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Old 03-21-2016, 01:06 PM   #1
Ben Joven
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Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

I have a extremely athletic 12 year old, who I was just told by doctor is going to be 6' 4"-5" and I wanted to get him squatting, which I feel is the most important movement/exercise for athletic performance.

Just wondering when's the most appropriate to start him on a program like "starting strength" or 5x5?

Thanks!
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:56 PM   #2
Michael E Tancini
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Joven View Post
I have a extremely athletic 12 year old, who I was just told by doctor is going to be 6' 4"-5" and I wanted to get him squatting, which I feel is the most important movement/exercise for athletic performance.

Just wondering when's the most appropriate to start him on a program like "starting strength" or 5x5?

Thanks!

At 12 years old, the kid has lots and lots of growing to do. The best program Id say for him to start is just a linear progression...Increasing the demand (volume + intensity) by 5-10% at the absolute most from week to week.

HOWEVER

I would highly suggest starting without weight or a PVC pipe. Drill in proper mechanics. Tech the kid how to move properly and control his body. The kid should have a perfect squat before adding even 5 pounds to the movement. No matter how athletic the kid is, he needs to learn how to move properly. He is a blank canvas at the moment and he just recently started puberty. Rep Scheme and set progression honestly shouldn't be a focus at the moment for him. Focus on skill development and playing as many sports as the kid possibly can.

Air squat --> Goblet squat --> front squat, back squat, and OHS

I would also teach him how to olympic lift with just the PVC pipe / 15# bar. Strength, Speed, Power, Coordination are all involved with those lifts. Also include plyometrics / agility work (agility ladders, jump circuits, box jumps, jumping rope). Make the program as broad as it possibly can. Run, jump, swim, row, bike, throw, shoot, bowl, climb, roll...etc. Jumping and landing mechanics are crucial in his athletic development to limit the chance of a future injury down the line.

Also another note on his age. He is 12 years old. He has a lot of growing to do and probably hasn't even hit his major growth spurt yet. His long bones WILL grow faster than his muscle length. This is one of the major players in combination with overuse by the kid in developing Osgood–Schlatter disease. Making Sure his Quads, hamstrings, and calves stay mobile is important.

The kid should be most importantly having fun. With a 12 year old athletic kid, its easy to get ahead of ourselves and push-push-push them towards certain sports. That however is the easiest way to burn them out and deter them from sport and fitness, which should stay with them for life. So do what the kid wants to do, when he wants to do it. Teach him life values of hard work and working/earning everything he strives to achieve or have. Teach him that whatever he goes after to focus on the process of constant self improvement through hard work and perseverance. But most importantly, the kid needs to just have fun, play, and learn to move properly.


hope that helps
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:13 AM   #3
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

Worked with a kid like that. Our experience is he had a lot of difficulty with movement control while he was growing very fast. He struggled with barbel work and good form.

Each kid is different. So you will have to closely watch. As has been said I would work on basic drills and movements for coordination. If you do that when the kid finishes his big growth spurt at 14-15 he will be ready to add strength fast.

If you try to add strength too early it will be a bad experience. Remember he is not like an adult. When his body is ready he will be able to add strength and mass at an amazing rate. What would take you or I years he will do in months when the time is right.

Keep him healthy, teach him good technique and make sure he has fun.

Handling a kid like this correctly is a true demonstration of coaching skills and wisdom.
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Old 03-22-2016, 12:07 PM   #4
Ben Joven
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael E Tancini View Post
At 12 years old, the kid has lots and lots of growing to do. The best program Id say for him to start is just a linear progression...Increasing the demand (volume + intensity) by 5-10% at the absolute most from week to week.

HOWEVER

I would highly suggest starting without weight or a PVC pipe. Drill in proper mechanics. Tech the kid how to move properly and control his body. The kid should have a perfect squat before adding even 5 pounds to the movement. No matter how athletic the kid is, he needs to learn how to move properly. He is a blank canvas at the moment and he just recently started puberty. Rep Scheme and set progression honestly shouldn't be a focus at the moment for him. Focus on skill development and playing as many sports as the kid possibly can.

Air squat --> Goblet squat --> front squat, back squat, and OHS

I would also teach him how to olympic lift with just the PVC pipe / 15# bar. Strength, Speed, Power, Coordination are all involved with those lifts. Also include plyometrics / agility work (agility ladders, jump circuits, box jumps, jumping rope). Make the program as broad as it possibly can. Run, jump, swim, row, bike, throw, shoot, bowl, climb, roll...etc. Jumping and landing mechanics are crucial in his athletic development to limit the chance of a future injury down the line.

Also another note on his age. He is 12 years old. He has a lot of growing to do and probably hasn't even hit his major growth spurt yet. His long bones WILL grow faster than his muscle length. This is one of the major players in combination with overuse by the kid in developing Osgood–Schlatter disease. Making Sure his Quads, hamstrings, and calves stay mobile is important.

The kid should be most importantly having fun. With a 12 year old athletic kid, its easy to get ahead of ourselves and push-push-push them towards certain sports. That however is the easiest way to burn them out and deter them from sport and fitness, which should stay with them for life. So do what the kid wants to do, when he wants to do it. Teach him life values of hard work and working/earning everything he strives to achieve or have. Teach him that whatever he goes after to focus on the process of constant self improvement through hard work and perseverance. But most importantly, the kid needs to just have fun, play, and learn to move properly.


hope that helps
Great great advice...never heard of Osgood–Schlatter disease will definitely be researching this.

So far in the gym we've just been deadlifting, squatting with the bar with minimum weight.
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Old 03-22-2016, 04:19 PM   #5
Richard Colon
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

I'm speaking from experience here. It doesn't make my thoughts any more right but take it as you will.

I've had a garage gym, S&C, all around fitness business, training thing for years now. My son, now 16yrs old never really had much interest. Over time, he started asking questions and somewhere around 13 - 14 yrs old, it became a habit that he just kept walking out of the house, standing in the driveway, watching people train. Eventually, we had a talk. Old school martial arts teacher and student stuff. Sweep the driveway, hang out, chat with people, clean the garage, I'll show you stuff every now and then and let's see if it sticks. Well, it stuck, in a huge way.

This is how it went down.

He started lifting and training "seriously" at around 13.5 - 14yrs old. When I say seriously it was more about consistency rather than intensity. 4 - 6 days per week. I gave him the things that I believe make a beast and had him work on that stuff. Sprints, DLs, Squats, lots of jumping, pull-ups, chins, dips, etc. I tempered all of it with the fact that I was still his dad and was really not fond of "experimenting" and figuring out when is it "too soon" on my own kid. For that first 6 - 9 months, he didn't do anything crazy heavy. I wasn't 100% confident whether it was good for him yet with all the loading on his spine, etc., but also, naturally he just wan't good yet. He did Back Squat and Deadlift but his DL was rarely more than his BW (which was about 100 - 120ish lbs) and he squatted a 45 lb bar. We dialed it in until his technique was impeccable, as much as possible at least.

What did he start with as an athlete just walking in?

He wasn't clumsy and still figuring out his body he was just NEW. He trained hard, listened well and we were meticulous with his movement. He was a Cross Country runner in 6th - 8th grade and ran track his freshman year. In regards to the Crossfit, Metcon stuff, he ran a sub 56 400 and sub 6 mile and had decent coordination so his engine was pretty good. He also listened REALLY WELL (I was his dad afterall, whereas now at 16 1/2, he has it all figured out sometimes :P)

By the time he was well into being 15, he qualified for Youth Nationals in Olympic weightlifting (lifted at a legit Olympic gym for a few months). At around 145ish lbs and 15yrs old, he C&J'd over 200, could clean 240 and could Power Snatch BW, give or take 10 lbs. He could BS 300 and Front Squats 205 for around a 5 rep max. Again, 15 goin' on 16, 5ft 7ish, 135 - 145 lbs is when he did this.




From age 11 to 14 (its on his door frame) he grew 11 inches. Since that time and with his lifting (whether there is correlation or not), he has grown about 2 - 3 inches in 2 1/2 years. His back is currently iffy with lots of movements and we (wife, docs, myself, my son) call it as it is, he is injured. The verdict from the docs, PTs and all those in the know is that he is crazy strong (almost too much so for his size, age, maturity and growth) that things just haven't caught up. Hams and glutes aren't handling the strength of his quads, for example.

He has big *** quads, obvious that he lifts (they don't look normal for a kid his size). His running today is within seconds of where it was when he was 14ish (just starting lifting) so despite all that training and strength, he was faster and possibly better when he never stepped foot in my gym and he just ran 2 - 3 yrs ago. Then again, he was literally a skinny 14yr old, now he looks like 1/2 a man, with +25lbs - most all of it muscle, so maybe that is it. His skinny kid friends from 8th and 9th grade that only run beat him in a mile or two today despite his strength and "gym ability", but only by 40 secs or so at most maybe.

However, they look like noodles with a 45lb bar on a BS and my son does PC EMOMs at 185..

Is one better than the other? Not sure, but the point is - EVERYTHING is a give and take so make sure you aren't deciding for someone with so much still ahead of them. If they don't have the maturity to kinda make that choice on their own, don't do it.


Did it all hurt, restrict or change his path? I'm his dad so I'm extremely proud and I don't regret helping him pursue the lifting journey, which did involve A LOT for a young kid. Why don't I regret? I ask him constantly and he is glad he did it and wants more. He has to be smart now because as he has gotten better, he is realizing that with that comes the sacrifice.

He is really pushing within a year or so to see where he may be with the Games, etc (placed 9th in region last year in 14-15) but he knows, with that stress and intensity something always gives. He does 'wince' and 'feels the stress' at times but when you walk out with 3 on each side as a kinda skinny kid sophomore weighing 147 lbs, things happen. He knows the risks as you get better and stronger. Things FEEL heavier, on the small parts - like the spine, knees, joints, etc.

Tis' the life I guess. It's his to choose and we are intense but smart. At the end of the day, I just count the smiles, and he has TONS of them.

Last edited by Richard Colon : 03-22-2016 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 03-23-2016, 10:48 AM   #6
Ben Joven
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

@Richard Colon hey this is huge! Thanks for your input man
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Old 03-26-2016, 05:10 PM   #7
Michael A. Jones
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

[quote=Ben Joven;1261611]Great great advice...never heard of Osgood–Schlatter disease will definitely be researching this.

I dealt with Osgood-Schlatter as an adolencent and it haunted me into adulthood. I eventually required surgery to try and repair some of the damage...I grew nearly 4-6" over an 8 month period and my football coaches never cautioned me about lifting heavy. I played defensive end and lived by squats and power cleans.....

Every kid is different, but I'd advise drilling mechanics, lift light to moderate and progress as needed.

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Old 04-06-2016, 09:03 AM   #8
Dakota Base
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

I started Olympic and PowerLifting at 10yrs old. I went through injuries in high school and college - sports related - but my orthopedic surgeon confirmed they were driven by the extent of activity, not caused by any "damage" done from training at an early age.

There are really 2 challenges: The first is to get a kid to admit when they're on the brink between hurting and hurt, and be sure they rest and rehab the way the should. The second is to incorporate a diligent flexibility and mobility program. Stretching is boring and unsexy to teens, so it's hard to keep kids committed to it.

I don't really believe fitness has a minimum age. Our 2 1/2yr old does push ups, sit ups, squat jumps, burpees, dumbbell thrusters, and a few other movements just following along with my wife and I. He loves doing pull ups. We don't "make" him do anything, but he likes to follow along, so his increasing fitness and strength is just an added bonus. His pediatrician gives us the same advice as suggested by common sense - it doesn't hurt him, and indeed helps him, to train a bit, but his volume shouldn't be such to cause soreness, let alone pain, and the weight shouldn't be so heavy to cause him to struggle.

I've also spent quite a bit of time coaching "kids Fed" wrestling programs; the same challenges apply.

A guy has to use reason and like any athlete - listen to their body.
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:39 AM   #9
Alex Burden
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

I have coached/instructed kids for 15+ years in both football (Soccer for those on the other side of the ocean) and Kyokushin karate (5-16yrs).

Now the fact that you are coaching your own son makes a difference because he will give you **** back like my kids did sometimes.

But i have 1 simple rule - quality always comes first over quantity.

This is something i have always told all the kids i have coached... if you are going to do something then do it right, take the time you need because once you have this programmed in your head you will never have to think about it again. Why waste time doing 100 bad sit ups when you can do 10 that are 100% perfect. It's always good to tweek what you already have (progression) and this comes over years of working out and will continue the rest of your life, but building a correct foundation will never be replaced. So many people that have worked out themselfs have to more or less start over when they start with a PT or coach because their foundation was wrong from the start and now after all these years they need to fix it.

This is the same methadology i have towards my kids (now 18 and 24) but to all of the kids i have coached/instructed.

If you think like this you won't go wrong
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Old 04-12-2016, 01:31 PM   #10
Ben Joven
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Re: Need expert opinion on kids and squatting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota Base View Post
I started Olympic and PowerLifting at 10yrs old. I went through injuries in high school and college - sports related - but my orthopedic surgeon confirmed they were driven by the extent of activity, not caused by any "damage" done from training at an early age.

There are really 2 challenges: The first is to get a kid to admit when they're on the brink between hurting and hurt, and be sure they rest and rehab the way the should. The second is to incorporate a diligent flexibility and mobility program. Stretching is boring and unsexy to teens, so it's hard to keep kids committed to it.

I don't really believe fitness has a minimum age. Our 2 1/2yr old does push ups, sit ups, squat jumps, burpees, dumbbell thrusters, and a few other movements just following along with my wife and I. He loves doing pull ups. We don't "make" him do anything, but he likes to follow along, so his increasing fitness and strength is just an added bonus. His pediatrician gives us the same advice as suggested by common sense - it doesn't hurt him, and indeed helps him, to train a bit, but his volume shouldn't be such to cause soreness, let alone pain, and the weight shouldn't be so heavy to cause him to struggle.

I've also spent quite a bit of time coaching "kids Fed" wrestling programs; the same challenges apply.

A guy has to use reason and like any athlete - listen to their body.
yeah I'm really just starting him off by getting proper form squat wise, we barely started with the bar.
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