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Old 2 April 2014, 15:32
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Question Teen Strength Training

I have a 13 year old 7th grader who is starting to hit the gym with me. We have a home built gym that we use about 3-4 nights a week right now. He is a D/O lineman and basketball player and currently sits at 6’2” 211 pounds and wears size 14 basketball shoes. He is a really big kid that is decently strong with a large frame/ bone structure and well into puberty.

Right now he is lifting “heavy” (~ 70-80% of max) with low reps (4-5). We did spend about 6 weeks with very low weight helping him with form and posture although he still wobbles a bit under heavy loads (and this does concern me). Typical upper body routines include flat bench, incline, sand bag push-presses, bent-over rows and pushups as well as some punching bag work. Lower body is a mix of traditional deadlift, trap-bar deadlift, box jumps with Bulgarian bags and various lunges, squat thrusts and burpees. He also pushes my little Nissan around a parking lot once a week or throws the sandbag around the yard for a few laps (yes- neighbors think we are weirdos, when asked my son simply tells them he is in trouble for eating all of my food). We are also starting to incorporate very light weight clean and jerk movements/ training mainly for form work and fun.

I know there are some real fitness gurus on here so I was looking for some feedback. I have never trained with someone this young and I am concerned we are doing a bit much or maybe just the wrong type of exercises for what we are trying to achieve (explosive power that’s “functional”). Plus there appears to be significant confusion and controversy per allowing young teens to lift “heavy” so thoughts on that are also welcomed.

This is all really being pushed by my son oddly enough (although he loves his X-box and airsoft time too). I just want to make sure we do this smartly without hurting him and help him reach his goals.
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Old 2 April 2014, 16:11
Crucible guy Crucible guy is offline
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My input will be somewhat different than I expect you will get from others, but I have made this observation over the last 36 years of lifting.

Make sure it is fun for your son and he is always the driving force. You can help him but he needs to be the one pushing. I started lifting at 14 and I did it because I wanted to. Everyone I have known who had some outside source as a motivator - stopped when that motivator was gone. To include my own son who lifted ungodly amounts of weights in college as a scholarship athlete, and now does not enjoy lifting at all because of his college lifting. I know 20-30 other college football players that had incredible talent and played great ball, and now refuse to pick up a weight because they aren't getting "paid for it."

Next - as I see you are, be cautious and smart. The gains he makes will shape his body type permanently and the injuries he incurs will haunt him for just as long. Make sure he has a reason to go heavy and does it smartly, and he has definite periods of building and recovery.

I would lastly recommend that you look hard at body weight exercise days and periods to incorporate the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) type training with bodyweight exercises. He should know that as he gets older the injuries can overwhelm the strength and he will need to be able to workout to live and not just to get strong.

CG
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Old 2 April 2014, 16:25
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I would lastly recommend that you look hard at body weight exercise days and periods to incorporate the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) type training with bodyweight exercises. He should know that as he gets older the injuries can overwhelm the strength and he will need to be able to workout to live and not just to get strong.

CG
For explosive / Useful strength.. I would recommend:

1. lots of body weight stuff - pushups pull ups dips
2. Resistance band training - High rep compound movement
3. Cardio - jump rope, running, boxing - maybe you could get some focus mits and hit some combos with him? I bet that would be a really fun father / son activity
4. Only real "weight lifting" dumbell presses, clean and jerks, squats, olympic lifts - the power / explosive stuff. Just laying there benching a bunch of weight in my humble experience as a Muay Thai coach just makes people heavy and slow. Hitting hard is impact force - that's mass x acceleration. You won't get acceleration doing bench presses.

Make sure to work the little muscles - esp at his age he's going to need them. Get one of those half balance balls things for him to stand on while he does his bicep curls. Incorporate as much balance work as possible.

Take him to a hot room yoga class. (1) its a really tough workout that will help stretch him out and pull together a good workout program and (2) he can stare at all the hot asses in yoga pants.

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Old 2 April 2014, 19:03
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The only thing I can add with all that power and explosiveness, is there needs to be a check and balance system in place.

Yes at 13 hell even at the age of 30 its a hard pill to swallow but stretching and not just your typical 5 min cool down stretch I mean real flexibility will go a long way on the stress on the skeletal and muscle system he is placing on himself.

I think someone mentioned Yoga and I STRONGLY agree with that. To have the ability to break up scar tissue and bring in new blood to repair the stress done on his muscular system is key. He will be stronger, faster, lighter, and less prone to injury.

Hell I can barely touch my toes and it use to be funny once upon a time but now its just sad. And now at the age of 30 I am going back to learn how to build flexibility to fight off arthritis,cartilage wear and tear from all the years of abuse and not taking the time to stay fluid and working on ligaments in a none stressful manner to save its longevity.

Last tip I also encourage a deep tissue massage once a week or so either done by a family member or professional bought. If nothing else buy the kid a damn foam roller and make it just as important as his hard work outs. Anything to break up scar tissue and break up fibers to release new blood to the muscle so it can become stronger. If not several years down the road he will be walking around all locked up with an ass load of muscle injuries (tendinitis being the main culprit)
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Old 3 April 2014, 11:59
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This is excellent information, thank you gentlemen.

I have been wanting to get serious about both stretching (we only do about 10 minutes worth after work outs) and balance. I have tried to get him to do some martial arts classes at the local club simply for flexibility and balance but he refuses. He says the kids that take Karate or Taekwondo are laughing stocks at his school. Wife tried to sell him on dance but that was a non-starter as well. Not sure how he will feel about yoga, that might be a tough sell even with girls in yoga pants. Either way, it sounds like we need to get more serious about his flexibility, he is a horribly stiff kid prone to knee injuries.

In the game of football there is almost no way around the bench press. That is a standard lift that players are measured by, even in high school here. Although we have been working with focus mits and pushups and his explosiveness has improved dramatically since we started that routine. I like the idea of resistance bands as well.


Again, great input. We are definitely going to adjust fire to incorporate some of the ideas above, especially the stretching and HIIT.
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Old 3 April 2014, 15:40
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At 13 isn't there something called growth plates you need to be aware of?
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Old 3 April 2014, 18:13
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Herschel Walker did 1500 pushups a day……everyday. Never lifted a weight.

I once had the opportunity to speak with local legend Bobby Valentine (the baseball manager) on this topic. Besides being a great ball player, Bobby was a hell of a running back in high school and had scholarship offers from all the big time colleges (USC, ND, etc) to play football.

He said he did the same thing growing up, lots of pushups, ‘head ups’ as he called them (hand stand presses against a wall) and a lot of running etc.

I think we as Americans get to caught up in pushing heavy weights in one ‘plane’ of movement. (bench press, squats) and as a result, a lot of these kids have trouble handling their own bodyweight (unless they’re playing a lot of hoop). They can’t do basic gymnastic movements (cartwheels, walk on your hands, rope climb, etc). It’s that kind of ‘skill’ exercise that will develop overall athleticism and ‘useful’ strength.

The Olympic lifts (with proper technique) are something I would recommend too. Develops explosiveness, speed, strength, power and stamina.
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Old 3 April 2014, 19:45
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Old 3 April 2014, 20:00
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At 13 isn't there something called growth plates you need to be aware of?
Absolutely. We have spoken to his physician and researched quite a bit online. There seems to be several schools of thought but what I am reading indicates that this may not be the case. There are several medical journals that are saying lifting weights in early teen age years (even heavy) is really beneficial with no risk to stunting growth. Others do disagree.

He is a really big kid and his doc is confident that he will be fine. Doctor is predicting 6'5" - 6'7" at full growth and somewhere between 260-280 lbs. My larger concern for his growth is the accutane we have him on for his severe acne.
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Old 4 April 2014, 10:08
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Here is a great philosophy for long term athletic development that is highly recommended by my Chiropractor.

http://canadiansportforlife.ca/learn...fe/ltad-stages
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Old 4 April 2014, 11:15
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Look into "Starting Strength." Good program from Mark Rippetoe. I've used it to train a lot of beginning athletes. Oh...and if you use SS, please kindly ignore Rip's advice on the power clean...his lifting schedule is great, but his description of the power clean is...something else. Just look elsewhere for advice on how to do the lift properly. I can recommend some good resources.
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Old 4 April 2014, 16:01
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I would look at mobilityWOD for proper stretching techniques and he has some good points on form for strength training and weight lifting.
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Old 4 April 2014, 17:11
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Honestly dancing is awesome for developing speed, timing, and balance. Plus it helps with the opposite sex - a lot. I was very unhappy my parents sent me to ballroom dancing lessons - that is until my dance partner that night gave me my first kiss while waiting for our parents to pick us up.

Finding the right yoga class is very important. Look for Bikram hot room yoga classes. If he complains (before trying it) tell him that if he can do the whole class, all the poses, without stopping / running out / taking child's pose and still thinks its dumb you won't ever make him go back.

When I went to my first yoga class I was training for a fight, peak physical condition, and I had to run out of that room to puke my guts out. It is serious no joke difficult training - esp when he learns the harder poses. The results are awesome as well. My balance improved by leaps and bounds as with my flexibility. Keep in kind I was a gymnast for years and years when younger and even though I'm only 5'5'' I can kick a 6 foot person in the head so saying it was able to improve my balance and flexibility is saying a lot.

Further I really believe it heals me. If I've had a really rough week sparring in the gym and go in limping I feel like I come out healed. I don't really get into the humming and the nameste stuff but I can say with 100% conviction yoga has made me a much better fighter.

And I've met a bunch of hot girls who come up to me after class and tell me my tattoos are really hot and they are super impressed with my ability ;-)

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Old 5 April 2014, 16:13
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Yoga is no joke.
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Old 5 April 2014, 21:03
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Yoga is no joke.
No shit. Hardest workout I've ever started, damn it hurts.

I'm the only guy in my yoga class. It's worse than it sounds.
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Old 5 April 2014, 22:13
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I will add on for YOGA as well.

You don't even need to pay for a class to get benefits. You can easily find a 10$ yoga dvd at target/wally world. Throw that on and do 20min worth after a workout or 1-2x a week do a full session of 45-60min

Make sure he gets 1-2 rest days a week, if only 1 rest day make sure another day is "active recovery"; some light cardio, game of basketball, swimming, bike ride through the woods, trail run etc...


Also, I firmly believe in functional fitness and avoiding bodybuilding style workouts. Keep it compound, and train the body as a unit- not individual body parts. You can split it into upper body days/ lower body days but never should you train "shoulders" or "arms" "chest" individually as that is not how the body functions.
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Old 6 April 2014, 05:57
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Hummmm by a $10 DVD and do yoga alone at home, or pay a few dollars extra and see hot chicks in yoga pants... Know how I know you're gay?
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Old 6 April 2014, 07:57
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Also, I firmly believe in functional fitness and avoiding bodybuilding style workouts. Keep it compound, and train the body as a unit- not individual body parts. You can split it into upper body days/ lower body days but never should you train "shoulders" or "arms" "chest" individually as that is not how the body functions.
Never? I believe in a more holistic training approach, but this old wives tales need to be put to bed. If you have compound exercises as the basis of your training, you can split the body into any groupings you want and still be "functional". His function is to play football or whatever sport he's involved in. Practice keeps him functionable in that sport.

Additionally, never ignores the fact that most people are going to have natural imbalances or more dominate areas and focusing on one area can help dramatically improve it and reduce the chances of injury.

As to the original topic, I suggest that every athlete should invest some serious time into sprints.
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Old 6 April 2014, 09:18
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Never? I believe in a more holistic training approach, but this old wives tales need to be put to bed. If you have compound exercises as the basis of your training, you can split the body into any groupings you want and still be "functional". His function is to play football or whatever sport he's involved in. Practice keeps him functionable in that sport.

Additionally, never ignores the fact that most people are going to have natural imbalances or more dominate areas and focusing on one area can help dramatically improve it and reduce the chances of injury.

As to the original topic, I suggest that every athlete should invest some serious time into sprints.
+1. I'm a functional guy myself.

Isolation training is more of a bodybuilding thing and doesn't translate into sports all that well (I can't think of a sport that requires being strong at preacher curls...arm wrestling maybe?), but it damn sure can help you get some lagging areas caught up.

I grew up throwing hay bales and never had an issue with strong arms/shoulders. I didn't have trouble throwing a ball hard. Got to college and injured my shoulder. The cause? The muscles/tendons/ligaments in the front of my shoulder were WAY stronger than the ones in my rear delts. They put a lot of force going in one direction with not much on the back end to handle the slow down. It took an entire off-season of a lot of rear-delt work to get things more equalized.

There's a place for everything. Never say never. It's all about finding the right balance.
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Old 6 April 2014, 18:51
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Drive to the school parking lot, put the car in neutral, and have him push it as hard as he can back and forth. Bring his buds and have some fun competitions. Will develop leg drive, shoulder and back strength, stamina, and good drive blocking skills.
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