By Andy on November 11, 2015
Children aren’t young adults, so you can’t train them similarly to adults. Children need specialized training and the development is much more than just physical improvements.
As a coach at Iconic Fitness, Dubai Marina, I’m surprised how many trainers train children / young adults as though they were adults, but just a bit smaller and younger. In truth, the programming for children is much different than those of adults. It’s not just merely a case of doing squats, dead-lifts, and bench presses with lighter weights.
Here are a few thoughts on training the youth:
- Start at home
The main focus is to burn calories, and this can be done everywhere. One can walk up the stairs instead of using an escalator/elevator. Assisting parents around the home with chores for example washing the car, assisting in carrying one bag while shopping for groceries. Walking the dog and gardening are all fun family-related activities and can add to burning extra calories.
- Variety is key
Activities need to be fun and need to include balance, agility, coordination, mobility, and basic skill development. Children’s attention span is quite short so each activity needs to change every 5-10 minutes. Doing traditional reps and sets repetitive as we do with training adults won’t work here. The more creative you are, the better a trainer you will be.
- Making friends
Teamwork is an important skill in life. Children can start learning this through exercise. Tossing a ball to one another or working in small groups to complete little circuits and motivate one another while burning calories adds an extra dimension to having fun.
- Cardiovascular training
Running on a treadmill for 20 minutes at a steady pace is not typically associated with improving the fitness levels of children. Team sports like football, ‘tag’, ‘stuck in the mud’ is a far better way in achieving cardiovascular development for the youth as it is much more fun and enjoyable. As a guideline 20-30 minutes of running activity, 3 times a week is ideal.
- Resistance training
Children can lift weights! But only under strict guidelines. Pre-schoolers should not be lifting weights. Children from 10 years and up can slowly engage in light resistance training. Movements need to be multi-joint movements that support the natural movement of children. Isolated movements that focus on only one body part at a time is not ideal.
When weights/resistance is applied proper form needs to be maintained for 10-15 reps, if not done correctly throughout the entire rep range, one needs to discontinue the added resistance. Developing motor skills is the main focus here, not increasing muscle or lean mass. The number of reps will be increased before the load is increased.
- General guidelines
Extended hours of 2 hours or more of physical activity for children is discouraged.
The main focus of training is development, health, wellness, fitness, and performance benefits. At least 15-20 minutes of activity should be done per day. 60-180 minutes of physical activity is recommended per week for most ages.
Iconic Fitness, Dubai Marina