Training kids (tweens)

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Off and on have been giving my twins - now 11, different circuits and routines to keep them moving.

They are somewhat active, but am really noticing that their movement habits are very much like an adult's, if they don't consciously DO some activity, they get very little spontaneous exercise. I suspect this is true of an increasing percentage of kids today and for a bunch of reasons.

Anyway, they (I) have struggled with proper form and I've been unwilling to load them up, so have just been doing bodyweight stuff for the last few months, 20 minutes 3 times a week. It gets them moving but does not appear to be very challenging.

Have taken the plunge and am starting them into some resistance training, using the filler bags that came with my commercial sandbags. These will fit up to 30lbs of sand, am starting them out with about 10kg which is approx 1/4 bodyweight.

Due to their attention span I plan to rotate exercises every week or two at the most. Have also resigned myself to doing most of the session with them or at least with me right there to supervise full time. With the bodyweight stuff they could train unsupervised most of the time after the first couple of weeks, that won't be happening any time soon with external resistance.

Finally they are gaining some awareness of lumbar curvature and reasonable form with a loaded squat and bent row. Spent a lot of time last night working on sandbag get-ups - unloaded get ups actually with a throw pillow as a stand in for the bag. This is going to take a couple of sessions, but they are coming along better than I expected and most importantly I haven't done anything so far to wreck their positive attitude.

Great learning experience for me and them hopefully. This size sandbag could last them a few, till they are big enough for one of the smaller commercial bags or transition into another mode. Is a good way to learn all the basic movement patterns common to most external resistance exercise.

Current session:
-Jumping jacks warmup
-Space out three bags the length of the living room and hop with feet together out and back, repeat x10 = 60 hops
-Space out three bags the length of the living room and side hop with feet together out and back, repeat x10
-Offset shoulder squat x8
-2H overhead press x10
-Bent rows x10
-Getups x10 (5 each side)

2 repeats, soon to be three.

The plan calls for the hopping components to be swapped with jumping lunges, mountain climbers, and box jumps (have to make a box).
Squats will be subbed out with step ups (again, waiting on the box).
Overhead press subbed with pushups
Bent rows subbed with cleans
Getups subbed with deck squats, but that could take quite some time.

I'd feel better if they were getting more outdoor time or had affinity for a sport, but they have zero interest in that. My boy takes swim lessons and my daughter recently quit gymnastics due to the social atmosphere in her class, will probably sign her up for some MA. My niece attends a local Kyokushin school and really likes it, competes all over the NE and Canada. Either way they need something else to keep in shape if they won't do so spontaneously, so the journey continues...

Anyone that's had success or failure with similar, feel free to comment/add/critique.
 

ali

Level 7 Valued Member
Good for you. Can't offer any advice other than to stick in with it. Whenever I've tried to discuss training with my daughters I'm competing against some fluffy bunny instagram influencer who combines personal training with tips on applying eye liner. At 17 years old she is knowledgeable and successful. Got no chance.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
I try to get my kids into resistance training too and have come to really appreciate the power lifts for my kids. The only kettlebell exercise I'm able to coach for them resulting in decent mechanics understanding seems to be a goblet squat.

They run a youth track club in the spring and its taken more than one year to build good mechanics too. I think some decent resistance is necessary to build the right mechanics and a barbell can be loaded as light or heavy as necessary. The power lifts seem to provide some really basic mechanics development.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I try to get my kids into resistance training too and have come to really appreciate the power lifts for my kids. The only kettlebell exercise I'm able to coach for them resulting in decent mechanics understanding seems to be a goblet squat.

They run a youth track club in the spring and its taken more than one year to build good mechanics too. I think some decent resistance is necessary to build the right mechanics and a barbell can be loaded as light or heavy as necessary. The power lifts seem to provide some really basic mechanics development.

Yeah, the KB stuff was pretty much a non starter after I had a lot of trouble just getting them to rack it. I don't have barbell, so the next step was the bags, just had to wait till the weather changed as they were added ballast in the back of the wife's car for Winter driving.

The filler ones are pretty nice, have a pair of parallel handles and roll over twice to seal - about 18" x 10".

The sandbags seem to be a lot easier for them to mentally to get the hang of, only took a few minutes for them to do a respectable clean, flipping the bag over into the rack. Very promising.
 

Gregor Samsa

Level 1 Valued Member
Training with them seems like the key design component of your program. That keeps it more like play than anything else. My oldest is ten and I have the same problem. She has decided she is too old for the unstructured play that used to keep her fit, but does not yet possess the focus for hard training.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
The sandbags seem to be a lot easier for them to mentally to get the hang of, only took a few minutes for them to do a respectable clean, flipping the bag over into the rack. Very promising.
Rob Orlando, the head coach of Hybrid Athletics, is very evangelical about using odd implements and strongman style training for novices. Sandbags seem to align to that well for kids.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Had a great session tonight! The boy was actually doing textbook posting off the support arm with his getups, sweeping the leg, fantastic.

Ultimately I'm with Rob Shaul when he says "I don't care how you get up" as long as you go all the way prone and back up. The work is getting done. Good form on the rows, overhead pressing, very happy right now. Looked like the real deal. They'll need more weight in a couple weeks if their form keeps improving at this rate(y).
 

ShawnM

Level 8 Valued Member
It's funny you brought up this topic as I was just thinking of a decent starter plan for my kids this weekend. I too have twins, 12, my daughter is very athletic and does well with nearly everything. My son has a dad bod that I hope to never have myself so that is going to take some work.
I'm looking at some basic dumbbell lifts with some bodyweight squats. My son has a real lack of upper body strength so dumbbell presses and rows and snatches should help with that. Higher reps for the presses and rows (10) and reps of 2-3 for the dumbbell snatch.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
It's funny you brought up this topic as I was just thinking of a decent starter plan for my kids this weekend. I too have twins, 12, my daughter is very athletic and does well with nearly everything. My son has a dad bod that I hope to never have myself so that is going to take some work.
I'm looking at some basic dumbbell lifts with some bodyweight squats. My son has a real lack of upper body strength so dumbbell presses and rows and snatches should help with that. Higher reps for the presses and rows (10) and reps of 2-3 for the dumbbell snatch.
Best of luck, let us know what you wind up using.

With kids there are a bunch of things intersecting at that age.
@ Gregor Samsa, they don't do as much spontaneous activity anymore, no quick trips to the local jungle gym etc. They have fewer opportunities to challenge their fitness, where a couple years ago everyone had a vague rating of skill and strength based on how well they did different parts of the school jungle gym, tag, kickball, etc.

They have a lot more homework. 5th grade and my boy has well over an hour sometimes. Computer, tablet, chromebook, all get used for homework and then again for downtime. We limit them to one hour of tech and one of TV, and most days they might get less than that, but it seems like they're always plugged in (seems like I am too).

They have no instinctive understanding of caloric value of food. They are beginning to make more choices about what they eat, but don't have any idea they should be changing it around based on how their pants fit.

Its strange to me but as I mentioned earlier, the more I think about it the more my kids lives are mechanically very much like that of an adult. Fitness doesn't just take care of itself with a lot of activity like it did when I was a kid. I used to go nuts if I was cooped up in my house too long. That is not a problem anymore with all the tech modern kids have, or at least not to the same extent.

Luckily my kids view themselves as somewhat hearty (although I tease them often) and are interested in backpacking, canoeing, etc. So they look at this as a challenge. We have a backpack trip coming up in a few weeks that will give them something real life to gauge their fitness against.
 

Waryrenn

Level 5 Valued Member
Reading a bit of Dan John recently and read this article on systematic education.
As someone who's strength training for the first time in my mid-30s I had to smile as I recognised much of myself in here.
It's less about training plan and more about gaining a perspective on systematic education. Might be a useful background read on this subject - if only so you know what to avoid!
Seems like your twins are off to a good start.
 

vegpedlr

Level 6 Valued Member
This idea of kids moving like adults intrigues me. I can sorta see it, I think, but I can’t articulate it. To add to that, those kids that are active often specialize in a particular sport early on, so develop the that sport’s characteristic imbalances.
 

Stuart Elliott

Level 6 Valued Member
@North Coast Miller great thread.
I can relate this to my 10 year old son, he started playing rugby 2 years ago and loves it, it's piqued his interest in strength training and now does daily press ups, planks, body weight squats of his own accord. He's shown an interest in my kettlebells and deadlifts my 40kg when I'm with him. I'm hoping this interest continuous as it beats sitting in front of the play station. It's a shame those playing out side days and exploring are over for this generation.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Next variation, all lifts done with 22lb sandbag except for jumping lunges and jumping jacks.

jumping jack warmups - 50

Step ups - 50
Jumping lunges 15
Clean and toss (I'm catching) 15
Toss from hinge position, no momentum, the bag starts out on top of their feet (I'm catching) 15
PUs 10 (from knees if they gas out)
Kneeling half moons 10 (these are so tough for em that they bring it to a clean position rather than an overhead extension)
10 sandbag getups, 5 each side

Repeat.

Their hinge patterning is really improving. I can also see a difference in how they are able to keep moving under load without shifting as much. 7 sessions in - I'm proud of the effort and willingness to work that they're showing.
 

Abdul-Rasheed

Level 6 Valued Member
I have twins too, soon to be 9 years, boy and girl. The boy takes soccer and BJJ lessons and loves it. The girl gymnastics.

I always thought, I want them doing deadlifts, getups among other things as they grow up.

What is the right age to get them started on body weight, or light weight training? What would you recommend them start doing?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I have twins too, soon to be 9 years, boy and girl. The boy takes soccer and BJJ lessons and loves it. The girl gymnastics.

I always thought, I want them doing deadlifts, getups among other things as they grow up.

What is the right age to get them started on body weight, or light weight training? What would you recommend them start doing?

I honestly don't know. A lot depends on their interest level, how competitive they are, what they think they'll get out of it.

When I was 9 I was training on a Bullworker and loved it - simple widget that came with a wall chart showing good form. It had a way of measuring progress, taught me all the common resistance training movement patterns. It was the perfect tool at the time. I don't think I could have learned freeweight, and my kids wouldn't have done FW at age 9, wouldn't have done KB either, probably wouldn't do KB now at age 11. I was surprised I couldn't get then interested in med ball. Honestly something like a Bowflex or universal gym would probably be ideal.

I did start them out with a bodyweight circuit that prepped them for actual resistance work without turning them off, in that respect it worked out well even if it was marginally effective in terms of skill or strength development from my POV.

The sandbags have been perfect for them. They really took to the jumping drills, so having a block(s) or something to jump over/past worked out very well and there's no need to be busting them constantly about form. They also seem to really like throwing the bags at me. They definitely work just as hard at that as they do with pressing and such, maybe harder. Sandbag getups have been incredibly successful - even though they look plenty challenging, they just do em. Very little cueing or fussing with form required, which puts them at opposite ends of the spectrum from the Turkish getup IMHO.There is no way I could get them doing KB/extended arm style TGU.

The toughest thing by a huge margin has been teaching them to keep the lumbar back straight when under load, and this is what kept me from trying to get them into resistance work at an earlier age.

This is a near constant issue, I suspect because they are so flexible in the spine. They do it correctly only because I am constantly demonstrating form and using every tip I can think of - I do not believe they can feel the least difference between flexed or straight in terms of loading or stability. But... they are slowly incorporating good hinge mechanics, or at least not unsafe, and across a number of exercises.

I'm learning a lot from this interaction.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Update, my daughter has stopped doing any of the resistance training and instead goes for a 30 minute jog about 4 times a week and rollerblades quite a bit - unstructured. Cross country starts next year, maybe I can get her interested. She'd be a good fit for rollerderby too, but my city doesn't have a youth league.

My son now does:
jumping lunges
overhead press
half moons
rows
pushups
getups

In a circuit 3x through, finishing with a bunch of ab exercises he learned at his swimming club. Most of the sandbag work is in 15-20 rep range. Now 100% self motivated, I poke my head in from time to time just to check his form.

I've written him a new routine that uses more weight and tighter set structure but he hasn't gotten around to trying it out yet.

Just a bit past 11 and a half, he now has visible 6 pack, somewhat pronounced quads, and overall upper body musculature is more defined - no real mass gain to speak of up top but he is a lot more agile and functionally strong ( Eg. 30+pushups when he's fresh using pretty good form, easily jumps on my back from a dead start).

Anyway, pretty cool. If he keeps this up he'll be on a good track to do whatever with it - solid GPP.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
_You_ could take the kettlebell course or certification and learn how it's taught.

-S-
Well...I do have my cert through Steve Maxwell for intro KB and have helped a handful of adults to get started.

Biggest issue training a 10-11 year old compared to an adult - they have almost zero concept of a neutral lumbar spine when they hinge or bend over. Honestly the rest of it is doable, but that lower back thing is crazy tough to teach them no matter what props and prompts you use.

He's to a point where I could now introduce it with success (reasonably good awareness doing bent rows and half moons), but I cannot imagine he'll see any advantage switching to KB over what he's doing currently.
 
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