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Tiny Toddler Terminators: How Young Is Too Young For Weight Training?
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Tiny Toddler Terminators: How Young is Too Young for Weight Training?

Gyms and health clubs are all over the United States but if your image of the people who are coming in record numbers are 30 somethings, heading in to get a little bit of sweating in before going home for the day, you are off by at least two decades. The fastest growing demographic in the fitness club industry are the youth memberships which have jumped by nearly three percentage points in the last five years. Memberships for kids ages 6-11 have doubled since 2005. Kids, some as young as two, are starting to bulk up, sometimes even before they are out of diapers.

Not every kid has what it takes to become a dedicated, champion body builder, but those that do may find that youth competitions are all about prestige and little else. The cost of competing at the youth level can be out of many parent’s budgets with little to no prize money awarded. And, just like the adults, the kids are subjected to drug testing to make sure that they are not getting help by the use of any of the banned substances.

In addition to the cost, there is another problem with the youth body building world- overzealous parents. Coaches dread seeing the guy who could have been a champion or the guy who has no concept of nutrition or safe training because those are the guys who are most likely to push their kid into an injury or to push their kid right out of competition in the first place. Nutrition is vitally important for youth body builders, not only so that they can grow their muscles but for the normal growing that their young bodies need to do. And, because they are still growing, they are at higher risk for injuries to their body if their lifting technique is not spot on perfect.

At Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, studies have shown that nearly half of all weight training injuries happen in the 13-24 year old age category. Kids in the twelve and under category are more likely to have lacerations, fractures and to have equipment fall on them as well.

Experts say that it is important to learn safe training techniques for your child and to require adult supervision whenever they are in the weight training room. In some fitness clubs and gyms, there is an age limit, preventing kids below a certain age from working out with the weights or machines. In others, there is a limit but kids can take a weight training course and then be allowed in with supervision. Every club has different rules, most frequently based on their insurance coverage.

Some parents have weight training equipment in their home and may encourage their kids to use it for exercise, but again, it is important to use safe techniques and to make sure that the kids are always supervised when the machines are in use.


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