What is the Best Age to Begin Weightlifting?

Ask ten different weightlifting coaches this question, and you’ll get ten different answers.  Many coaches will not quote a specific age, but rather state that a child must be mature enough to focus, follow directions and handle the disappointment of a failed lift.

Weightlifting coaches are generally in favor of a younger start since kids lose mobility as they age.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until age 8 to begin strength training.1

The best age for your child depends on a number of factors, including your coach’s preference and your child’s maturity level.  The following questions may be helpful in determining whether your child is ready for weightlifting:​

  • Is your child interested in weightlifting?
  • Does your child have time to devote to weightlifting?
  • Is your child willing to listen and take instructions from his coach?
  • Does your child have the attention span required for the scheduled weightlifting practices?​
  • Is your child comfortable in a sport where the focus is on individual effort?

And, if you decide that your child is not yet ready for the demands of weightlifting, you might consider a foundational sport, such as gymnastics, until your child is older.

Finally, if your child does participate, below are a few helpful guidelines to follow:2

  • Provide qualified instruction and supervision
  • Ensure the exercise environment is safe and free of hazards
  • Start each training session with a 5 to 10 minute dynamic warm-up period
  • Begin with relatively light loads and always focus on the correct exercise technique
  • Perform 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions on a variety of upper and lower body strength exercises
  • Include specific exercises that strengthen the abdominal and lower back region
  • Focus on symmetrical muscular development and appropriate muscle balance around joints
  • Perform 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 6 repetitions on a variety of upper and lower body power exercises
  • Sensibly progress the training program depending on needs, goals and abilities
  • Increase the resistance gradually (5% to 10%) as strength improves
  • Cool-down with less intense calisthenics and static stretching
  • Listen to individual needs and concerns throughout each session
  • Begin resistance training two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days
  • Use individualized workout logs to monitor progress
  • Keep the program fresh and challenging by systematically varying the training program
  • Optimize performance and recovery with healthy nutrition, proper hydration and adequate sleep
  • Support and encouragement from instructors and parents will help to maintain interest

 

_________________________________________________________________________

References:

(1) Metzel, Jordan D., MD. “Are Weights Safe for Kids? New Resource from the AAP Helps Answer Parents’ Questions About Injury Prevention and Strength Training at Home.”

(2) Feigenbaum, Avery . “Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper.” National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, January 9, 2009, 4.

By | 2017-06-14T08:39:56+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Parent Resources|

About the Author:

Susan Friend is a weightlifter, coach, and weightlifting enthusiast. Susan has participated in both the U.S. and German weightlifting systems, along with her son, Hutch, who holds four U.S. Youth National Championship titles and one German Youth National Championship title.

Leave A Comment