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When Should Young Athletes Introduce Weight Lifting?

Bryan Schwebke of Paramount Performance PT joins SoccerParenting.com for a discussion about young athletes and what is best for them in terms of when to introduce weight lifting to their athletic regimen.


Welcome to Soccer Parenting. I'm excited to be joined here by Brian Schwepke for another breakaway interview. Today, we're talking about kids and lifting. So, Brian, when should kids start getting to the gym? When should they introduce weight lifting into part of their athletic regiment?

Well, that's the million-dollar question, right? I mean, I get asked that all the time. I think the answer is now. I mean, no matter what age you're at, I think you can start introducing weight lifting to some extent. The problem is you have to change your definition of weightlifting. So, if you're considering weightlifting to mean that you're going in and you're picking up heavy weights and you're going to pick things up and put things down, then the answer changes quite a bit. I think introducing the movement patterns that are the base movements for lifting is the most important thing. So, you can take fifth graders and sixth graders and get them into a gym and start teaching them how to do that stuff so that you build the proper movement patterns so that when you do start adding weight to them and stressing their body, they're ready to compensate it.

They're ready to tolerate that load in a correct way. The problem is that we run into these issues where kids introduce weight lifting either with their friends in a gym without supervision, or in high school when they're just being thrown a workout program with poor supervision and people who aren't really very qualified to supervise, and we just find a way to get through it. We work hard, we lift the heavy weights, but we're setting ourselves up for problems in the long run. When it comes to really adding weight and stress to the body, 13's a pretty good number to go around. The body, for females, they're starting to become pretty developed at the time, for males, as well. And you do want to introduce some weight, even at a very low intensity, just so that their body starts absorbing some of that. But I probably wouldn't start them lifting any kind of heavy weight below 13.

And the other problem is, when it comes to introducing weight lifting, I think you need to be very smart about who you're working with. We are in a society where we think about cost and we think about how the kid feels after they're done working out. So, if I can pay $5 to put my son in a bootcamp versus a hundred dollars to have him with a physical therapist or a very high level trainer, and if my kid comes home and he is like, "Oh, I feel like I'm going to throw up," versus, "I don't really feel like I worked out super hard, but I'm a little sore from it." We need to get away from that mindset. Boot camps are not the way that these kids should be trained in HB training where they're learning how to do things correctly, where we focus on quality over quantity. We can always add the quantity part to it later on once they're developed.

No, that's a great answer. We do have this mentality a lot about more is more, less is not more.


And as we're having to rethink the way that we support our children, our young athletes, especially as we're seeing so many injuries and so many issues in youth sports these days, I think it's important for parents to understand that.

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Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com
Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.