Ask Alfonso: Can My 12 Year Old Daughter Workout?
I have two children and they’re very different. My older child (boy) is very active, plays sports and gets into all sorts of adventures. My daughter, who at 12 is 2 years his junior, is the exact opposite.
My wife and I have tried enrolling her in karate, gymnastics and other types of activities but she’s just not interested. I’m new to working out and my wife and I have been doing home workouts now for 3 months with very good results.
Yesterday while we were exercising, my daughter came in and asked to watch. She then went on to try some exercises with us. Of course we were ecstatic! And she wants to do more.
My question is can she? Is it safe for a 12 year old to workout and use weights?
Congratulations on your success so far with working out. I’m sure as time goes on you’ll see just how much it’s going to change your life and body. It’s terrific that you and your wife have started this journey together.
You question is actually one I get a lot, because the old way of thinking was that children needed to wait to a certain age to exercise. However this is mainly because these ideas hark from the 1940’s and 50’s when all people did was lift weights and the idea of functional training wasn’t even on the radar. People surmised that if kids lifted weights they would stunt their growth and become “muscle bound” too early, damaging their future growth. Personally I think this way of thinking is pure ignorance. I’ve never come across any scientific research that shows exercise can be detrimental for a child’s health.
In fact the opposite is actually true. Children who exercise regularly are more disciplined, have high self-esteem and confidence, and overall are planting the seeds for a healthier life ahead. At the end of the day I think common sense should be your greatest indicator of which program to put your daughter on.
As you know, I almost always suggest complete workouts that encompass full body fitness so I’d put your daughter on a program that includes a little weight training, core and balance work, stability, functional movements as well as plymometrics and calisthenics. And I can tell you that BOTH of my two sons, ages 12 and 10, perform these types of workouts – and love them!
We all take our kids to the playground right? Well when they’re there, the kids swing, jump, pull themselves up, balance and run around for hours. Guess what? That’s exercise, and it’s the style that I try to mimic in my workouts. However I will caution you, you need to tread lightly with your daughter. The last thing you want to do is push her away from exercise by making it seem a job or not fun. The key is to get her excited, show her how she can make improvements and feel better and let her dictate the pace with your guidance.
I started exercising at age 13 and I turned out okay! I just wish I knew then what I know now, but I guess my kids and all of you now get the benefit of my years of experimentation. So here’s what I’ll say. All bodyweight exercises are in, and are great for your daughter to get the form down. So body squats, pushups, lunges, step-ups, even pull-ups (modified if needed) are awesome. Of course sit-ups, crunches, planks, T-squares and shoulder taps – they’re all in too. She can run, jump rope, use jumping jacks and burpees or squat thrusts and perform chops with a light resistance band or medicine ball. And you must be sure to educate her on muscular balance – meaning that her program should strengthen her body as a whole, not just one part. Be sure to include low back exercises like one-legged deadlifts, upper back and shoulder exercises like light resistance band rear flyes for posture and just be sure she gets the idea of complete fitness. You can sequence her workout in circuit style, moving from one exercise to the next, interjecting bouts of aerobics with other modes of exercise. My kids love these kinds of routines, but I keep them short – no longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Exercise is great for children. With todays technology our kids are moving less and less. I’ll tell you this much – if you can show your daughter the value of exercise and activity now, it’ll be one of the greatest gifts she’ll ever receive.
Good luck – and let me know how it goes!
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about 6 months ago - No comments
Hi Alfonso, I just came by to ask if a 15-year old like me can undergo the Insanity workout? (I’m not fond of using weights). I recently got lean from 145 pounds to 128 pounds. The only thing is that I still have ‘baby fat’. Is it okay for me to undergo intense training?…
about 1 year ago - No comments
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