A Weight Training Workout for Kids

With an eye for safety, kids and teens can safely practice weight training

teenage boy lifting weights
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In years past, the atmosphere and activities of the old-style "iron" gyms was never seen as very suitable for children and adolescents. Heavy equipment clanging about, the specter of steroid use, and large and often noisy men seemed a long way from the junior baseball diamond or basketball court.

How things have changed. Weight training as a physical activity has undergone a revolution with new, well-equipped and comfortable gyms populated by the full spectrum of the adult training community and, for the most part, well-qualified training staff.

Pediatricians and fitness trainers specializing in children and adolescents now see how safe and beneficial it is to introduce young people to supervised, progressive weight training. In fact, in a recent review of injuries in physical education classes, nearly 70 percent of the injuries occurred during six activities: running, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer and gymnastics.

Professional Views on Weight Training for Children

The following articles provide background to the current professional view of weight training for children and adolescents.

Preparing for an Workout Program for Adolescents

Before a young teen starts a formal weight training program, an evaluation by a pediatrician or sports medicine doctor is recommended.  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 is essential with 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 workout, 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.

A Sample Adolescent Weight 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.

All exercises are 2 sets and 10 repetitions

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 improve performance during exercise overall. This same advice applies to participating in sporting events.

A good warmup is aerobics, 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 to the proper form of each exercise that is critical to safety and effectiveness.

  1. Barbell squats - 2 sets, 10 repetitions
  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

Cool down: A good cool down with light stretching, 5 to 10 minutes, is also important to development of fitness.

See exercise instruction details in the Exercise Gallery.

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