GET MOVING!! Strength training is an incredible tool for young athletes. It is proven to increase children’s posture (or potentially reverse the affects of those insane backpacks the kids carry in my town), body composition and self-image. It can help battle winter blues in kids and adults alike.
I have been offering my team clients specialized workouts to condition them for their on seasons. This season I have been fortunate enough to work with my towns youth hockey team. Many of my readers, friends and clients have asked me for tips on how to train their young athletes (this team is made up of 11-12 year old male and female players).
The number one question I am always asked by parents is “Is strength training safe for my child”? Since I always like to defer to a field expert, I spoke at length with a pediatrician who referred me to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). AAP indicates that strength training (lifting free weights, using weight machines using elastic tubing or using one’s own body weight for resistance) CAN be safe if the child is cleared by their doctor/ the child is in excellent health. At my kids annual check-up’s I always mention it to the pediatrician just to confirm we are all clear. Also, special care needs to be taken not to overdo it. Lastly, and this is super important, someone that understands proper technique must teach and emphasize the safety of correct technique.
Moderate weight training (done in a supervised and safe manner) will not affect growth. These fears are unfounded.
I cannot emphasize enough how important technique is. Last night, I had to correct ALL of my players as they did squats, lunges, push-ups and squat holds. If they were left to their own devices, their feet would track in a way that could really hurt their knees. Over time these injuries would land them in a hospital with torn meniscus’ or worse (trust me- I’ve been there personally). I’ve discussed this with my orthopedist from Hospital For Special Surgery in NYC.
Additionally, do not overlook aerobic activity for kids. Building stamina will help them in sports (and as they grow in other areas of fitness). This part can certainly be fun for the team. Allowing them to run together and play games such as steal the bacon or red light green light is always a hit.
Young athletes must learn correct form or else they will risk many related injuries down the road. If one body part gets compromised, others will take over and get overworked as well.
Weight training improves strength in kids. It will not bulk them up but will increase overall strength.
The AAP has written a policy statement on strength training in kids/ teens. Here are a few highlights:
- Kids should be at least 7 or 8 before they start strength training.
- Younger kids should use lighter weights and do more reps.
- Weight training programs must be appropriate for the age and development of the child- Supervision is crucial!
- Kids should limit use of machines because they are typically designed for people with longer arms and legs although youth sized equipment does exist.
I have worked with a few overweight kids- some labeled “obese”. I find that these are the kids that respond the best to training (although patience is key to creating better life habbits). Starting with a regimen of walking and yoga I like to slowly increasing the pace allows these kids to improve their look, self-esteem and even their cholesterol levels. Teaching kids at a young age to enjoy moderate exercise can change their lifestyle and reshape their lives. Once again, proper format and safety are the key. I will tell you that the most important part of this relationship is how well the child takes to the trainer. If the trainer is well liked and respected it will be an invaluable tool for the child. If not, don’t waste your money.
I like to focus on core strengthening activities. These will help the kids to play any sport with a stronger foundation. This is not to say that I do not focus on all major muscle groups- I certainly do. I often employ a system of peripheral heart action training. This was something I learned in my NASM (national academy of sports medicine) training and it is a fancy way of saying that I keep my clients moving from one exercise to another (with minimal to no rest in-between unless necessary) to keep their heart rates up. This method has my clients alternating between upper and lower body exercises with core exercises in between.
To sum it up: if properly supervised, children over age 8 can strength train. It will improve their sports performance. Do not overlook aerobic conditioning- it will build stamina. Proper warm up and cool down should be added to all work-outs. Clear with your doctor annually at their physicals. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Lastly, for kids, enjoyment is key. Make it fun. Play games. Invite friends. Kids will not stick with a program they do not enjoy. Have your child tell you what they enjoy and if you are fortunate enough to have a private trainer, make sure the trainer works with your child to ensure they are building a program around your child and not visa versa. I offer all of my clients a free session every 6 months or when their needs change to program build. I like to determine what the right mix of strength, conditioning, yoga, warm-up, cool-down, foam rolling and “playing or having fun” should be.
See my article on foam rolling here (of course for the kids ignore the cellulite parts). Here is another comprehensive foam rolling article you might enjoy. It explains how to foam roll and the benefits.
Complete entire circuit by 12/7/17. If you need to break up into smaller sessions speak to me for assistance.
Text me a small clip of you performing the hardest exercise(s) so I can see your form.
FaceTime or call me if you have any questions (how to do an exercise/ form).
Text me the word "done" when you have completed the work-out. I will be giving a report to Coach Keith on December 7th of those players who have completed the circuit. We are expecting 100 Percent completion.
We will review all of these exercises in person if you attend the off-ice conditioning on Tuesday Dec. 5th.
- warm up See Instruction
- 1.5 minutes high knees
- 1.5 minutes ice skaters
- 1 minute "bring sally up from video" you were texted the link to this video. Move to your knees when necessary.
- 30 second squats
- 30 second squat hold use wall if it improves your form
- 30 seconds forearm plank hold
- 30 seconds lie on back, put legs in air 90 degrees and reach opposite hand to opposite foot feel the contraction in your core
- 1.5 minutes mountain climbers on floor
- 1.5 minutes mountain climbers standing
- 1 minute "bring sally up" from video
- 30 second 20 second side squats right with 10 second hold
- 30 second 20 second side squats left with 10 second hold
- 1 minute plank hold, alternating knees to elbows
- 1.5 seconds burpies with push-up
- 1.5 seconds tuck jumps
- 1 minute "bring sally up" video
- 1 minute Walking lunges with twists
- 30 seconds v-ups
- 30 seconds banana rocks
- 5-10 minute cool down see instruction
10 jumping jacks
10 hip circles each direction
10 knee circles each direction
10 shoulder circles each direction
10 arm circles each direction
touch toes (or as far down as you can) and hold for 30 seconds.
If you have space- walk fast for 2 minutes, jog for 30 seconds and sprint for 30 seconds (repeat twice).
I love foam rolling each muscle group used. I'll put a link to the foam roller in the article. Foam roll for 5-10 minutes to cool down.
If you do not have a foam roller and/or do not like to foam roll, the following cool down is great as well:
30 second quad stretch on each side
30 second figure 4 stretch on each side
Hold each arm across your chest for 30 seconds each
Place your arm in air, put hand on your back (elbow still in air) and stretch by placing opposite arm on your elbow. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on opposite side.
Shoulder stretch against wall (I'll show you) for 30 seconds each side
Down dog for 30 seconds
Childs pose for 30 seconds
Please share your favorite playlists with the team- music is motivational and will help.
Eventually, I'd like to put together a video with your favorite songs and favorite exercises for you to keep and use. Those who make suggestions will receive a small reward!
See you at the rink!!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products that I link to and recommend them because they are companies and products that I have found helpful and trustworthy.