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Thread: Starting Strength for Kids

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Default Starting Strength for Kids

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    Hi Coach,

    I've read what has been written in Starting Strength about training children for strength.
    I have an 11 yo son at 70-lb who asked me about a month ago to train him. He has always been one of the smaller kids in his class and he's not had much of an appetite.

    He's currently training MWF with his "A" training consisting of Squats, Bench and Dead. His "B" training is Squats, Press and Pullups with A & B alternating.

    His squat currently is 65-lb, bench 47-lb and dead 115-lb. His press is 27-lb and he is doing 5 sets of 3- pullups.

    His progression on squats has been a 2-lb increase each session while we focussed on his form but now we have increased to 5-lb per session. His deadlift is increased 5-lb per session and his bench and his press are increasing at 2-lb per session.

    His deadlift is starting to get quite hard for him. His deadlift to BW ratio is 1.6.

    I think he could hit 2X BW in the deadlift by the end of this year and stay injury free.

    I would like to start him on cleans but I don't feel confident to teach him although I've got the SS DVD and I myself do cleans in my program.

    Part of his training also has consisted of him reading and discussing your book Strong Enough and watching the SS dvd.

    Should I slow down his increases on his lifts being that he is pre-adolescent and does not have the testosterone and growth hormone increases yet?

    In your opinion is his program adequate or would you change the frequency or exercise routine?

    BTW, he really enjoys lifting weights

    Thank you in advance for your advice.

  2. #2
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    Why does an 11-year-old kid need to be "trained"? Does he have no other physical outlets that are more fun for an 11-year-old? I feel very strongly that kids should PLAY and not train. Show him how to throw dirt clods and build forts. There will be time for this shit when he reaches Tanner stage 4.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Having worked with gymnasts and acrobats/contortionists of this age and up for years, I say its likely he IS having fun.

    Throw some handstand training into his programming.

  4. #4
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    May 2011
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    My son is 9 and not interested in lifting despite learning the SS lifts and having decent form. But because of American Ninja Warrior he loves chin ups. During a pause in the show he and his little sister will run upstairs to the chin up bar to knock out a few, then discuss whether they would be able to do the competition.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Why does an 11-year-old kid need to be "trained"? Does he have no other physical outlets that are more fun for an 11-year-old? I feel very strongly that kids should PLAY and not train. Show him how to throw dirt clods and build forts. There will be time for this shit when he reaches Tanner stage 4.
    Coach,

    For some kids, lifting isn't a matter of training for some other activity. It happens to be a fun activity they enjoy.

    I started my son lifting over a year and a half ago when he was 12. We previously had him involved in team sports and outdoor activities since he was in preschool, but he is the kid who is weak, slow, noncompetitive and painfully uncoordinated. As he hit middle school we let him drop team sports, but we insisted that he participate in a regular sports or fitness activity. He gravitated towards a running club and weight lifting. Strength training has taught him discipline and helped his confidence, posture and coordination.

    Like the OP, my son is doing squats, deads, bench, press and chins. We haven't added cleans. In contrast to the OP, we haven't been focused on adding 2 pounds every workout, just proper form and incremental improvements on reps and/or weight at a pace that gives my son regular improvements over the long haul. Adding 2 pounds per workout/3 days per week adds up very fast for an 11 year old--that is a pace of over 300 pounds in a year which clearly isn't sustainable.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoAteOurMonkey View Post
    Coach,

    For some kids, lifting isn't a matter of training for some other activity. It happens to be a fun activity they enjoy.

    ..... In contrast to the OP, we haven't been focused on adding 2 pounds every workout, just proper form and incremental improvements on reps and/or weight at a pace that gives my son regular improvements over the long haul. Adding 2 pounds per workout/3 days per week adds up very fast for an 11 year old--that is a pace of over 300 pounds in a year which clearly isn't sustainable.
    Then for him, it is play. You have correctly observed that strength training at 11 cannot really occur, so your approach is fine, as long as he enjoys it.

  7. #7
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    I agree with Coach Rip. We (my wife and I) learned the hard way with our oldest son, who is now 19 and in college. We pushed him too hard too early in life and, while he did do awesome in wrestling-winning his first state championship in his weight class in his freshman year-and lettering in football, he ended up getting burned out by the time he was a senior. I have 2 other sons, ages 11 and 7, who participate in some sport pretty much year round. I am now an older and (hopefully) wiser dad who, while still promoting their participation in sports, lets them have fun while competing. The serious stuff comes later and there will be time to prepare for it.
    I lift at home and many times they will go into my workshop and talk with me while I'm training. They ask questions about what I'm doing and I show them by having them do the lift on an old 25 lb 1" standard bar that my wife used to use. But I don't push. That will come later when they are ready.

  8. #8
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    Aug 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Then for him, it is play. You have correctly observed that strength training at 11 cannot really occur, so your approach is fine, as long as he enjoys it.
    Does pre-puberty strength training have any impact on ultimate adult strength potential? What about during puberty? In other words, if a pubescent or pre-pubescent child undergoes strength training does that training give the body a reason to grow more during the puberty phase than otherwise would have happened,to the point where as an adult that child will be stronger than if the child only trained as an adult? Terrible wording, hopefully clear enough.

  9. #9
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    We've discussed this before. Search for "Bulgarian weightlifting team 1980s"

  10. #10
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    Dec 2010
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    starting strength coach development program
    It's not fun being the little kid that gets picked last and picked on by the bigger kids.

    You could wait until they are in their mid teens but the damage could be done by then.

    Spending time with dad lifting weights is good as long as you don't turn into a wannabe Bulgarian coach.

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