The value of one on one sessions with kids

August 18, 2009

I take group training for kids aged 8-12 which mainly includes games and fun circuit based exercises with basic equipment. When you have a group of kids in a resistance based circuit it’s hard to find time to help every out and get them doing things right. Kids between the ages of 8-12 do tend to have a fairly short attention span and by the time they’ve done one or two circuits they’ll start to misbehave. So in a group it’s a tough job to teach everything you want to for each individual as they’re all at different stages of learning and maturity levels.

You may think that all kids love games and all kids want to play with balls and run in the park but this isn’t always the case.

You shouldn’t under estimate the importance of proper training in a safe environment.

  • You have the right equipment to monitor improvements
  • You can progressively overload what they are doing by increase speed, incline, reps, resistance etc.
  • They are in a safe environment with good supervision and knowledge.
  • They often enjoy feeling like an adult. They want to do things that they don’t usually get a chance to do.

The benefits of a one on one session compared to a group session are:

  • The participant gets more guidance from the trainer
  • They can do more advanced exercises because of the increase time the trainer can spend with the individual.
  • Kids like to have your attention; they generally misbehave in a group situation to impress others or to get your attention.
  • They will learn alot more one on one compared to a group session because there are no other distractions.

Overall group training is good fun but kids love having role models and they can look up to the trainer. They want to have their attention and they also want to learn and become better at certain things whether it’s a sport or to just be fit and healthy. They love to try new things and tell their friends these cool things they did. I encourage parents to keep their kids active and get involved with some sort or program, sport, or just walking the family dog! It’s that simple. Just keep it simple and regular. After all, parents are the ones in control of their children. If you teach them early on to exercise regularly they are more likely to get involved with physical education and grow up to be fit and healthy.

Tell me which of these sounds better to you..

Healthy kid who exercised regularly by walking the dog and going for runs on the beach or playing sport in the backyard who grows up fit and healthy and leads a healthy lifestyle because of his childhood experience of exercise.

OR

A kid who wasn’t bought up around exercise whether it be incidental or set execise like walking and playing sport therefore doesn’t enjoy physical education at school, often discludes themselves or gets in trouble. Grows up overweight leading to poor mental and social wellbeing and bad lifestyles choices lead them into such problems as heart disease, stroke and other realted problems.

The message: It’s in your hands – it’s your call

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Sample programs for children aged 6-18 years

July 12, 2009

The Australia Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) have put together some sample programs designed for children and youth. Keep in mind that these are based on young athletes rather than children who don’t have a sporting background. It is not intended that these programs be the only programs allowable for children or youth to use and modifications to the programs will be required depending upon the individual characteristics of the children, training goals, available equipment, and training time. However, model program are developed to serve as useful examples from which individual specific training programs may be developed and employed. It is the position of the ASCA that all programs performed by children must be strictly coached by an adult and that the adult be accredited with at least a Level 1 ASCA Strength and Conditioning coaching accreditation and to coach youth in level 3 and 4 in the more complex lifts a coaching accreditation of at least a ASCA Level 2 would be required. Children need to receive comprehensive instruction on relevant safety issues prior to the commencement of training.

Level 1: 6-9 years

Level 1 programs are designed for young children 6 to 9 years of age or any older child who is just starting out in resistance training and conditioning. Appropriate programs involve modified body weight type exercises and light resistance work performed for relatively high repetitions e.g. 15+ reps. The goal over this period is to have the children become accustomed to regular training, develop basic fitness abilities such as strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, co-ordination and flexibility in a safe, low stress, fun environment. The specific muscular function goals during this period are:

1. Hover in a horizontal position with feet, elbows and forearms touching the ground and straight back position for 60 s.

2. Perform 10 well controlled back extensions to horizontal.

3. Perform 10 well controlled full range double leg squats with hands behind the head and feet flat on the floor.

4. Perform 10 well controlled push ups off their toes chest to touch the ground and arms achieve full extension.

5. Perform 5 well controlled lunges each leg with back knee touching the ground and good balance.

6. Wall squat at 90 degrees for 60 s.

7. Touch their toes in the sit and reach test.

A beginning program would comprise a basic 3 day per week circuit type whole body program performed on alternate days (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) of the following exercises:

Basic warm up (5 minute jog or cycle plus 2-3 minutes of dynamic stretching)

1. Step ups (both left and right legs) – 20 to 30 cm step or chair

2. Push ups (- off knees initially progressing onto toes as strength increases

3. Star jumps

4. Abdominal crunches – as strength increases progress towards bent legged sit ups

5. Chair dips – initially have legs close to the chair and use the legs and arms to raise the body as strength increases progressively move legs further away from the chair

6. 90 degree wall sit

7. Reverse back extensions

8. Hover – initially off knees progressing to toes

Cool down and stretch – (5 min jog or cycle and 5 minutes of stretching)

Progression:

Week 1: Perform 20 s of each exercise for as many controlled repetitions as possible followed by 40 s rest and then move onto the next exercise. Perform 1 circuit – total workout time approximately 25 minutes (including warm up and cool down). Once this circuit is comfortably achieved by the athlete progress onto stage 2.

Stage 2: Perform 30 s of each exercise for as many controlled repetitions as possible followed by 40 s rest and then move onto the next exercise. Perform 1 circuit – total workout time approximately 27 minutes (including warm up and cool down). Once this circuit is comfortably achieved by the athlete progress onto stage 3

Stage 3: Perform the same as stage 2 but repeat the circuit 2 times – total workout time approximately 38 minutes. Once this circuit is comfortably achieved by the athlete progress onto stage 4.

Stage 4: Perform 2 circuits but increase exercise time to 40 s per exercise with 50 s recovery -total workout time approximately 40 minutes. Once this circuit is comfortably achieved by the athlete progress onto stage 5.

Stage 5: Perform 2 circuits but increase exercise time to 50 s per exercise with 50 s recovery -total workout time approximately 43 minutes. Once this circuit is comfortably achieved by the athlete progress onto stage 6.

Stage 6: Perform 2 circuits but increase exercise time to 60 s per exercise with 60 s recovery -total workout time approximately 47 minutes. At this stage the athlete can keep the same circuit but try and increase the intensity of some of the exercises. For example, some options include:

> Increasing the step height for the step ups

> Push ups off toes rather than knees

> Progress from crunches to bent legged sit ups

> Chair dips performed with legs progressively further from the chair

> Hover off toes rather than off knees

Increase the intensity progressively by gradually including these changes. For example, initially the first 30 s of the hover may be performed off the toes with the remaining time off the knees etc. Conversely, there may be some particularly heavy children who are unable to perform 20 s of push ups off their knees and for these children modifications such as the performance of push up off a wall or bench will be initially more appropriate.

Over time, with continued adaptation, additional exercises may be added or substituted such as:

> Lying pull ups performed from under a small table or off a low bar (e.g. smith machine bar)

> Isolated DB exercises such as DB arm curls, triceps kickback, lateral raises

> Lunges

> DB Squats

> Normal back extensions instead of reverse back extension

However, in all cases workouts should be limited to 3 whole body routines per week performed on alternate days for a duration not exceeding 1 hour in total.

There are many variations that could be done to the above program. The use of time rather than a prescribed repetition number has been employed as it is often easier to co-ordinate and focus children, especially when in a small group, to a time of exercise rather than a repetition number. Have them focus on performing controlled repetitions rather than rush to get to a particular repetition number. Further, the above programs have been developed with minimal equipment requirements so that they may be adopted by the greatest number of children who may not have access to specialised resistance training equipment and can perform the exercises from home or in a school classroom.

Level 2: 9-12 years

At level 2 the programs begin to incorporate some free weights and machine weight exercises as well as body weight activities. Again it is essential that the programs adopted be strictly supervised by an adult with at least a Level 1 ASCA Strength and Conditioning accreditation and the machines used be an appropriate size for the children. A beginning program for level 2 would comprise a basic 3 day per week whole body program performed on alternate days (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) of the following exercises:

Basic warm up (5 minute jog or cycle plus 2-3 minutes of dynamic stretching)

1. Lunges (initially using body weight but progressing to include light dumbbells when appropriate)

2. Machine Leg Press

3. Barbell Bench Press

4. Wide Grip Lat Pull down to the Front

5. Dumbbell Row

6. Back Extensions

7. Triceps Pushdown

8. Dumbbell Arm Curl

9. Hanging Knee Raises

Cool down and stretch – 10 minutes

The repetition range is between 10 to 15-RM with a maximal loading of 60% of the 1-RM. Initially the program should commence with 1 set of each exercise with 1-2 minutes rest between exercises, progressively building up to 3 repeated sets with 1-2 minutes rest between sets, as the child advances and can readily tolerate the increased training volume.

The goal of the program is to progressively develop the physical capacities of the children to be capable of achieving the following list of physical competencies at the age of 12:

1. Satisfy the requirements for Level 2.

2. Hover in a horizontal position with feet, elbows and forearms touching the ground and straight back position for 90 s.

3. Perform 10 well controlled repetitions of barbell bench press using a load of 40% of body weight.

4. Perform 10 well controlled repetitions of dumbbell rowing using a load of 15% of body weight in each hand.

5. Perform 10 well controlled lying pull ups with legs out straight using underhand grip.

6. Perform 10 well controlled lunges each leg with back knee touching the ground and good balance holding a load of 10% of body weight in each hand

7. Reach 5 cm beyond their toes in the sit and reach test.

Level 3: 12-15 years

At level 3 the programs begin using progressively more free weight exercises but avoid complex lifts such as cleans, snatches, deadlifts and squats etc unless competent coaching is available from a coach with at least a Level 2 ASCA strength and conditioning accreditation. Again it is essential that the programs adopted be strictly supervised by an adult with at least a Level 1 ASCA Strength and Conditioning accreditation and the equipment used be an appropriate size for the children.

A beginning program for level 3 would comprise a basic 3 day per week whole body program performed on alternate days (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) of the following exercises:

Basic warm up (5 minute jog or cycle etc plus 2-3 minutes of dynamic stretching)

1. Front barbell squats

2. Step ups holding dumbbells

3. Barbell bench press

4. Chin ups – initially using a close grip and restricted range of motion but progressing to a full range of motion as strength develops

5. Back extensions – with a 2 s pause at top

6. Hanging leg raises or Inclined sit ups

7. DB seated overhead press

8. Parallel bar dips or Bench dips if not sufficiently strong to perform 8 repetitions

9. Hover – Circuit: 60 s 2 arms to front and 30 s 1 arm each side (side hover)

10. Barbell Arm Curls

Cool down and stretch – 10 minutes

The repetition range is between 8 to 15-RM with a maximal loading of 70% of the 1-RM. Initially the program should commence with 2 sets of each exercise with 1-2 minutes rest between sets, progressively building up to 4 repeated sets as the youth advances and can readily tolerate the increased training volume. Towards the end of level 3 the youth may start employing pyramid loading where the loading can be increased on subsequent sets with a lighter drop set employed for the final set.

The goal of the program is to progressively develop the physical capacities of the children to be capable of achieving the following list of physical competencies at the age of 15:

1. Satisfy the requirements for Levels 2 and 3.

2. Hover in a horizontal position with feet, elbows and forearms touching the ground and straight back position for 120 s.

3. Perform 5 well controlled full range single leg squats each leg.

4. Perform 10 well controlled parallel bar dips for boys and 10 bench dips for girls with legs out straight.

5. Perform 10 well controlled chin ups for boys and a 30 s arm hang at 90 degree elbow angle for girls (underhand grip).

6. Perform 10 well controlled repetitions of barbell bench press using a load of 70% of bodyweight for boys and 50% of body weight for girls.

Level 4: 15-18 years

At level 4 the programs are progressively moving towards an advanced adult program involving split routines where appropriate and complex multi-joint movements provided sound technique has been developed under competent coaching by a coach with at least Level 2 ASCA strength and conditioning accreditation. The repetition range is between 6 to 15 RM with a maximal loading of 80% of the 1 RM.

A beginning program for level 4 would comprise a basic 3 day per week whole body program performed on alternate days (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) of the following exercises:

Warm up – 10 mins on bike

1. Major chest exercise (Bench press, Incline bench press or DB press)

2. Overhead shoulder press (Clean and press, Standing military press or Seated press behind neck)

3. Upper back exercise (Chins, Lat pull or DB pullover)

4. Triceps (Dips, Lying triceps extension or Triceps pushdown etc)

5. Major leg exercise (Squat, Leg press or Hack squat)

6. Lower back exercise (Deadlift or Back extension)

7. Hanging leg raise (holding light 1-3 kg medicine ball between legs when strong enough)

8. Major bicep exercise (Standing DB curls, EZ curls or Preacher curls)

9. Inclined sit ups or Hover circuit

10. Calf raises

Cool down and Stretch – 10 mins

Should change specific exercises throughout the week:

• Mon and Fri perform Barbell Bench Press, Wed Inclined Bench Press

• Mon Clean and Press, Wed Standing military press, Friday Press behind neck

• Mon Chins, Wed DB Pullover, Fri Lat pulldown

• Mon Squat, Wed Leg Press, Fri Hack Squat

• Mon and Fri Deadlift, Wed Back Extension etc

The repetition range is between 6 to 15-RM with a maximal loading of 80% of the 1-RM. The program should consist of 3-4 sets of each exercise with 2-3 minutes rest between major exercises such as clean and press, squats, deadlifts and 1-2 minutes rest between sets for more basic exercises such as back extensions, sit ups. The youth is encouraged to employ pyramid loading techniques where the loading can be increased on subsequent sets with a lighter drop set employed for the final set. For youth wishing to increase training intensity, muscle strength and size and move towards a split routine towards the end of Level 4 the following training recommendations are provided:

2 Way Split Routine: After 12 months on the above whole body program the individual may choose to up the intensity and volume and move to a 2 way split routine. This involves splitting the body in 2 and performing each workout 2 times per week, thus 4 workouts per week. The ASCA preferred way to achieve this is to split the body into:

Day 1: Upper Body (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Upper Back and Biceps): Monday and Friday. Day 2: Lower Body (Legs, Lower Back and Stomach): Wednesday and Saturday

However, there are other methods to achieve this, for example push: pull split routines. By splitting the body in two more exercises can be performed per session and a more intense workout per body part achieved with longer to recover prior to the next session.

Example of 2 Way Split Routine

Monday and Friday – Upper Body (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Upper Back and Biceps)

Warm up – 10 mins on bike

1. Bench press

2. Inclined bench press or DB Flies

3. Standing push press

4. DB Lateral raises or Rear deltoid exercise

5. Chin Ups

6. DB Pullovers or Bench pull

7. Dips

8. Lying Triceps Extension

9. DB Twist and Turn Biceps Curls

Cool down – 10 mins stretching

• 3-4 sets of 6-15 reps with about 1-3 minutes rest between sets.

Wednesday and Saturday –

Lower Body (Legs, Lower Back and Stomach):

Warm up – 10 mins on bike

1. Squats

2. Deadlifts or Cleans

3. Leg press

4. DB lunges

5. Leg Curls

6. Back Extensions with additional loading

7. Calf Raises

8. Russian twists with medicine ball or Inclined sit ups with rotation

9. Hanging leg raises with light medicine ball between legs

Cool down – 10 mins stretching

• 3-4 sets of 6-15 reps with about 1-3 minutes rest between sets.

Conclusion:

  • You can see how from 6 years old you have certain requirements to get to the 15-18 age group or ‘level 4’ group. Not only is it age based but it also has the physical competencies component to ensure each child or youth is ready to step up to the next level.
  • Each child or youth should be supervised by an accredited strength and conditioning                                            coach to ensure safety and the correct development of the child under the appropriate guidelines.
  • You can see the difference in difficulty between one level and the next. This is why the child has to obtain the physical competencies to be ready for the next level. The main goal of their current level is to acquire the physical competencies so they can move on to the next stage of development when they reach the appropriate age.

For more information visit the website – www.strengthandconditioning.org – and click on the resistance training in children and youth position stand. Also if you have any questions feel free to ask.


Is 6 years of age TOO young to start a resistance training program??

July 10, 2009

In 2007, the Australia Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) developed a position stand on resistance training for children and youth

www.strengthandconditioning.org. The purpose of the position stand is to give as much clarity and guidance as possible to assist coaches in designing resistance training programs for children and youth at various stages throughout their development.

How young is too young?

You hear about parents putting weights in their children’s hands and making them do certain and sometimes crazy things at the tender ages of 3-5 years. Sure, the weights may be light, but no it isn’t necessary for their development at such a young age. If your child is ready to participate in organised and structured sports such as cricket, football, rugby and basketball, then they are generally ready to perform a supervised resistance training program. However, the actual age will vary from child to child and will largely be based on their capacity to follow directions and their structural development. ASCA states that the youngest a child should commence resistance training is at 6 years of age.

How heavy is too heavy?

Ok, now we’ve established an age limit it’s time to talk about intensity and training loads for children and adolescents.

1 repetition maximum (RM) (the maximum weight you can lift in one go) tests have been conducted on kids aged 12-18 years of age. These kids however had been properly coached and had a sound strength base built up over years of training and their 1 RM lifts were conducted under quality supervision and assistance. ASCA recommends that younger and less experienced school aged children should have their capabilities tested by using a lighter weight (50-70% of 1RM) and performing a repetitions to fatigue test (RTF) (the maximum number of times you can lift a set weight) from which 1 RM can be estimated with reasonable accuracy using a table and formula to calculate a result.

 Here are some good, well researched guidelines to follow with training loads for children and adolescents in various age groups.

Level 1: 6-9 years of age: modifications of bodyweight exercises such as wall push ups or bench dips and light resistance (brooms and bands) work for relatively high repetitions of 15+.

Level 2: 9-12 years of age: 10-15 RM with approximately maximal loading of 60% which can be calculated from the RTF test, using predominately machine exercises that are appropriate to their size and simple free weight exercises.

Level 3: 12-15 years of age: 8-15 RM (approx maximal loading of 70%) using progressively more free weight exercises but avoiding complex lifts unless competent supervision and teaching is available from a level 2 or 3 strength and conditioning coach.

Level 4: 15-18 years of age: 6-15 RM (approx maximal loading of 80%) progressively moving towards an advanced adult program involving split routines where the body is trained in different areas on different days.

Keep in mind that even though your child might be capable of performing the requirements for the next age group it’s important they stay within their age bracket for their own safety and long term development. You can check the ASCA website for more details on the requirements and what a program in each age group should look like OR wait for my next blog and read in more detail.

Worried about injuries?

Research shows that injuries obtained by children and adolescents when resistance training will very rarely effect their development in any way.

The most common injuries are to the feet and hands due to weights being dropped and fingers being jammed.

So what does this information tell us?

Ok, so what can you as a parent take away from this? If you have a child, they should be;

  1. At least 6 years old to start a resistance training program,
  2. They should have quality supervision from a strength and conditioning coach,
  3. Be able to follow the guidelines that have been put in place for them,
  4. Most of all they should want to do it. If your kid isn’t enjoying it then in my opinion it isn’t worth doing.