Children's Hospital Colorado

Weight Training and Kids: When, Where and How Is It Safe to Start?

a photo of a large weight for weight training.

Weight training has become an integral part of an athlete’s preparation for competition, but the dilemma of when, where and how is a common question faced by both parents and young athletes.

We know that the amount of information/misinformation on the topic can be overwhelming. Our Sports Medicine Center experts have provided weight training tips for kids to help simplify things.

When should kids start weight training?

  • It is never too early to start to learn fundamental movement skills.
  • Movement skills should be progressive and kids should not progress to quickly.
  • Apply simple progressive principles:
    • Simple to complex movements
    • Slow movements to fast movements
    • Static to dynamic
    • Double leg activities to single leg activities
    • Unloaded movements (bodyweight) to loaded movements such as planks, pushups, pullups, squats and lunges are great bodyweight movements
  • Fundamental weight training movements and balance/stability training should begin prior to beginning sport participation because sports involve many complex movements.
  • Principles of Long-Term Athletic Development are helpful for parents and coaches to understand.

Where and how should kids begin weight training?

  • A program or facility with trained professionals and coaches.
  • Programs that involve injury risk reduction principles.
  • High school summer programs that younger athletes can begin participating in prior to beginning high school.
  • Initial fundamental movement training does not require a weight room and can be incorporated into practices of the sport that the child is participating in.
  • Initial emphasis with young children should be on proper execution of movements and not on competition and amount of weight lifted.

Check out more sports articles from our sports medicine team, and learn about healthy weight training for young athletes.