"If children or adolescents undertake a strength training program, they should begin with low-resistance exercises until proper technique is learned. When 8 to 15 repetitions can be performed, it is reasonable to add weight in small increments. Exercises should include all muscle groups and be performed through the full range of motion at each joint. To achieve gains in strength, workouts need to be at least 20 to 30 minutes long, take place a minimum of 2 to 3 times per week, and continue to add weight or repetitions as strength improves. There is no additional benefit to strength training more than 4 times per week."
- Strength Training by Children and Adolescents, American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, 2001
For years we've been told that children should avoid lifting weights at a young age because of potential damage to joints or growth plates. While this type of injury is extremely rare, it's a good idea to hold off on serious weight training until high school. Pre adolescent children should be encouraged to perfom body weight exercises such as push-ups and crunches, along with calisthenics and light dumbell work.
Once they've reached high school, teens can begin a supervised, progressive weight training program if they desire to do so.
If you think it's dangerous for your children to work their muscles, consider the consequences of spending their entire childhood in front of a televison or computer monitor.
(c) Dave Elger 2007 All rights reserved.