At what Age can My Child go to the Gym?

At what age can my child go to the gym? An expert explains it. Father as a role model: When dad swings the dumbbells in the gym, the kids often want to do the same. But when does that actually make sense?

Children have no place in the gym; the owners usually don’t let them into the gym until they are 16 years old at the earliest. But does that mean we have to generally ban weight training for young people? Or can strength training even be beneficial for child development?


How does targeted strength training affect children?

“I think strength training is fundamentally very useful as a form of stress for the child’s organism because muscles and bones are strengthened, and physical strength and motor skills are improved overall. If the training is carried out appropriately for the respective biological age, you can’t actually develop a better motor foundation for a sporty and healthy life, I would say. This is particularly important today because a recent study has found that today’s youth are physically weaker than previous generations and are therefore more susceptible to dynapenia, i.e., loss of muscle strength. Persistent deterioration of muscular strength and fitness can have significant public health consequences in the form of premature mortality.”

Are there other benefits children can get from strength training?

“In addition to the physiological effects of strength training just mentioned, I would also address the psychological benefits of strength training. Strength training and the resulting physical changes in the sense of more muscularity and more physical strength have a variety of positive effects on a child’s mental state. Keeping up better in school physical education lessons is a logical consequence of regular strength training. As a result, this also has psychological effects that can certainly increase self-esteem. I think it is very important to mention in this context that children can gain self-confidence through strength training.”

At what age can my child go to the gym


At what age can children do strength training?

“When you look at children climbing somewhere on the playground, you have to be clear that this is exactly strength training. This means that children, basically from birth, use their heaviest body part, the head, to move the back and neck muscles up and down, doing maximum strength training. When children climb, jump, and run around, it’s all strength training! Even when children start sprinting, it’s strength training. I don’t think many people are aware that strength training doesn’t just mean sitting around on some equipment in a closed gym; it’s basically every muscular contraction that I sometimes do in everyday life or in sports. My two sons are still too young for the gym now, but if “the two of them are slowly becoming teenagers and are interested in strength training, I will give them a very thorough introduction and support them in their training regularly.” By the way: The best tips for building muscle quickly

Can strength training replace the positive effects of a team sport, such as social development and teamwork?

“Of course, training in the gym is a completely different matter than team training. However, one should not generalize that team sports are, in any case, better for the physical and psychological development of children than targeted strength training in the gym.

Together with my American work colleague, I showed my friend Avery Faigenbaum in a scientific article that strength training can be an effective training method for young people.

I would like to explain this with an example: Imagine an overweight boy who can’t last 5 minutes on the treadmill or on the soccer field but is knocked out after 2 minutes and is laughed at by the other children.

If you put the boy on the leg press instead, he will quickly notice, Wow, there is a lot of strength in my thighs, because thick thighs don’t just mean fat, but also a lot of muscles.Fascinated by his strength in his legs, the boy continues to train with motivation and builds up muscles. And if you build muscle, you burn fat.

The boy gradually becomes sporty and confident, and he can also compete better in team sports. I think the example is very nice because it shows that children can achieve success in different ways and that it is worth looking at the child’s situation individually.”

Which form of strength training is recommended for children?

“Here, you have to make it very clear that children are not mini-adults. Children have this instinct to play; children want to be stimulated somewhere, so as a trainer, you also have to think about how you can incorporate strengthening exercises into your training.

Because if you… If the child is given the dull task of doing 100 push-ups, then he or she will not feel like doing it. However, if strength exercises are integrated into the game, such as in a running game, where the person who starts has to do 10 push-ups before he can continue running and himself “Freed by this, children have a different incentive for strength training.

Only in their youth, from the age of 12, when their body awareness is more mature and perhaps there is a little more discipline and understanding, would I continue with programmed strength training using dumbbells and equipment.”

What about weight training, can you advise young people to do it?

“Absolutely. Always under the condition of supervision. But, to be honest, I would recommend a coach for any sport. With football or boxing, you are not just sent off but first given technical instructions. It should be the same with dumbbell training; then, “Training with free weights is also ideal for young people.

That’s why I think an age limit in the gym is total nonsense. Instead of an age limit, the monitoring and programming of the training should be adjusted so that training is risk-free for everyone.”

Which strength exercises are particularly suitable for children?

“I cannot agree with the widespread myth that bodyweight exercises are better for children than dumbbell and machine exercises. In reality, an overweight boy of 12 who is already relatively tall is probably He can’t do a single pull-up and runs the risk of injuring himself in trying to do it.

Instead, I would put him on the lat pull-down, where he can perform the exercise in a controlled manner with a straight spine and a significantly lighter weight. That’s why you should avoid categorical statements like ‘Children and young people should only train with their body weight’.

Likewise, you shouldn’t state categorically that it is better to start with strength training with equipment. If your physiological state allows it, you can do so under constant pressure If a coach corrects you, you can start training with free weights straight away.”

What can be the consequences of too little strength training for children?

“Possible effects include, among other things, the increased risk of dynapenia, i.e., a lack of muscle strength, which is actually only known from old age. This disease can actually manifest itself in children and then run through the entire school and sports years.

Affected children They often just sit on the bench during school sports lessons because they are afraid of not being able to keep up. They are also not active in the club, and so on and so forth.

Too little exercise and too little muscular activity are also highly associated with various non-contagious diseases, such as diabetes (especially type 2), cardiovascular diseases, and, of course, obesity. These negative effects can be specifically counteracted through muscle training at an early age.”

Doesn’t targeted strength training stop children’s natural urge to move?

“No, it doesn’t. It depends on how skillfully you combine strength training with playful exercises. In practice, it makes no sense to force a passionate ball athlete to use training equipment and thus deprive him of the joy of playing ball.

Instead For example, you combine passing exercises with strength exercises and do a squat jump after every second pass, and you have strength training integrated.

In the end, it’s all a question of didactics as to how you cleverly incorporate strength exercises, because strength training is much more than being able to lift a dumbbell in such a diverse way.”

What role does the flood of information about fitness on social media play for children? Is this helpful or counterproductive?

“As always with the Internet, this is both a blessing and a curse. Thanks to the Internet, fitness has become much more accepted by the population than was the case 20 to 30 years ago, when there were far fewer people in the gym than today.

Me It is good that the fitness community on the Internet is growing, but there are also dangers that are closely linked to the increasing interest in fitness. Unfortunately, as always, there are people on the Internet who do not have good intentions and, when in doubt, just turn to you to enrich the increasing interest in fitness by spreading half-truths or selling sometimes nonsensical nutritional supplements. That’s the other side of the coin.

The only thing that helps is to seek advice from trained experts, such as the personal trainer in the gym or the sports teacher at school.”

Conclusion: Strength training strengthens your child’s health and fitness

Stephan Geisler’s expert opinion on provides clarity around the myths surrounding At what age can my child go to the gym. So remember the following: Your child won’t break their bones by doing strength training. No, rather, it lays the foundation for a healthy life. However, whether this takes place in the gym or on the playground on the horizontal bar is your decision.


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