If you have a child of 6 to 8 years old that wants
to start exercising and lifting weights, you may
find yourself wondering what you should do. While
some think it is perfectly fine for children to
exercise, there are others that think differently.
The long and short of it is that yes, it is
beneficial for your child to partake in exercise
or a weight training regimen although there are a
few things that you should keep in mind once this
starts to happen.
No matter how you look at it, children aren’t
minature adults and therefore you can’t use the
same methods with growing children that you can use
with adults, as children are different from adults
emotionally, anatomically, and physiologically.
All children have immature skeletons, as their
bones don’t mature until they get 14 – 22 years of
age. With girls, exercise during childhood can
have very critical effects on bone health that
can last for their entire lives.
Children are often times vulnerable to growth
related overuse injuries such as Osgood schlatter
disease. Children have immature temperature
regulation systems due to their having a large
surface area compared to their muscle mass which
will cause them to be more susceptible to injury
when they aren’t properly warmed up.
Children don’t sweat as much as adults do, so
they will be more susceptible to heat exhaustion
as well as a heat stroke. Due to their low muscle
mass and immature hormone system, it makes it
harder for them to develop strength and speed.
Their breathing and heart response during
exercise are also different from an adults, which
will affect their capacity for exercise.
On the other hand, young boys and girls can
drastically improve their strength with weight
training although opposed to adults, neurological
factors instead of muscle growth factors are mostly
When you consider programs for children, first and
foremost you should obtain a medical clearance.
The first approach to designing a program is to
establish a repetition range of 8 – 12 and keep
the work load appropriate for the range.
You should ensure that workouts are spread out
enough to have at least 1 – 2 full days of rest
between workouts. The main focus when working out
should be on the form of every exercise performed,
and not on the amount of weight being lifted.
Before weight training, warm up and stretching
should be done. Start your children off with light
loads and then make adjustments accordingly. No
more than 3 non consecutive exercise sessions
should be done in a week. You should also see to
it that they drink plenty of water before, during,
and after exercise. Getting enough water is very
important with exercise, as it is often times very
easy to get dehydrated – especially with children.