. I recommend children do cardio 2x per week to begin with for 20 minutes per session. This will maintain fitness, but isn't too much that you'll burn out.

    When you gain fitness, you can increase the amount to 3-4 days, 30 minutes per session, but anymore and you might find it hard to keep up with the weight training as well.

    There are many choices of cardio other than just running: There is cycling, which can be fun, as well as jumping rope, playing basketball or tennis, or using any of the equipment at your local gym.

    Try all of these out. You can keep changing to keep it all enjoyable.


Diet:
Absolutely Essential For Children.

A child's eating habits are just as important, if not more so than how they train. Food is the fuel, and without the fuel, it's likely they won't get much out of their training.

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One big barrier to food selection among children is finding foods that are healthy, but also taste good. Here are a few options for children that should satisfy those taste buds, as well as provide sustained nutrition that will keep them healthy.

  • Sandwiches: Wholemeal or rye bread with a selection of:
      Protein: turkey, chicken, meat, tuna.
      Salads: tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, green pepper, olive, pineapple
      Sauces: Fat free mayonnaise, mustard, tomato sauce, olive oil.
      Try to avoid: cheese, overly processed meats, fatty sauces, salt and white bread.
  • Fruit:
    • apples, pears, grapes, pineapple, peaches, banana etc.

  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Walnuts, cashews or other nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Cereals and muesli
  • Low-fat milk and yoghurt
  • Lean meats
  • Chicken and turkey breasts

Although a little bit of anything is Ok, too much is a bad thing. Its important kids get this message: you should still be able to eat these things that you enjoy, just not too much. For example:

  • Salt - take away, potatoes chips, sauces
  • Saturated fats - take away, pork chops, butter, cream, cakes
  • Candy
  • Chocolate
  • Soft-drinks

Other Tips For Eating Healthy:

Life Essence

  • Avoid High-GI foods: candy, soft-drinks, white bread, white rice etc.
  • Eat smaller meals, more frequently: This will maintain sugar levels, and provide enough energy to keep you focused at school, as well energetic for your workouts.
  • Take a multi-vitamin: I recommend Pure Life Essence Multi. It has absolutely everything in there, which means you get everything in the one tablet and save money!


Motivation:
How can you motivate children to workout?

One of the biggest hurdles in getting children to workout, or maintain healthy habits is getting them motivated. In the beginning, as parents, you can engage in these activities with them, but after a while with our busy lifestyles and time constraints, it's largely becomes a child's responsibility.

This is where problems can arise; and a child's motivation is really the only thing that can save them from deciding to give it all up, or keep going. So how do we fuel this desire? Read on where I can hopefully provide some helpful info.

Reward Children:

    This is one of the oldest forms of motivation in the book, but it's stuck around for so long simply because it works. When a child completes a successful workout, or eats a healthy meal, you can reward them with something they really want.

    An example would be their favorite chocolate bar after a day of eating healthy food, or more long-term rewards such as a computer game if they maintain their training routine for 1 month.

    This way, the gift fuels the child to complete what otherwise might not seem as enjoyable.

RELATED POLL
Does Promise Of A Reward Help You To Reach Goals?

Yes.
No.

Be A Positive Role-Model:

    Children subconsciously imitate what their parents do. If you are able to maintain healthy habits yourself; including training regularly, and always buying and preparing healthy foods, your children will likely follow the same path.

    If they see you enjoying what you're doing, this will work twice as well. Before you know it, your children will be copying what you're doing, and leading a healthy lifestyle themselves.

Use Positive Reinforcement:

    Children are like anyone else; they respond to positive feedback. Nothing can give you a better feeling than getting a nice compliment. When used regularly, it will help maintain a child's self-image, fueling them with the positivism they need to keep them enthusiastic about what they're doing.

    This feedback is best given at times they've achieved something. An encouraging comment such as "well done" or just a pat on the back can make the world of difference to a child's drive.

Set Goals:

    Setting goals sets up a foundation for success and motivation. Whenever someone achieves something, regardless of whether it's big or small, the boost in confidence is incredible. When you've seen that you've developed a muscle, or that you have lost 2lbs, you feel on top of the world.

    Set your children realistic goals so achievements are possible. You can start with a goal of working out twice a week, or reaching your rep range for each of your exercises.

    On top of these benefits to motivation, a child who sets goal will have more direction; this means they'll less likely fall off track, or loose interest.

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Be Positive:

    A child who has a positive mental outlook will be able to persist through the hard times, and better enjoy the good times. Too much negativity can drain a child's energy, and rob them of their enthusiasm and drive.

    Tips for being positive include surrounding yourself with others who are positive, learning to take control of negative thoughts or using affirmations. Affirmations are simply positive statements you can write down, and read to yourself. If you continue to force-feed yourself with positive statements, you'll get in the habit of seeing things that way yourself.


Bonus:
Which age do you think is suitable for one to train with weights? Why?

As you can tell by the workouts that I've prescribed in this article, as well as busting the myths at the beginning, I am a firm believer that there really are no restrictions in terms of when someone should start training with weights.

The only restriction is to do so sensibly. There is a clear distinction between being a smart trainer, or going into the gym mindlessly. Going to the gym unaware or unprepared is the only place where any damage can be done.

Training at age 12, or 9 or even 6 is OK. It becomes a matter of doing so sensibly. Training everyday wouldn't be the right approach, but training a balanced 2-4 days a week would.

Using massive weight for the sake of showing off to your friends can be dangerous, but lifting sensible weight using strict form isn't. Not knowing how to perform an exercise and doing it anyway can cause harm, but reading up on technique and applying it isn't.

It becomes a matter of knowing what you're doing and doing it safely. Having a solid base of knowledge on resistance training is irrefutable. Read books, read the internet. You can start here; this web site has thousands of great articles.

If you have a solid routine, like those I provided in this article, and you practice 100% strict exercise technique, you can train safely at almost any age. I don't recommend training with weights before 6 though, because I feel children that young should be doing other things. There's plenty time ahead of them to get into exercise.

I hope this article has somewhat given you a stronger base of knowledge on weight training for children, as well as shed some light on how to better employ motivation. Now its time to take one of these routines and start kickin some serious butt in the gym.

Thanks for reading!


3rd Place - ho_124

With all the video games, television, computers etc. It's no surprise children are becoming overweight and inactive. It is important to educate younger children about the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

The problem of child obesity, as some describe it, is becoming a problem of epidemic proportions. In America alone 13% of children are obese and the rates are climbing higher each year.

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Due to this very sad, but REAL problem, I have come up with an idea to promote healthy lifestyles in children. This will include fun activities and nutrition. Learn more...
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This is no surprise with all the junk food that children ingest and the sedentary or passive lifestyle many North Americans have chosen (watch large amounts of television, excessive video/computer game play or mindless hours spent sitting and fooling around on the computer).

Now for the above statistic you might be thinking 13% that's not too bad, but first of all there's a difference between obese and overweight. Overweight as most people use it means a person with any excess weight, however it really means 1-24% too much weight.

However obesity is at least 25% overweight and considering even more children are overweight than obese this statistic is alarming. In some countries they have recorded that 30% of their children are obese, I mean 30%!!! Many of these overweight children will go on to live their unhealthy lifestyle which can be seen with 60% of American adults being overweight.

There are many risks and problems associated with children being obese or overweight, which is why so many organizations including the government are trying so hard and spending so much money to stop the epidemic. Seeing all these risks and problems and how this issue is becoming worse each year, it's clear that we have to get kids into an active lifestyle. No child should be limited to sitting all day because of their obesity, because childhood is the best carefree days of a person's life.


Workout:
What is the best workout for children? Be specific.

Before I get to the workout it is very important to cover some important topics first such as what kind of workout a child should be doing, how intense they should be going etc.

My Opinion On Children & Weights:

    The topic of children and weights is quite hazy, there really is no definite answer, but I feel that it is very important to address this topic. I truly believe children should not be doing weights, by weights I mean going into the gym and actually doing bench press, barbell squats, and curls.

    Seriously, how many of you have actually seen a 7 year old go into the gym and actually workout? It just isn't right for a 7-year-old to be doing that. There is only one situation where I might remotely consider lifting weights for children maybe alright which is if the child wants to and they start off very, very slowly.

    But then again how many children would want to do that anyway? For Christ sake you can barely get children to run a lap around a track, how the hell could you get them to sit there for 45 minutes lifting weights? Children should be doing sports, playing outside, and at most doing Push-ups and Sit-ups.

    They shouldn't be cooped up in a gym for an hour; that's like taking their childhood away, never mind the negative psychological effects it might have. Plus what benefits are you trying to give your child by working out with weights? Don't tell me you want your child to be a bodybuilder or powerlifter at age 7.

    Sports and light things like push-ups and maybe even assisted chin-ups give your child a way better base because it builds endurance, strength, balance, agility, speed and most important of all it builds focus because your child has FUN. With weights your child is lifting for what?

    Just a little strengthening of the bones and muscles, all for the cost of your child becoming isolated and bored in the gym rather than having fun and playing sports with friends.

    Even if your child did start weight training you would have to start with super low weight and they will hardly get any benefits from it. Making the poundage's heavy and intense for the child will likely end up to be disastrous.

    First of all children's bodies aren't built and meant to be torn up by weights.

    Second it would put too much stress on ligaments and joints especially since they are still developing and could result in problems later in life.

    Third injuries would occur more often and be more profound because again children's bodies aren't built to take the stress of weights and their bones and joints would be more susceptible to injury.

    Last if you just get your child to lift weights it won't build a good base for him or her. Your child will just grow into a lumbering strongman, rather than a kid with good balance, endurance and the whole package. A kid with a good base will be able to pick up sports and excel in them, they won't just be limited to football or brute force sports because all they are is strong.


Workout:
What kind of workout should children do then?

If children shouldn't be doing weights at a very young age then what should they be doing? Well they should be mostly doing a variety of sports which will help build endurance, strength, stability/balance, agility, speed and in general give your child a good base which is most important right now.

However, a workout for a child should consist of light things such as push-ups, assisted chin-ups, sit-ups and even exercises with resistance bands would be great. These things would give the kid benefits such as strength, stability, and even some endurance which the kid could use to do better in sports or just stay active.

Remember since the children are using their own bodyweight for most the exercises it won't put extreme amounts of stress on the body unlike weights. This means that they can actually workout until they are quite tired.

Depending on how old the child is, they should go at different intensities, so a 6 year old probably shouldn't go until they are dead tired because that would be too much stress for their body, but it might be ok for a 10 or 12 year old.

How Many Times A Week Should They Workout?

    Children should workout different amounts depending on what age they are. Basically there are different age groups and in each group they should workout a different amount of times a week.

    The age groups are as follows: 6 to 7, 8 to 10, and 11 to 13 or 14. However when it comes to sports, I would encourage them to do as much as possible and keep up an active lifestyle. So play soccer, basketball, hockey or whatever you like as many times as you want, just make sure not to do way too much.

    Remember just doing workouts won't do much for your child, doing these workouts along with a few sports or even one sport is because your child will get so many more benefits that resistance training just can't do.

    Ages 6-7:

      Kids at this age are still growing and their bodies can't take that much stress which is why you shouldn't be getting your kid to do a workout too many times a week. When starting your kid on a workout plan you should start off at twice a week.

      This will give them the benefits of working out and at the same time make sure they don't get too overworked. Working out twice a week is great since recovery time will be slower; kids at age 6-7 are rapidly growing which inhibits recovery. Also if you start them at three times a week they might get bored of it.

      Remember six year olds don't have a good concentration span so twice a week works great. Gradually when your kid is ready move it up to three times a week only if they can take it.

    Ages 8-10:

      By this age kids can respond to more stress since their bodies are much stronger and will be able to recover faster from workouts since they aren't growing as fast. Because of this they should be doing about three workouts a week, however when just starting off I would recommend only twice a week if they are actively involved in sports.

      Gradually move up to three times a week which is a good number of times a week since any more would probably be too much since this is the time where children play more sports and they usually get more tired from them because the demands are greater from coaches.

      If your child is 9 or 10 years old then it might be ok for them to do it four times a week if they are strong enough to take it. Also if their sports aren't as physically demanding then it would also be ok to workout four times a week, but for most people 3 times a week is great.

    Ages 11-13/14:

      By now children of this age are a lot stronger because puberty and testosterone levels are flaring. Because of this they can take a lot more stress for several times a week and still be able to recover. This is also an age where sports become a lot more competitive and the training for the sports gets much tougher.

      And because sports become tougher, a workout would enhance someone's performance in that sport. Kids at this age should workout about 3-4 times max a week since they are probably also doing sports that are more physically demanding.

      The key thing for all these ages is to do the following workout along with another sport. Just doing this workout alone won't give nearly as much benefits if it were done along with sports. Doing sports builds a much better base than just workouts alone.

How Long & Intense Should They Workout?

    Again workout length and intensity differs from age to age. Obviously a six year old shouldn't be maxing out on every set, and a thirteen year old shouldn't be doing his push-ups with a half ass effort. It is important to get the correct workout lengths and intensities to make sure that the child doesn't overwork himself and gets good benefits from the workout.

    Ages 6-7:

      Like I mentioned above children at this age can't take a lot of stress, I mean seriously some of them get dead tired running two laps around a track. That's why they shouldn't go super intense on every exercise. Basically at the end of a workout they should be quite tired but not extremely.

      So on a scale from one to ten they should be about at a 5-7 after they are done with the workout. As far as workout length goes it should be quite short. First of all, seriously, have any of you ever tried to get a 6 year old to stay on task for 10 minutes?

      It's tough, so that's why workout length should be about 10 - 15 minutes. If your child is stronger then it might be alright to go to 20 minutes. Also their bodies aren't going to be able to recover as fast and they can't take too much of a beating, that's why this is a good workout time.

    Ages 8-10:

      Workout times can be a little longer and more intense because 8-10 year old bodies are stronger and can take more of a beating. So it would be acceptable for an 8-10 year old to get pretty tired. On a scale of one to ten they would be about 6 - 7.5. Workout times should range from 10 minutes to 30 minutes max depending on how fit your child is and how much he or she can take.

      If your child is weak or unfit then start him/her off at 10-15 minutes. But if your child has done a lot of sports and is quite fit then start him/her off at 25 minutes and see how they do. Remember it's all about how much your child can take, don't push them over the limit because their body won't be able to take it.

    Ages 11-13/14:

      Workouts now can be quite intense and longer because puberty is starting to kick in and their bodies can take quite a hefty beating and still recover quite fast. Workouts can now be done so they are pretty much done after. Remember it also depends on how fit the child is.

      If the child is overweight or quite unfit then they should be starting off more slowly. Then they can gradually build it up so that their workouts get them pretty tired. But if the kid is very fit and pretty strong then they can be going till they are very tired.

      On a scale of one to ten they should feel about 7-9.5. Workout lengths can also be longer, so a good time would be about 20 minutes - 35 or maybe even 40 if your kid is really fit and is 13-14 years old.

      Remember the key to remember here is that intensity and workout time will vary depending on how fit and strong your kid is. So if your child is unfit and overweight don't start him or her off too hard because that will just lead them into burnout. If your kid is strong and fit then they can go longer and more intense.

      You want to gradually build up your child's intensity to a comfortable level so he doesn't burnout but also gets good benefits from the workout. And since children's bodies are weaker, you have to be careful when setting or increasing intensity and workout length.

Keep Good Form:

    This is mostly for the younger ages with less coordination and stability. I mean how many times have you seen children doing an exercise totally wrong. For example jumping jacks, I once saw children doing these and it looked horrible with arms flapping everywhere and legs all sloppy.

    If your child works out you have to make sure they get the form down or else it could result in injury or he or she just won't get the benefits from it. For example Push-ups, if your child sags his back and looks like he's humping the ground, then you should correct it because first of all it might screw up is back, and second it doesn't give the triceps, shoulders, and chest a good workout.

    Also form is key because if you don't teach your child good form now then later he will have super sloppy form in all his exercises and it will be impossible to correct because it's been a habit for so long.

Cardio Sessions:

    Cardio sessions are essential, even more so than the workouts. By cardio I don't mean running and monotonous things like that. I mean seriously, good luck with trying to get a 7 year old to run for even 10 minutes. Sports for kids are way more fun to play and therefore they will do it more often.

    Different sports build on different things such as agility, speed, balance, endurance, and strength. That's why it's good to have a variety of sports so they get different benefits from each one. Never make your kid run or do monotonous things like that, or else they will just burnout and stop because it's way to boring for them since they are so hyper.

    Kids should be doing as many cardio sessions as possible to build a really good base and keep up an active lifestyle. Basically you should do your cardio sessions at least 3 times a week or maybe even 2 if your kid is super unfit or obese. Gradually however you should build this up.

Resistance Bands:

    A lot of people don't know this but resistance bands are awesome for a kid's workout. They build on stability since the stabilizer muscles have to kick in and also strength without bashing the kids too badly which weights will do.

    Your kids can still get a good workout and get tired from resistance bands and the good thing is that the resistance can be adjusted as your kid gets more fit.

Plyometric Leg Workout:

    This is only for ages 12-14 years old since this is an amazing alternative to weights for the legs which you should highly consider. I came across this workout because I played badminton and it's an amazing workout if you don't want to do weights for legs or if you're just not ready.

    Plyometrics basically works on the explosive power of any body part and in this case the legs. The plyometric leg workout works on balance, power, strength, and speed which is great to get you introduced into weights.

    Here is one similar to what I did but toned down a bit. The basic thing is that you do a bunch of leg exercises in a row and once your done you get about a 1-2 minute rest and do it again for about 3-4 sets.

    You can make this easy or you can make it hard. For example on the jump lunges if you just do a hop then a lunge you won't get anything out of it. But if you jump as high as you can then lunge you will get the max benefit. You should also be going quite intense so you're literally done after the workout.

    Also you should try to stick as many reps into the 30-45 seconds while keeping good form so you should be going quite fast. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to tone down the intensity, reps and time if you're not ready for the full program. So if you're unfit then this program will kill you, but if you're really fit this program will be great for you.

    Sample Plyometric Leg Workout:

    • Jump or scissor lunges 30-45 seconds
    • Jump squats 30-45 seconds
    • Fast feet 30-45 seconds
    • Crossovers 30-45 seconds
    • Knee highs 30-45 seconds (Get your knees as high as possible)
    • Tuck jumps 30-45 seconds
    • Over the box jumps 30-45 seconds

    • *Optional depending on fitness*
        One legged over the box jumps 30 seconds
        Rest 1-3 minutes and repeat x3-4 sets

      print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Sample Plyometric Leg Workout.

Keep It Simple:

    Keeping it simple is the best way to ensure your child follows the program and gets the best results. They don't need a complicated program because they are only kids, just a simple one should do. Also by keeping the workout simple (I mean not using techniques like rest pause training and drop sets). I mean seriously, I've heard some people say kids should be doing this and that's just dumb.

    These heavily tax the recovery systems and kids should never be doing them especially since they have slower recovery. Also their bodies aren't built for that kind of stress yet. It's just a death wish waiting to happen if you incorporate those into your child's workout plan.

    Don't get them to do drop sets or partials or anything like that, just get them to do the reps and sets in a regular way. Then when they're older then can do them.


The Workouts

Age 6-7 Beginner Program:

  • This should be done at first 2 times a week and gradually built up to 3 times a week.
  • As your child gets fitter, build up the intensity and workout length but not too much because again children aged 6-7 aren't very strong and fit.
  • Make sure to assist your child if he's too weak or to help in on form.
  • I like to stress that this is best done with sports, just this workout alone won't do much.

  • Resistance band curls 1 x 15-20 reps
      This better than chin-ups; tell me how many 6 year old kids do you see who can perform even 1 chin-up? Probably not many at all.
      Make sure there isn't too much resistance and that they have good form
  • Seated rows with resistance bands 2 x 15-20 reps
      Again like curls make the resistance light so that they get tired but not super tired
      Make sure they have good form
  • Push-ups 2x 10-20 reps
      They should do 10 - 20 reps depending on how much they can do
      The rep range should vary on how much they can do
  • Superman 1x 10-20 reps
  • Sit-ups 1 x 10-20 reps
  • Weightless squats (Assisted if needed) 2x 10-20
      You will probably have to help your kid on this one and maybe even lower the rep range because squats will be hard on them. But if your kid can do them on his own that's great.
  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Age 6-7 Beginner Program.

Age 6-7 Intermediate & Advanced Program:

  • This program is similar to the beginners one except there are a few more exercises and more sets.
  • Since the kid is more advanced this should be done 3 times a week. But if you're just starting it out you should probably do it twice a week.

  • Resistance band curls 2x 15-20 reps

  • Resistance band seated rows 2x 15-20 reps

  • Push-ups 2 x 15-20 reps

      Because your kid will be more fit, you might want to up the rep range if he's ready. I've seen some 7 year olds do 30 Push-ups.

  • Superman 1 x 10-20 reps

  • Sit-ups 2x 10-20 reps

  • Squats 2x 10-20 reps

  • Lunges 2x 10-20 reps

      You must help your kid on this one because you need a lot of balance for this one and I've seen full grown adults struggle on this one without weights. Also be very careful so that he doesn't let his knee go over his toe and that he gets the right form.

  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Age 6-7 Intermediate & Advanced Program.

Age 8-10 Beginner Workout:

  • This workout should be done 3 times a week along with sports for maximal benefits.

  • Chin-ups (You might have to assist) 2 sets x at least 6

      You probably will have to assist your child with these because some 8 year olds can't do 6 chin-ups. H*ll some 16 year olds can't even do it because they are really unfit.

  • Push-ups 2 sets x As many as possible

  • Sit-ups 1-2x 15-20

  • Leg raises 1-2 x 10-20

  • Superman 1x 15-20 reps

  • Weightless squats 2x 15-20 reps

      On this one really watch the form

  • Lunges 2x As many as possible

      Again you have to watch the form

  • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Age 8-10 Beginner Workout.

Age 8-10 Intermediate & Advanced Program

  • This program should be done about 3 times a week with sports for the best results. If your child is really fit then he/she might be able to do it 4 times a week.

Ages 11-13/14:

    At this age it's ok to start introducing some weights into the program but very slowly and gradually since their bodies can probably take the stress. They should mostly be doing lots of sports and doing things with their own bodyweight and resistance bands to build up a good base.

    However if you're a beginner I wouldn't recommend you do weights because it takes time to build up the stabilizer muscles and strength to take the beating.

    Beginner Program:

    Intermediate & Advanced Program:

      If you're truly advanced and are ready for this program then it's time to divide the workout into upper and lower body. Also the intensity should be brought up since your child should be very fit and quite strong. One other thing to take into consideration is that there are more weights involved so make sure your child is truly ready for this.

      If you're starting off you might want to do this only twice a week, but gradually work up to 4 times a week when they get really fit and strong.

      Upper Body:

      Lower Body:

      * One very important note for all of these workouts is that if you're not being challenged enough in any of them then you have to up the intensity or change up the exercises ore add more reps or sets. Alter the programs to suit your needs according to how fit you are.

One Last Note Is Diet:

    Diet is probably the most important thing if you're trying to get your kid to drop the pounds or if you're trying to get your kid to have a healthy lifestyle. I'm not really going to go into detail because this isn't a question, but basically you have to make sure your child eats a variety of non fatty and foods without sugar.

    Get them to eat lots of veggies and fruits as well as lean meats with protein. Diet not only gives them benefits but keeps them away from health related problems later on. If your kid is overweight diet can never be underestimated. If your kid keeps eating junk although he or she workouts then they will never drop the pounds.

    Make sure they stay away from fatty and sugary foods at all costs. Also make sure they get under their calorie level to promote fat loss. If you need more information on this topic then you must research more. If I were to tell you all you needed about children's diet the article would be way too huge.


Motivation:
How can you motivate children to workout?

1. Take Away The Games Or Don't Allow Them To Watch Television.

    If you take away a game or disallow them to watch television unless they become active it will be a great incentive for them to being working out and playing sports. Gradually as they become more active let them watch more T.V and let them play their video or computer games.

    Sitting all day is one reason for childhood obesity and by taking away the source of the problem will gradually help your child to get active and healthy.

2. Workout With Them Or Get Them Someone To Workout With.

    Nothing sucks more for a kid than to be working out alone by themselves. That's why it's best if you workout with your child to encourage them in the exercises.

    Also having a friend to workout with them is great because they can talk while they workout which makes it less boring and less of a chore but rather more fun. Its way better to workout with someone most of the time than alone.

3. Prizes And Goals.

    Give awards for their hard work such as a cheat meal or extra time to play a video game or extra time to watch television. Kids dig prizes and that's final. I mean when I coached badminton, I gave the kids stickers as prizes and they worked as hard as ever. I mean even STICKERS will do the job!

    However you don't want to give your kid too many prizes or he might get bent on only working out or playing sports for prizes and if you stop awarding then he stops doing it which is bad. Also you can set goals and give them a bigger prize in the end if they reach it. So you might make a deal with your child if they drop 10 or 20 pounds by a certain date then you will buy them a bike they always wanted.

4. Give Them Inspiration.

    Inspiration is sometimes the best way to work hard at a goal. Some of us get inspired by movies and amazing stores and the same thing happens to kids but to an even greater extent. I mean look at Rocky and Batman, how many kids say I want to be like that!

    You can use this positive energy to say "Hey, if you want to be strong like Superman then you should start doing sports and working out." If that doesn't work show them pictures of what they could look like or tell them stories of how someone overcame an almost impossible obstacle.

5. Be Healthy And Active Yourself And Encourage.

    Don't tell your child to go get active and healthy if you yourself are fat and lazy. Children at a young age follow their parents' habits very closely and their mind is shaped around the parent's lifestyle in the early years. That's why children who have parents who smoke are more likely to smoke, go figure.

    Be active yourself and eat healthy. Go running regularly and encourage your son or daughter to come with you for a little while and compliment them if they worked hard on the run. Also go to the gym and invite your son to come and workout.


Bonus:
Which age do you think is suitable for one to train with weights? Why?

The age I truly think that children should start working out is when they hit puberty which happens at about age 12-14. This is when testosterone levels soar and a whole variety of things happen. With testosterone gains will be much more significant and recovery will be much better.

The body will also be able to tolerate the stress of weights and deal with it better. Also if you workout before puberty the recovery time will be longer and your gains won't be as significant. Also at the younger ages kids should be playing sports to get a good base.

Like I said above I can't name one kid who likes to be cooped up in a gym for an hour. Also at about age 12-14 that's when sports become demanding and require strength training to meet the physical needs of that sport such as football. If you already have a good base in speed, agility, stability and the whole package, all you really have to work on is the resistance training aspect.

However if all you've been doing is working out since you were 7, your limiting yourself. I mean all you have is strength and maybe more size. If you were to pick up a sport you would have to work much harder at it because you don't have the other aspects such as endurance and stability.

However there are varying opinions and this topic is hazy. Everyone has their own opinions and views on when kids should start training, but I have one last thing to say. Do you really want your child's memories just to be working out cooped up in a smelly gym all by themselves, or do you want your child's memories playing sports with all his or her friends all carefree and laughing?


Review Of Other Articles
Or "Why Wasn't Mine Picked?"


no_strain_no_ga

Pro's

  • Logical and sound information

Con's

  • Incomplete submission. Style exhibits unusual conversational flow.
  • Comments: The writer ends the submission with a promise to "be back with more." A promise not kept, leaving a submission to brief to be an article. A more conversational cadence may be beneficial.


rayray3

Pro's

  • This writer has a definite message and conveys it clearly.

Con's

  • Some room for improvement in sentence structure. Submission is a bit brief for an article.
  • Comments: Run on sentences need to be cleaned up. Some generalizations are made that do not apply to all children and all parents. This writer shows a good conversational style and interest in the work. Reading the submission out loud and more proof reading may be of benefit.


KING_OF_SQUAT

Pro's

  • Writer shows knowledge of the territory, draws on first hand experience.

Con's

  • Some run on sentences and awkward structure.
  • Comments: This submission was also a bit brief for an article length feature. With more time spent proof reading and adjusting content flow, this could have been a great article.


RippedJordanian

Pro's

  • Good conversational style. Logically acceptable content.

Con's

  • Run on sentences.
  • Comments: This writer would probably benefit from breaking up long sentences into shorter ones. Often a period should be used instead of a comma.


Squats

Pro's

  • Writer shows good grasp of the subject matter. Good flowing cadence.

Con's

  • First paragraph should be several small paragraphs.
  • Comments: This submission was predominantly a rambling opening paragraph with insufficient body and closing. Better structure and more content are needed. A possible model would be: Opening paragraph is a brief and concise position statement. The body of the work supports this position with logic, experience and references. The closing of the work re-enforces the opening.


Dallas68

Pro's

  • Very detailed workout section. Pleasant conversational style.

Con's

  • Run on sentences. Other than workout section, content was brief.
  • Comments: Sentences like the first sentence of the third paragraph need to be broken up. Short concise sentences are more enjoyable for the reader. The content supporting the excellent workout section was too brief for an article. This writer's use of local colloquialism is very interesting.


JustinTroduced

Pro's

  • This writer had a definite message.

Con's

  • Jumbled paragraphs and awkward flow.
  • Comments: Paragraph structure could have been cleaner. This author may want to write as if telling a story to an old friend. There could have been more detail in the workout section.


What Is The Best Workout For Children?

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