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Strength Training For Kids: When is the Best Time to Start?

“lifting during puberty is like legal steroids.”

That quote was taken from a tweet by renowned strength coach Mike Boyle. Strength training during your middle school years are some of the most important training years of your life.

Beginner trainees can make improvements in strength and speed at a rapid rate and the results are only enhanced by going through puberty at the same time. Getting strong and powerful by the time you’re in 8th grade can set you up for a lot of future success in your high school years.

Preteens and young teenagers are not delicate little flowers. They need to get in the weight room and train.

Over the last 8 years or so working with young athletes, this is a fact I usually have to convince the parents of; the kids are good to go.

The problem is that for some parents when they think of strength training this is what they see:

There is obviously more than one training style out there and this is not what sports performance training looks like for kids.

Kids, and all athletes for that matter, need to keep things simple and master the basics. A training program for an athlete should teach them to squat, hinge, push, pull, sprint, and that’s pretty much it. There’s no need to make things overly complicated.

It’s not about having these overly impressive and complex training programs. It’s about getting a little bit better each day, week after week, and month after month for years of consistent hard work.

Consistency Is KING. I’ll take the athlete who consistently shows up for months on end for “boring” and “simple” training programs over the athlete who shows up sporadically for a “lights out” workout.

It should also be noted that no, lifting weights will not stunt their growth. I’ve seen it anecdotally too many times to believe this myth, and the research does not back that up.


"If your son or daughter looks like a baby giraffe while performing a lunge they’re not going to get anything out of some fancy agility drills."


Piggy backing along with this myth is a lot of parents are only interested in having their kids do “speed and agility classes.” I highly encourage parents not to waste their money on this type of class.

If your son or daughter looks like a baby giraffe while performing a lunge they’re not going to get anything out of some fancy agility drills. Speed work for someone in this stage is like putting sweet rims on a car that has no engine.

In other words, you have to have power in order to train it. Speed comes from putting more force into the ground. What most young athletes need is to goblet squat, reverse lunge, deadlift, and learn to do proper push-ups and rows.

When an athlete gets stronger and puts more force into the ground they’ll get from point A to Point B in less time. I tell our athletes all the time I want strong, powerful strides, not quick feet.

Strength is the foundation of all athleticism and is a total game changer at the middle school and high school levels because there are so many athletes (or parents) that are afraid of the weight room or just not willing to put in the time or effort to get anything out of it.

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