"The Today Show" was on at the gym yesterday morning, and I caught a glimpse of a promo for a segment about a 13-year old boy who was more ripped than almost every grown man currently working out at the gym. Unfortunately, duty called and I missed the segment. But it stuck with me, and I hit the Internet in search of the story.
While I applaud the kid for his physique, I don't necessarily support what he's doing. Not at his age. I agree with the professionals in the interview, specifically when they say that weight training is safe but bodybuilding is different—clearly the kid above is doing some serious bodybuilding. But weight training, lifting lighter weights with higher repetitions, is actually quite good for growing children when done correctly and with expert supervision. Strength training creates better muscle function, which helps kiddos avoid unnecessary injuries in their sports and during their playtime. It supports the growth of healthy, strong bones. And it keeps the ticker pumping more so than any intense video game ever could.
If your kid wants to hit the gym, find a youth program that will teach them how to do so correctly. At my gym, we give interested children orientations during which we go over every last detail regarding gym safety, equipment use, etc. And we point out machines that are just too much for them. Because really, all the machines in most gyms, unless otherwise noted, are built for an adult body.
If you don't belong to a gym, buy your kid their very own set of hand weights. But make them a reasonable weight, probably nothing above ten pounds to start. Show them what to do, and then make sure they do it correctly.
And most importantly, teach them why strength training is important. As stated in the segment, make it about health and happiness, not ripped muscles and hot physiques. Kids go through enough already when it comes to body image, strength training need not add to it.
Everything in moderation, right? Strength training, not bodybuilding.
Question: If you have kids, how do you keep them fit and active? Do they express an interest in strength training? How old are they?
REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win two boxes of EcoTrek Fitness Whole Food Bars! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, July 21, 2011).