What age can my kid begin training with kettlebells?
With proper guidance and programming, strength training can be incredibly safe for children as young as 7 or 8
Building healthy habits early in life
This article hits close to home for me and probably will for you also if you have children of any age still in the home. What makes this such a challenge for parent to instill in their children is because more often than not, they do not possess the habit of daily exercise either. We don’t know about you, but it’s convicting when you’re parenting your children on anything that you don’t currently do yourself. Take cussing for an example. We think it is safe to assume that no parent wants to hear their child dropping “F” bombs. However, if “F” bombs make their way out of a parent’s mouth too often, that parent really doesn’t have any ground to stand on when parenting their children to not say that word either.
“Our actions speak so loud that they cannot hear what we say”
Look, this isn’t intended to be a parenting article, but as coaches who have worked with a lot of kids over the years, it becomes quite apparent which kids have a healthy lifestyle emphasized and modeled for them at home, and which ones do not. May we encourage all parents to model this for their children so we can reverse some really unhealthy trends happening in our culture.
The earlier healthy habits are instilled in life, the greater the likelihood that those habits will stick for the rest of one’s life. In an article from the NIH (National Institute for Health), it stated that, adopting new, healthier habits may protect you from serious health problems like obesity and diabetes. New habits, like healthy eating and regular physical activity, may also help you manage your weight and have more energy. After a while, if you stick with these changes, they may become part of your daily routine.
Is it safe to begin strength training before puberty?
The short answer is yes. If you look at a kids on a playground jumping on and off things, climbing things, and pulling their body around, while this is certainly a child at play, their bodies are already experience forces at or greater than they will be experiencing in strength training. And yes, kids should still be kids and play as much as possible outside, scrape their knees and elbows up, ride their bikes, swim at the city pool, and play pick-up games of football, baseball, street hockey, etc…..
According to an article in kidshealth.org, kids and teens who are ready to participate in organized sports or other activities such as baseball, soccer, or gymnastics usually can safely start strength training. Kids as young as 7 or 8 years old can safely do strength training if they have good balance and control of their body, follow instructions, and can do the exercises with good form.
A child’s strength-training program shouldn’t be a scaled-down version of an adult’s weight training regimen. Kids who strength train should learn proper technique and know how to use the equipment safely.
Can my child get injured strength training or using kettlebells?
Again, the short answer is yes, with a caveat. A kid can get injured riding their bike. They could get injured by having a line drive hit them. They could get injured by falling off the jungle gym at the local park.
For perspective’s sake, what’s more risky or injurious to a kid’s development, strength training or sitting on the couch in front of a screen for hours every day?
In another article research article published in Sports Health, the researchers concluded:
Youth—athletes and nonathletes alike—can successfully and safely improve their strength and overall health by participating in a well-supervised program. Trained fitness professionals play an essential role in ensuring proper technique, form, progression of exercises, and safety in this age group.
A proposed solution
We said at the beginning of this article that this one hits close to home. We’re creating a kid’s kettlebell strength program called Well Built Kids, where we introduce kids as young as 7 to participate in. When we say “we,” I’m referring to my son and I. My son began training with kettlebells as early as 4. Why? Because he wanted to due to seeing his dad train with them. Hence the whole parenting paragraph in the beginning. When the parents get on board, the whole family transforms, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. My son’s been doing pushups, pullups, chin-ups, kettlebell swings, kettlebell goblet squats, kettlebell overhead presses, kettlebell 1-arm rows, and a few other exercises for years. We haven’t done anything fancy or “drill sargeanty.” I just exposed him to what I refer to as “daily doses” or “micro-dosing” of strength training most days of the week. What this means is the training session is very short, very doable, and the repetition that occurs because it’s done frequently throughout the week, the strength, coordination, and confidence soon follows.
So that’s what we’ve done in this first 6 week program called Warrior I. We’ve taken all of the guess work out of it so the kid could follow along on his or her own, but as we’ve encouraged before, we hope that the parents engage with this also. The technique is laid out visually both in photo and video format, which is how kids learn best. Heck, most humans learn best by watching and then doing. They will be led by another kid performing the movements so they can see that one of their peers is leading the way, and not just another adult barking orders. The program is laid in digital PDF form so it’s accessible and easy to follow. The sets and reps are also laid out for the 6 weeks so there’s no guessing on how much to do. The warm-up is laid out as well. All one has to do is find the 15-20 minutes to do the warm-up and knock out the 4 strength exercises. In fact, there may be many days where the response to the session is, “that was quick and easy.” Yep, that’s exactly what we want. We want the habit to form. Just like you brushing your teeth first thing in the morning, warming up and getting your body primed for the day can become a habit as well. We also provided some basic nutrition habits to help your child implement as well. These tips are nothing fancy, but they can make all the difference in the world.
When the days come where you’re fighting your kid to get their daily dose of Warrior I, because trust us, it will come, be very cognizant of how their attitude changes when they do the training session, even when they don’t want to. It’s magical. And one of the most important gifts that we can impart on our children is to teach them to honor their bodies, develop grit, and learn to do hard things, especially when they don’t want to.
We give you Well Built Kids: Warrior I