MUSCLE GAIN FOR KIDS
Kids and teens who participate in organized sports or other activities such as baseball, soccer, or gymnastics usually can safely begin strength training. Kids of 7 or 8 years old can safely undergo strength training exercises if they have good balance and control of their body, follow rules, and can do the exercises with good form.
A child’s strength-training program shouldn’t be a scaled-down version of an adult’s weight training regimen. Kids who strength train should learn proper technique and know how to use the equipment safely.
Trainers who work at schools, gyms, and in weight rooms know about strength training. But look for someone who is a certified strength-training expert and who has experience working with kids and teens.
Strength-training programs are generally safe. When they do it properly, strength training won’t affect growing bones.
As with any sport, consult your doctor before letting your child start a strength-training program. Kids and teens with some medical conditions — example uncontrolled high blood pressure, seizures, heart problems, and other conditions — need their doctor’s OK before they begin their strength training.
Optimal Muscle-Building Age
It’s around a 10-year period, so a person has a lot of years to build up muscle between the ages of 15 and 25. After that, it gets more tough for both men and women to gain muscle mass. And if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Without continued resistance training, people start losing muscle mass after age 25.
Here are some guidelines when considering strength-training programs:
- An instructor-to-child ratio of no more than 1 to 10.
- The instructor should have an approved strength-training certification and experience with kids and strength training.
- Start with at least 5–10 minutes of aerobic activity and dynamic stretching as a warm up. Cool down with less intense activity and static stretching.
- Start with one set of 8–15 repetitions of 6–8 exercises whose main aim is to work out the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body and core.
- Kids can start with body weight exercises (such as sit-ups and push-ups) and work on these practices without using weights. When proper technique is brought into practice, a relatively light weight can be used with a high number of repetitions (8–15). Increase the weight, number of sets, or types of exercises as strength improves.
- For best results, do strength exercises for at least 20–30 minutes 2 or 3 days per week. Take at least a day off between sessions.
Strength training is one part of a total fitness program. Kids and teens should get at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, including aerobic (cardio) activity, like running, biking, and playing outside. Also, be sure you child drinks plenty of liquids and eats a healthy diet for better performance and recovery.
WAYS TO BUILD MUSCLES
While kids cannot lift weights until they hit puberty, there are a variety of activities kids can do to build muscle and get stronger.
- Go outside and play.
Running, biking, swimming, playing sports, and walking around the woods all build muscles naturally, and this is often the safest, most fun way for kids to build muscles. Grab a group of friends and play a game of basketball, start a scavenger hunt, jump in the pool, and wrestle in the backyard – just like many adults “cross-train” to build muscle with different activities, kids can secretly build muscles while playing.
- Warm-up before exercising. Just because kids are flexible and full of energy doesn’t mean they can skip the warm-up. Do 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, or jumping rope, before working out to get your muscles loose and your blood flowing
- Use the weight of your body to build muscle anywhere. Kids should not just take an adult’s workout plan and scale it down. Not only can this be dangerous, kids have an energy level and natural flexibility that allows them to do a variety of exercises without needed weights. Perhaps more importantly, these exercises are easily turned into games or small competitions, making them much more fun to get through then a trip to the gym.
- Traverse monkey bars to do modified “pull-ups,” or offer to push your friends on the swings to build arm muscle.
- Hops, skips, and lunges all use your body weight to train your leg muscles.
- Climbing, whether at a rock wall on the playground, is a great workout for your arm and leg muscles.
- Do push-ups. One of the best exercises for upper body muscles is still one of the simplest. Lie on the ground with your hands and toes touching the floor. Push your entire body up with both hands until your elbows are barely bent, then lower yourself slowly down towards the ground. When you are about 6 inches from the floor, push up again and repeat. Try to get 10 in a row, then rest for 1-2 minutes and try again.
- Do sit-ups with a ball and a friend. Sit across your friend with your knees bent and your toes facing each other. One of you should have a ball in your hands. At the same time, bend up from your stomach so that you are looking each other in the eyes and pass the ball. Only your feet and butt should still be touching the ground. Keep doing sit-ups and passing the ball until one of you is too tired to continue.
- Keep your feet on the ground the entire time, and try to keep your shoulders lined up with your partner’s.
- Focus on using the muscles around your stomach, your abs, to pull you up each time.
- Organize “crazy races” to build different muscles. There are tons of fun variations to a normal race that activate certain muscles and encourage kids to exercise without knowing it. Try making a relay race that switches between the following exercises to encourage great upper body strength.
- Bear crawl: With your hands and feet on the ground, stick your butt high in the air and run forward on all fours. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get tired – many football and rugby teams still do this for strength conditioning.
- Crab walk: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet and hands on the ground. Lift your butt and walk forward, backward, or side to side to exercise your arms, abs, and thighs.
- Burpee: Jump forward with both feet. When you land, get down and do one push-up. Then get up quickly and leap forward again.
- Moon lunges: While they look slow, these are great hip and leg building exercises. Take the biggest step forward you can with your right foot, then lower your left knee and your butt slowly towards the ground. Stand up and repeat with your left leg.
- Spell out your alphabet with your legs. This helps to work your core and leg muscles. This exercise isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is a fun way to work some thinking and competition into your exercises. Lay on your back. Lift both legs together and point your toes down so that they form a long, straight pencil. From here, spell out the alphabet with your legs. How far can you get?
It is often easiest to keep your hands underneath your butt for balance.
Make a “Work-out Spelling Bee” by challenging friends to spell words with your legs. Not only does spelling count, but you have to get through the word
- Use resistance bands for “light” weight training. Resistance bands are a long, stretchy, exercise tools that allow you to safely simulate weightlifting. Imagine them as large rubber bands—as you pull on them, they resist you and want to snap back together, making them harder and harder to pull on
- stretch when you are done. Cooling down helps you muscles relax, making them more effective the next time you need them. Do some light stretching when you are finished to feel great the next day.
- Make sure you take time to rest. Your body needs time recover after a workout, so don’t exercise the same muscles two days in a row.
- Know that you should not lift weights until after puberty. Trying to lift difficult weights and “get huge” is not only impossible for young kids, it is unhealthy. Your muscles, tendons (which attach muscles to bones) and ligaments (which attach bones to other bones) are not fully developed, and could tear under the stress. Be patient and wait on weights until you are a teenager.
Small weights, ranging from 1-5lbs, can be safely substituted for resistance bands in younger children.
Body weight exercises are much better for younger kids. You can still build muscle without injuring yourself.
Recipe to a Muscle Sandwich
Try to make a filling using ½ cup crumbled cottage cheese. You can use boiled egg also, 2 tbsp chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp chopped onions, 2 tbsp chopped green peppers, 1 tsp chaat masala and 1 tbsp tomato ketchup. Sandwich using whole-wheat bread sliced. Grill or serve plain with a glass of soyamilk.
Here are the must include muscle foods:
Meat, Poultry or Seafood:
This group includes chicken, lamb, red meat, fish and shell-fish. The meat group is the richest source of protein along with iron, magnesium and potassium. These nutrients promote muscle development.
Pulses & Legumes:
Dals, sprouts, lentils, whole pulses like rajma, chole, beans etc. provide a good dose of protein. When combined with a cereal eg. rajma-chawal, dal-roti, chole-bature, khichri, idli, pongal etc. They provide “complete proteins” that directly form muscle mass.
Milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs provide excellent quality protein, calcium, magnesium, omega 3 and vitamin D to build a strong framework for healthy muscles.