How To Train Your Kids?

Garage Gym Athlete
How To Train Your Kids?

Hey, Athletes! How To Train Your Kids?  Episode of The Garage Gym Athlete Podcast is up!

How To Train Your Kids?


  • Jerred talks resistance training for kids
  • He quickly goes through a systematic review study on training in youth athletes
  • He gives his own approach with his kids
  • And A LOT MORE!!

Diving Deeper…

If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here is a link to the study for you: 

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To becoming better!

- Jerred

Podcast Transcript

Jerred: This is the garage gym athlete podcast. And we're here to build autonomous athletes and put phenomenal programming into every garage basement and spare bedroom out there. I'm Jerred moon. And with Joe Courtney, we are strength and conditioning coaches who have turned over 20, 000 people into garage gym athletes over the last decade.

And we're here to reduce the information overload that exists in the health and fitness industry today. We're going to do that by covering relevant science and give actionable takeaways, not only from the data, but from. Our years of experience. So let's dive in.

All right. Today, I'm talking about training your kids or training youth in general. If this is something that you're interested in, you have kids definitely stick around for this episode. And I'm going to unpack a lot of things from my own experience and some research that I've been looking at recently.

So let's dive in. So we all know there's a lot of, I guess we can call it bro science around lifting and kids. Everyone knows it. Even my wife, when my kids first started joining me in the garage gym, she Was concerned. She said, can't it stunt their growth? Is there a problem here? What do we need to know?

And, I think a lot of that is, is founded in, I don't want to say fully bro science, there is some science that points to Like where those ideas came from. And I'm going to try and unpack a lot of that today. If you are looking to get your kids exercising with you in the gym, or if you're trying to get them on a more serious program for sports, I'm going to talk about my experience and also what some of the latest research says, because I know.

It, there, there is a lot with it like I know that there was a just a couple anecdotal stories when I was in the seventh grade. That's where football started to get a little bit more serious here in the state of Texas. And there was one dude who like he started lifting weights. Pretty early and pretty heavy really aggressive.

His dad was super into it. It was like fifth grade is probably when he started. So by the time we get to seventh grade, this guy, it was just phenomenal. So strong, so impressive. And he ended up being a pretty good football player overall, but he never made it past five, five. He just stuck there. And a lot of people always wondered if that was the reason why.

Was it the lifting? Cause his dad wasn't five, five. Me for another example, I'm five 11. My dad is 6'3 my brother 6'1 6'2 He had a big accident in the military that like took away some of his femur, but he was probably 6'2 in his prime, right? And so why am I sitting at 5'11 I started training when I was about 14 years old.

I haven't really stopped since then. Is that why I'm 5'11 I don't know. And so these questions always come up when we're talking about weightlifting and kids. And I know a lot of parents are concerned about No one wants to stunt their kid's growth. So is that even possible? I'm going to be talking about that a little bit today.

I'm also going to be talking about my ideas on training children and this new study. Here's how I look at it. I recently got invited my middle son, and just so everyone knows, yeah, I'm not talking about this in theory, just in case anybody's new here. I have three kids. I have a five year old, I have a nine year old, and I have an eleven year old.

The nine and eleven year old are boys who are very super into sports. We're talking about all the sports, football, basketball, soccer, tennis. If it's got a ball they're ready to play. Eleanor, my daughter, is my youngest, she also enjoys sports, she also enjoys dance and gymnastics, those kind of things.

But, I've more recently taken interest into this because my middle son, my nine year old, he's on a select soccer team, and they, the coach on that team, found out about my background just in strength and conditioning as a coach and whatnot, and he asked, he's hey, would you be willing to Coach the boys on strength and conditioning once a week, something like that.

Give them some homework to work on. And I was like, sure, absolutely. I'd love to work on this stuff. I'll be 100 percent honest, I don't have a lot of experience training youth athletes. All of my experience is with military personnel, adults, and then all of my training, all of my certifications. They don't really get into what to do with youth or what to do with kids.

And I know there are areas that you can go to learn more about these kinds of things, but I just didn't have that experience. So I've been diving into this stuff a lot. And also my kids are fairly athletic and I try to make sure that fitness is a part of their lives. It's a big thing that I harp on as just like a family core value and.

And things of that nature. And so I have been looking into this a lot and there's another, there's a study that just came out. It was came out in 2023. It's called risk and recommendations for resistance training in youth athletes, a narrative review with emphasis on muscular fitness and hypertrophic responses.

So again, more recent, it's an, it's a narrative review. Which is like a systematic review where they're taking a look at other studies and trying to draw some conclusions, right? It's not necessarily a full on systematic review, but they did look at literature. They had all these parameters that they were looking at for things that they wanted to pull.

And so they pulled a bunch of studies and they looked into it. And the first thing that we looked at is, are there any actual risks and concerns with training kids? And what are they? The first thing that has to be stated, not only just from the study, but as a coach in general, someone who's about to train another human being in something that involves any kind of resistance training, athletic performance in general, you have to know going into it right away, there is a risk of injury.

You just have to know that. You have to know. If you're going to ask your kid to pick up a two pound kettlebell, the second you start getting resistance beyond their body involved, there is. Chance of injury and it happens now what they found out was it's not any worse It's actually much less of a problem with resistance training and youth athletes.

It was let's see the Actual numbers that they pulled were point zero five three and point one seven six per 100 hours That was the injury rate and compared to youth rugby Per 100 hours was 0. 65, which is a lot more than 0. 053 to 1. 06, which is a lot more than 0. 176. So those are the injury rates difference between just resistance training and a kid playing rugby, which could be equivalent to a kid playing tackle football or soccer, something of that nature.

So resistance training in and of itself is not overly dangerous. There is the potential for Someone getting hurt. Like I said, you just have to know that the second someone starts a program. But it's not more than them playing sports. So if you're okay with your kid playing sports, you're probably okay with them being a part of some sort of exercise program.

Now let's go back to the anecdotal stories. Why am I 5'11 when my dad and brother are taller than I am? Is that just part of genetics? And just to throw a little bit more in there my grandpa's 5'9 something like that. So I honestly think that I just got averaged out in genetics. I don't actually think weightlifting had anything to do with how tall I am.

And same with my friend. I think that it just happened. I think it's anecdotal. I don't know if it's necessarily what actually happens, but there is some. scientific concern or physio physiological reasons people are concerned for this, and it has to do with growth plates specifically. They're very soft in children.

So there's a difference between children's bones and adults in the presence of growth plates, and it's it's softer in children and doesn't form until it gets Until you fully mature through puberty and everything. And what they found was, there were these studies done in the 70s and 80s. Honestly, this is like the last time they looked at this stuff.

And the theory is that the injury would cause a ligament sprain. An injury that would cause a ligament sprain in an adult could possibly cause a growth plate fracture in a child, and that could potentially result in stunted growth. Okay, so what would be a significant ligament sprain for an adult could fracture a growth plate in a child.

Just to do, due to the location of where growth plates are, the fact that they're softer, they're not fully formed. So they're just, they're weaker in tensile strength is the real definition. And so it limits its ability to reduce force compared to not only the rest of the bone, but some of the soft tissue structures.

So it's very, it is possible. It's founded in physiological reasoning that you could damage a growth plate by adding resistance or plyometrics or anything like that. And the risk definitely sounds scary. But like I said, most of the original concern related to youth weightlifting. It stemmed from retrospective studies that came from the 70s and 80s.

And when you look at those deeper in these studies, the studies were not great. They were unsupervised training or underqualified supervision of training. Of course, 70s and 80s, right? Full lack of instruction on how to do things or low quality lifting equipment during and also using poorly designed programs.

So they just weren't the best studies overall. And there were some severe injuries that occurred in these reports. Most injuries were minor. And one retrospective analysis of high school weightlifting injuries over five years. There were only a total of 80 injured athletes and only 43, three of whom's injuries were directly attributed to weightlifting and only four which required surgery.

And now it's not saying all of these were growth plate injuries, but I think that's what ultimately everyone's concerned about. Because an injury like twisting an ankle or something like That's one thing where your kid will recover pretty fast, they recover very fast, but the bigger concern is if I introduce this to them, is it going to stunt their growth?

Is there going to be a problem with their growth plate? Something like that. And overall it looks like that, the chances of that happening If you have a properly designed program, you don't load them too fast, and you don't go crazy with it, it seems like the chances of that happening are incredibly low, okay?

And I look at this all the time, just with, in, in moving through space. There are kids who work on a farm who are going to be far more capable than my children in just doing manual labor, right? Carrying Heavy objects across a field or whatever, carrying heavy loads for long distances. A kid who legitimately works on a farm at 11 years old with their dad versus my more suburban style lifestyle with my 11 year old really doing sports.

Like it's different, right? But they're not concerned about the 11 year old lifting these heavy objects, walking across the field, right? So I really think it has to do with what you're doing and how you're trying to train your kids. And just to go over the science real quick, basically I went over most of it.

And that is, yes, they found out that muscles can grow. They're a little bit unsure of, do muscles grow quickly in children from the training or the fact that they're just getting older? It's hard to actually study children because they are, they're changing so rapidly, right? You can't you could get a 200 percent increase in testosterone in a year and you're like, is that, did they gain a whole bunch of muscle mass because of my training or did they gain a whole bunch of muscle mass because.

Just hormones in general. So there was some inconclusive stuff there on this end of the study. You can look at it. More, ultimately, people do get stronger when they lift. They have some programming recommendations I'm going to go over in a second. And injuries are possible, but it's far less than them just playing sports.

That's the basics of that study. If you want to read the whole thing, we'll have a link at the blog. Now I want to step away from the science. And talk about what I've been doing as I am doing strength and conditioning for nine year olds and also working with my 11 year old a little bit more in the garage gym than I used to.

So here are some considerations. Some of this pulled from the study too, but how I think about it. The first thing that you want to take into consideration. In my opinion, is just skill and coordination. That's the very first thing. That's why I think sports are so phenomenal for kids, whatever they're playing.

Getting them involved in flag football, getting them involved in gymnastics, soccer, football, like any tackle football, if you're into that kind of thing, whatever it is. I think that these can be great for your kids, just as like a foundational building block. Now, I don't know where my kids sports careers end.

Maybe it's in the next two years, maybe it's in 10 years, 15 years, I have no idea. But either way, playing sports early on gives them a great foundation. They're more coordinated. And they have skills. They know how to use their body. And they know how to move through space very well. I think that's, if we were layering a pyramid, that would be the base.

Is just being able to do, be good at those things. What I don't think is good, and what I have seen, is kids who are not involved in sports, maybe they're a little bit overweight, and their parents don't really know what to do, so they try to immediately jump into some sort of exercise program. And they're taking all this adult style knowledge and programming and trying to put it in on their kid, and I don't think that it's ever going to work.

And if you're listening to this and you're in that situation, I do have a little bit more for you, but I do think just getting involved in sports, even if they suck at the sport I, we, there's some kids on the team who are awesome, there's some on the kid, some kids on the team who aren't there, but they all get to practice, right?

If they don't get to play that's, whatever, but if they all get to practice they're moving their bodies, they're learning these skills, they're getting more coordinated, you have to know why you're there. That's a big reason my kids are there. My kids aren't there because I want them to be professional athletes or I care if they get scholarships or anything like that.

I just want physicality, pushing yourself, fitness in general to be part of my children's lives. That's why I push them to play sports and want them to play sports. Not like a lot of the other dads in My town where they absolutely think that their kid's going to be the next NFL quarterback, Tom Brady, whatever.

I could care less about all those things. I just want them to have healthy habits that are going to serve them for the rest of their life. And get your kid on a sports team. I highly encourage that. I just think that it's going to build up the skills that you need and the coordination that's required.

Step one. Step two. Now we can move to some sort of resistance training. My recommendation is to not add any instrument, any barbell, no kettlebell, nothing to a child for a long time. Then now this is my. My two cents. My kids, my boys are the only ones training with me at this point, nine and eleven.

They're not touching weights. I just, I don't see a need for it. I cannot touch weights and have a phenomenal program. I'm really not getting into weight training with my kids at this age. Could I? Probably. But I'm not going to do it. Just yet. I just don't think it's necessary. I think there's a lot more that they need to learn in utilizing their body.

Just actually being able to control the muscles in their body. And we can do a lot of that with body weight training. So that's what I'm focusing on with my kids right now. We'll do running, sprinting. jumping and we'll do bodyweight stuff. So when I say bodyweight stuff, I'll have them do air squats. I'll have them do push ups.

I'll have them do ring rows, pull ups, banded pull ups anything like that. We're just doing bodyweight stuff. And honestly, my kids are probably going to be stuck here for a few years, 11 year old, a little bit less than the nine year old. And this isn't super structured right now. I don't have we do this three times a week, four times a week.

This is just, we do this periodically because they already train enough in sports. I don't think they need a lot of extra stuff. But sometimes they're interested. I'm getting them into learning these things and these modalities. Now, that's my, again, moving away from science. Now, we get into, okay, My kids a little bit older, more advanced.

I want to get them into resistance training. That's where I'll be in stage three. So it's like skills and coordination. Then it's learning to utilize your own body weight as your resistance training, as your tool for getting stronger and faster, sprinting, running, those kinds of things. Now, if we move one tier above that.

Here are the actual suggested recommendations for youth athletes on a resistance training prescription for athletes. Now, the one thing they didn't truly give was an exact age. And so I'm thinking the study itself included people less than or equal to the age of 19. And then, so it goes down from there.

I'm thinking somewhere between 14, 15 to 19 is where you can start to get into the, this type of training. For a beginner, they said that you should only be having 1 to 2 resistance trainings, resistance training sessions per week for a beginner. The intensity shouldn't be more than 50 to 70 percent of the 1 rep max.

I don't even think you truly need to test a 1 rep max at this point. I think you could estimate it. There are a lot of great Calculators out of there out there that can estimate your one rep max. So you could lift a weight like, Hey, I lifted a hundred pounds for nine reps. It was hard. What do you calculate my one wrap one rep max to be?

Cause one of our max is really hard. I also think that takes like a certain level of fast Twitch and CNS involvement that. You don't need to necessarily get a brand new beginner into. So 50 to 70 percent of 1 rep max. The volume should be 1 to 2 sets, 12 to 15 reps, and the rest between the intervals be 1 to 2 minutes.

So that's the beginner. You can write all that down if you're looking to get your your kid, your youth athlete into training. Now, going from there, another level up would be intermediate. You're going to increase your frequency sessions per week from 2 to 3. Your intensity would be 70 to 85 percent of 1 rep max.

Your sets and reps would be 2 to 3 sets at 8 to 12 repetitions. And you would rest two to three minutes between sets. Now the more advanced athlete, and it's funny because they really fell right in line with just exact scientific, this is what it takes to get stronger literature for adults.

It's the same for children, youth. And that is two to three times per week, greater than 85 percent of your one rep max, three to five sets. Three to eight repetitions, and you rest three to four minutes between sets. So that's where, and that's the final tier, and that's where anybody listening to this could be, that's where I could be, that's where youth athletes could be once they become more advanced.

So I think that is a lot of what you could do if you're getting, you wanted to get your youth athlete into training, into doing things. But like I said, my take on all of this, a lot of what I'm doing with strength and conditioning, With my kids, my son's soccer team, who's only nine years old, we do jumping, we do sprinting, we do some bodyweight stuff, lunges, push ups, those kind of things.

I'm not going to get it more complicated than that, even though some people would like for me to get more complicated than that. They just don't need it. And what's crazy to see I started this last year, how rapidly they see results, how much quicker they become conditioned, how much quicker they become faster, more explosive, that how quickly they can get good at push ups.

It's really cool to see all of these things translate to their sport in a very fast manner. And it's nothing crazy. You don't have to get crazy with it. And I think that's about where, like I said, where I'll be. And I do think I'll do more episodes on this as I learn more, tease out. I'm always looking at literature on this now.

I want to make sure my kids are safe, but I'm also providing enough stimulus to where they're pushed because it's very different when If I had a 35 year old dude show up in my gym, Hey, I wanna push myself, let's go. That's gonna be different. I might make you throw up. I'm gonna, you wanna go hard, let's do it.

But that's because you're an adult. With my kids, I'm the exact opposite. The exact opposite of that. I don't want them to have any bad experiences that make them not love fitness. I don't want to hurt them. I don't want to injure them. I don't want to push anyone too far. If I would just feel like a complete failure if my kid ever got rhabdo or anything like that because of me pushing them through something.

So we just don't do it. A lot of times my 11 year old from what we have done, he's sometimes he's sore. Sometimes he's not. Sometimes it felt like a hard workout. Sometimes it didn't. A lot of times it didn't. And again, that's just because I'm trying to get them to utilize their body. And so it's a very slow approach, but I think it's Overall, it's working and it's working pretty well.

So these are all my thoughts mixed in with some science there. If you're interested in hearing more about this kind of stuff, let me know as my kids get older and I do train them more and try to help them get better at the sports that they've elected to pursue. I definitely want to help them train and become better conditioned as much as I can and report to all the garage team athletes out there what I'm doing.

Would also love to hear from anybody in the community. If you are a part of garage team athlete, just throw it in the community chat. If you've got kids, something you've been doing, would love to hear that as well. This all is a big experiment and what I've learned from looking at the the research is I can tell that people in general are just scared of the topic.

Some of our best studies come from the 70s and 80s. There aren't a ton of studies on it where people are putting in really good prescriptions and most of the time everyone's a little bit timid here. And I'm not saying we should push our kids harder. I'm just saying it's not as studied as it can be.

And like I mentioned towards the beginning, it's because also Youth athletes are hard to tackle down, right? Like they're rapidly growing, their hormones are changing. It's very hard to know what's causing the change, but I do think that we can help our children get better. And ultimately what we want and what I want for my kids has nothing to do with being the fastest, being the strongest, being an NFL player, playing in college.

I don't care about any of that stuff. All I want for them is a life. Long love of fitness, like I have and have had for over 20 years, being able to push yourself, enjoying sweating, being okay with being uncomfortable, having a healthy relationship with your body, with food, with movement. These are the only things I want for my children.

And so those are the things that I'm trying to instill each and every single day and not trying to make them turn into the next professional athlete. So that's it. Those are all my thoughts on this one. Would love to hear from the community on what you got. If you do want to be a part of the community, you're not already go to garagegymathlete.

com sign up for a trial. We would love to have you in the community for all of our athletes out there doing awesome things. Thank you so much for sticking around and for being awesome for doing the training and making the community what it is. That's all I've got for this one. Remember, if you don't kill comfort will kill you.

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