In a previous blog I addressed the topic of child obesity. You can find it here:
Today’s blog focuses on fitness programs.
I’ve been asked numerous times by parents and even fellow trainers on how to approach physical fitness for children, specifically those that are overweight or obese. Although I am primarily a strength and performance trainer, I have a long background as a Martial Arts instructor and worked with many children ages 5-17 years old from the barely able to balance themselves on one leg to international class competitors.
The notion that resistance training negatively affects child growth and development still exists and some trainers are of the belief that children should be trained as “little adults.”
Under safe and proper conditions children can engage in resistance training. One of the first acts that a baby attempts is to try and raise its head. Proportionately this is a very heavy weight relative to the size of the child. Later comes crawling, attempts to balance, stand and locomote. We were born to move.
It is my suggestion that children partake in exercise sessions that engage a variety of general physical skills and fundamental movement patterns. Body weight training fits the bill perfectly and programming should be designed to take advantage of fundamental movement patterns: Push,Pull,Hop,Skip,Jump,Run,Climb,Tumble,Carry and Balance.
Circuit formats or Group circle training. A lead coach with 1-2 assistants for safety and encouragement is a good thing.
Children should not be trained or treated as little adults nor should the programming be overly specialized. Children’s programming needs to have an element of fun as it is competing with video games and the internet to capture the kids attention.
Training for Warriors Level 2 Coaches have access to a variety of animal inspire warm-ups that would be fun for youngsters to participate in, but could prove challenging to adults.
Play as the Way is a training system for children that teaches fun movements and skills that transfer to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) skills.
BJJ and Judo are both child safe Martial Arts and a high percentage of Martial Art instructors worldwide have experience teaching children.
While I believe any sport is good for a child, these two are individual sports that involve a variety of physical skills and where weight can be an advantage.
Strength training for Kids.
Great video on ModCom MMA Play as the Way Program
National Academy of Sports Medicine – Youth Exercise Specialist
International Youth Conditioning Association
Play as the Way