View Full Version : Age Grouper Weight Program?

November 26th, 2008, 07:48 AM
I have asked you for advice in the past on my 13 yo age group swimming son and the feedback has been great. So, here goes again. He has lifted weights in school this semester with great results. He wants to continue after the class ends next month at our health club. I have to admit the results have been dramatic in the pool as well as his appearance. I would like to see him continue but need suggestions as to his program in terms of frequency, specific lifts etc. Any suggestions or links would be appreciated.

November 26th, 2008, 09:47 AM
First off, I think this decision depends heavily on your philosophy, short/long term goals and what events your child is training for. My background/biases: Divison I distance swimmer, current Master's swimmer and swimming parent (all girls, all 12 & under now). I am not a coach.

Maybe I'm too conservative on this, but I tend to look at swimming progression for age groupers as a long term endeavor, ideally culminating with fast swims in college while still leaving the individual with a love for the sport. I think that progression is best served by slowly added in "extra components" to the training regimen (e.g., double workouts, weights, etc.) so that you don't overload a young body too early and so that you definitely don't burn a kid out. Particularly for boys, who can and should easily continue to get stronger and faster through college, I would think it would be better to add weight training in later in their high school career. With that said, I think there are body-weight based training tools you can add in at this stage that focus more on core and whole body balance like Pilates and Yoga.

I swam with a lot of guys who were great at 13,14,15, but then didn't progress from there ... very often, IMHO, because they pushed too hard too soon. Conversely, I swam with guys at the elite collegiate and international level who came to Texas with relatively modest prior training backgrounds and then took off in college as they both matured more physically and added in a wide range of cross-training activities (that their more physically mature bodies were better able to adapt to).

November 26th, 2008, 01:08 PM
I would first want to make certain the weight program is supervised to a certain extent - ideally by a PT that has expereince working with developing teens.

I started some weight training in Jr. High (13-14 y/o), so I do not think it is too young. Perhaps have some other training methods (body weight exercise, stretch cords) as well as "traditional" machine of light free weights. The one thing you do not need at that young age is to be working with heavy free weights - too many opportunities for injury.

The final thought I have is make certain it is something your kid enjoys. The journey to elite swimmer does not happen over night, and realisticallly for most of us never happens at all despite all the training we put in. Swimming is good for health, focus, and building good freindships with team mates and other competitors.

November 26th, 2008, 03:23 PM
My opinion is that starting a 13 year old on weight lifting is unnecessary, a perfect opportunity for injury, and, as mentioned, burn out.
I've BTDT, and sputtered out by 18.
My son, on his own request, started a weight program at 15, but is supervised by a trainer at the gym. While he does do weights (primarily via machines at this point), he has found the most benefit coming from agility work with the trainer (very intense).
I agree with the statement that for the most part, muscular development happens naturally--my son had a nice shape before starting working with the trainer.
It will all come together if he has passion and his OWN goals.

For my own curiosity, I am surprised that a school would begin weight training at such an early age. Here, you cannot take weight training until Junior year in high school.

November 26th, 2008, 04:09 PM
Get clearance from your child's pediatrician before putting him on a weight lifting program. When a child starts lifting is based on where the child is in his physical growth.

Push-ups, pull-ups, and work with surgical tubing for resistance should be all that is needed at his age, and in my opinion that is being aggressive. In any case, I think the post mentioning core strength and working with his own body weight is good advice and really all he needs to be doing now.

As a former age group coach, I never put kids on weights until I had a letter from the doc saying they were ready. The earliest I ever saw a male swimmer on weights was 14.5 years and he was ahead of his peers in terms of physical maturity.

November 26th, 2008, 04:27 PM
Absolutely agree with Anita and Elise. Be very careful about letting your child start with weights until bones have attained their full growth. You may wish to consult with an orthopedist .

November 26th, 2008, 06:25 PM
Exactly how is a push-up or a pull-up different than weightlifting ? That is just silly.

Pull-ups are about the most difficult exercise of my weight lifting routine. I have seen age-groupers do "clapping" push-ups :applaud: - that is actually ballistic style weight-lifting - about as tough on your body as it can get.

I think it really has to be a case by case decision and also highly depends on the level of supervision. I would never let a group of 13 year old boys go wild in the weight room. But with a trainer doing solid core work, building the non-swimming muscles to help the shoulders (before the swimmer's shoulders get bad), and staying with lower weight % - why not ? Once or twice week should be all that is needed.

November 26th, 2008, 08:33 PM
Exactly how is a push-up or a pull-up different than weightlifting ? That is just silly.

Pull-ups are about the most difficult exercise of my weight lifting routine. I have seen age-groupers do "clapping" push-ups :applaud: - that is actually ballistic style weight-lifting - about as tough on your body as it can get.

I think it really has to be a case by case decision and also highly depends on the level of supervision. I would never let a group of 13 year old boys go wild in the weight room. But with a trainer doing solid core work, building the non-swimming muscles to help the shoulders (before the swimmer's shoulders get bad), and staying with lower weight % - why not ? Once or twice week should be all that is needed.

Hello? Big difference in a 120 pound boy doing push-ups versus doing bench press sets of more weight or squats of twice the weight. Check out the Presidential Physical Fitness test done on kids under 14. http://www.presidentschallenge.org/educators/program_details/physical_fitness/events.aspx

Among several measures of fitness is how many pull-ups OR push-ups they can do. If what you say is true, then why not use barbels and bench press to test out strength?

November 26th, 2008, 09:22 PM
From the Mayo Clinic (Note that doing exercises using own body weight is encouraged.):

Strength training: OK for kids when done correctly
From MayoClinic.com (http://www.mayoclinic.com/)
Special to CNN.com

The young athlete in your family is disciplined and devoted, squeezing in practice whenever he or she can. Now your child wants to start strength training. You've heard coaches and other parents talk about strength training, but you wonder — is strength training really good for a child?
The answer is yes. Strength training exercises that are supervised, safe and age-appropriate offer many bonuses to young athletes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association all support strength training for kids — if it's done properly. Today's children are increasingly overweight and out of shape. Strength training can help put them on the lifetime path to better health and fitness.

Strength training, not weightlifting

Strength training for kids — not to be confused with weightlifting, bodybuilding or powerlifting — is a carefully designed program of exercises to increase muscle strength and endurance. Weightlifting, bodybuilding and powerlifting are largely driven by competition, with participants vying to lift heavier weights or build bigger muscles than other athletes. This can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and growth plates, especially when proper technique is sacrificed in favor of lifting larger amounts of weight.
Strength training for kids, however, isn't about lifting the heaviest weight possible. Instead, the focus is on lighter weights and controlled movements, with a special emphasis on proper technique and safety.

Your child can build muscle strength using:

Free weights
Weight machines
Resistance bands
His or her own body weight
Benefits for young athletes

Strength training for kids has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Lifting weights, for example, was once thought to damage young growth plates — areas of cartilage that have not yet turned to bone. Experts now realize that with good technique and the right amount of resistance, young athletes can avoid growth plate injuries. Strengthening exercises, with proper training and supervision, provide many benefits to a young athlete.

Supervised strength training that emphasizes proper technique:

Increases your child's muscle strength and endurance
Protects your child's muscles and joints from injury
Helps improve performance in a particular sport
Your child may gain other health benefits from strength training, too. These include:

Better heart and lung function
A healthy body composition
Stronger bones
Lower blood cholesterol levels
A good fitness habit that lasts a lifetime
Some studies suggest that improved self-esteem and a decreased chance of depression also are upshots of strength training. Your child may get a feel-good boost after improving his or her performance.

Who benefits most?

Strength training benefits older preteens more than younger kids. At the age of 5 to 6, kids should be focusing on body awareness and body control, balance, running, jumping and throwing.
Strength training also helps those kids who have a focused interest in a particular sport. For example, a figure skater or dancer who has a goal of jumping higher can improve with strength training. Football players, soccer players — just about all young athletes — can enhance their performance with a strength training program.
Because technique and proper form are so important, don't let your child begin strength training until he or she is mature enough to accept directions. A good rule of thumb is if your child is old enough to participate in organized sports, such as hockey, soccer or gymnastics, he or she is ready for some form of strength training.

Guidelines for youth strength training

The right strength training program for your child isn't just a scaled-down version of what an adult would do. Many adult programs focus on fewer repetitions and heavier weights. A youth strength training program needs to focus on:

Correct technique
Smooth, controlled motions
Less resistance and many repetitions
Your child's coach can tailor a strength training program for your child according to your child's age, size, skills and sports interests. The general principles of youth strength training are:

<LI class=doublespace>Provide instruction. Show your child how to perform strength training exercises using controlled breathing and proper form. You might ask a trained professional to demonstrate. If you enroll your child in a class, make sure there's at least one instructor for every 10 students to ensure that your child receives proper instruction. <LI class=doublespace>Supervise. Adult supervision is important to reinforce safety and good technique. For instance, if your child lifts weights to strength train, a spotter — someone who stands ready to grab the weights — can step in if the weight becomes too heavy. As a parent, you can get involved in strength training, too. You can supervise your child and serve as a positive reinforcement for healthy lifestyle habits. <LI class=doublespace>Warm up; cool down. Have your child begin each workout with 5 to 10 minutes of a warm-up activity, such as walking, jogging in place or jumping rope. This makes muscles warm and ready for action, all the while minimizing the risk of injury. End each workout with a cool down, including some light stretching. <LI class=doublespace>Think light weights, controlled repetitions. One set of 12 to 20 repetitions at a lighter weight is all it takes. Kids don't need weights specially sized for them. They can safely lift adult-size weights as long as the weight isn't too heavy. The resistance doesn't have to come from weights, either. Resistance tubing can be just as effective — especially for younger kids. <LI class=doublespace>Rest between workouts. Establish a rest period of at least a day between strength training workouts. Two or three sessions per week are plenty. <LI class=doublespace>Track progress. Teach your child how to fill out a chart of which exercises, how many repetitions, and what weights or resistance he or she uses during a workout. It will be helpful in monitoring progress. <LI class=doublespace>Add weight gradually. Only when your child masters proper form should you add weight. If your child can't do 10 repetitions at a certain weight, it's too heavy.
Keep it fun. Vary the routine often. Kids are more likely to stick with strength training if they don't get bored by it.
Results won't come overnight. But over time, you and your child will notice a difference in your child's muscle strength and endurance.

A healthy habit for a lifetime

If your child shows an interest in strength training, know that it can be a safe and effective activity. Along with aerobic exercise, stretching, and balance and stability, strength training is one part of a well-rounded fitness program.
Encourage physical activity in your child — it's a key step to becoming a healthy adult.

Performance-enhancing drugs and your teen athlete (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/performance-enhancing-drugs/SM00045)
Children and sports: Choices for all ages (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/SM00057)
'Cutting' weight: A safe practice for youth wrestlers? (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cutting-weight/AN01015)
Keeping kids active: Ideas for parents (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/FL00030) January 11, 2006

1998-2006 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Embody Health," "Reliable tools for healthier lives," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Terms of Use (http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=AM00021).

November 27th, 2008, 10:41 AM
Thanks for the input.
I like the post by elise that suggested strength training as opposed to weight lifting. In truth, the class that he is taking now seems more along those lines. He does a wide variety of agility drills, core strength, running and such with weights mixed in. Perhaps taking a couple of days a week and helping him develop a varied dryland program with some resistance training as a part of it all may be an option. Again thanks for all the responses.

November 30th, 2008, 02:01 PM
When I was a kid they had us using stretch cords and bio-benches until we were old enough to lift weights.