I am sure you remember people saying that lifting weights when you are a kid would “stunt your growth.” I can think back to being a kid wanting to pick up some weights to pack on some size, and having this irrational fear of ending up looking like a mix between Hercules and Danny DeVito. In 2001, the American Academy of pediatrics finally reversed it’s outdated stance on the weightlifting for children and updated it with something that was more along the lines of common sense. Many of us, myself included were unaware of this change in position almost 15 years ago. Though they still discourage competitive weightlifting and bodybuilding for young children, they do acknowledge the many benefits that lifting weights can have.
Lifting weights is great for general fitness, improving health, rehabilitating or preventing injuries, improving sport performance and also boosting self esteem. Their policy also makes it very clear that weightlifting does not stunt your growth, contribute to high blood pressure, or decrease your cardiovascular fitness ability.
Granted no one wants their child to get injured, letting them toss around a 5 pound weight (or one they can use, perfect form for 10-12 reps when they are a little older), with a little guidance really can’t hurt, unless they drop it on their toes, that is. My daughter has always been interested in, and fascinated by the weights I have displayed in our garage. On numerous occasions she has asked to show off a few reps to prove how strong she is. Even in these brief moments you can see her smile from ear to ear as her confidence is beaming, showing dad just how strong she is. The day that she did a sumo deadlift with my 53 pound kettlebell not only showed me the strength she has, but showed me that this kid could be an Olympic lifter one day with ease!
One of the more interesting selections of the academy’s guidelines was the evaluation of a strength training program for kids. They suggest that a general strengthening program should address all major muscle groups and exercise through the complete range of motion. If that doesn’t sound like kettlebell training, I don’t know what does. Before I started with kettle bells I thought I was strong. Quickly I was humbled with my ideas about how much I could lift and for how long. Since then, not only has my strength improved but also my cardiovascular endurance. I think that if any fitness program is developed for kids it would be one that is fun and functional fitness that takes the entire range of motion into consideration. Strength, cardio, and have it finished before the child’s mind loses interest. Kettlebells. I’m not saying to put your child on a weight lifting regimen, I am merely suggesting that if they show an interest in lifting weights, male or female, why not encourage it and guide them along on the path of good health and physical fitness?
Lifting weights is something that I never would have imagined that I would fall in love with. It’s a blessing to be able to share that passion with my family. I can’t think of any better workout partner then my daughter. She loves to jump rope, do jumping jacks, and do these sumo deadlifts with her favorite monkey faced kettlebell. Afterwords she likes to compare muscles with dad. Together we create a fun and functional work out that involves us both. Afterwards she likes to grab us both water bottles, wrestle and horseplay a little bit, and cool down by watching her favorite combat sports athlete, Ronda Rousey. I will support her interests though it all, from playing with dolls to learning arm-bars, I’m just stoked she still likes hanging out with dad. Anything that brings us closer together, I am all for it. The confidence, the fitness, the strength, those are all bonuses of the special time we get to spend together working out.
So to put the misinformation that I still hear so frequently to rest, lifting weights does a lot more good than harm for both you and your child. Kettlebells especially aren’t just functional and effective, but they are fun and build strength and confidence throughout the entire body. As a parent I know that anything that makes our kids feel good about themselves and makes them healthier in the process in a positive way is all right with me.