Children and Weightlifting

I wanted to share this post from artofmanliness.com which discusses the benefits prepubescent children can obtain from weightlifting.  I was inspired to discuss this topic after three of my nephews and my niece, all ranging from 7 to 10 years in age, invaded my home gym during my dad’s memorial dinner and begged me to show them how to lift weights. I obliged, all the while monitoring their form and also making sure they were lifting a reasonable amount of weight.  They enjoyed the session so much, they have asked their parents to let them have a sleepover at Aunt Stacey’s so they can train, and play with the cats, and have fun in an environment other than their own homes.

Source: 123rf
Image ID : 50131018

Original post can be found here: Art of Manliness Article

Brett and Kate McKay • March 1, 2018 Last updated: March 24, 2020

When Can Kids Start Lifting Weights?

vintage young boy lifting dumbbell teachers look worried

Maybe you’ve been following a barbell training program for a while now. Maybe you do your workouts in a garage gym at home, and your curious kids have been hanging out with you while you exercise and cheering you on for getting swol.

Maybe they’ve even wanted to imitate you, and would like to start lifting weights just like Dad. You start letting them hoist an empty bar a few times, and they feel like they’re ready for more.

But your wife catches wind of what you and the gang have been up to and starts raising Mom concerns. “Is it safe for kids to lift weights? Doesn’t it stunt their growth?”

Bless Mom’s heart, but she needn’t be worried.

Below we deconstruct the myths about kids and weightlifting and discuss how to safely get your kiddos started with pumping a little iron.

The Myths About Kids And Weightlifting

Weightlifting can stunt a child’s growth. This is probably the most common fear surrounding kids and weightlifting. Supposedly, if a child lifts weights it can stunt their growth in a couple of ways.

First, there’s concern that weightlifting will cause the growth plates in a child’s bones to fuse together prematurely, which will in turn hinder their overall growth.

The other concern is that weightlifting can somehow fracture growth plates, and consequently stunt growth that way.

But no proof exists that either of these worries are valid. According to Jordan Feigenbaum and Austin Baraki, who are both medical doctors and strength coaches, no evidence exists that suggests weightlifting inhibits a child’s growth. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Further, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, a growth plate fracture from weightlifting hasn’t been reported in any research study. In a Barbell Medicine podcast on this topic, Dr. Feigenbaum explained that growth plate fractures are extremely rare and require a severe amount of trauma, more than a child would ever experience lifting weights safely.

So don’t worry about weightlifting stunting your child’s growth. It’s a myth.

Weightlifting is just dangerous. Okay, weightlifting may not stunt a kid’s growth, but doesn’t the activity carry other dangers? Couldn’t children hurt their back, pull a muscle, injure their rotator cuff, damage their tendons, etc.?

In fact, your kid is more likely to get injured playing soccer or baseball than they are lifting weights. Contrary to popular belief, weightlifting is one of the safest physical activities to take part in, for folks of any age.

In my podcast interview with Dr. Feigenbaum, he highlighted research that shows that the injury rate for weightlifting injuries per thousand participation hours pales in comparison to injuries in other supposedly kid friendly sports. For example, one study found that the injury rate for weightlifting was .013 injuries per thousand practice hours. For soccer it was 1.3 injuries per thousand participation hours. So your kid is 100 times more likely to get injured playing soccer than lifting weights. Yet despite the prodigious injury rate for soccer, you don’t see parents keeping their kids from taking the field.

Bottom line: when done with proper form and supervision, weightlifting is an incredibly safe activity for your kid to do. 

At What Age Can a Child Start a Serious Weightlifting Program?

So weightlifting is safe for your kids — it won’t stunt their growth, and they won’t kill themselves doing it. That means you should definitely start your eight-year-old on the Starting Strength program, right?

Wrong.

According to Feigenbaum and Baraki, while it’s perfectly fine to let your kids do a few sets of deadlifts or squats with some light weights, you shouldn’t put them on a regimented, progressive training program (where they’re increasing the weight every session) until they’ve reached Stage 4 on the Tanner Puberty Scale. When a teenager is in Tanner Stage 4, they’re basically in full-blown puberty. Pubic hair is adult-like in both males and females. Females have almost fully developed breasts; males have larger testicles and penis, and their scrotum has become larger and darker. Males in Tanner Stage 4 will have underarm hair and the beginnings of facial hair growth, and their voice will also be deeper.

The reason you don’t want to start regularly weight training a child until they reach Tanner Stage 4 is that before then, they just don’t have the hormone levels (specifically, testosterone) to drive progress and recover from session to session.

Generally, children enter Tanner Stage 4 between ages 11 and 17. It’s different for each child. You might have a 12-year-old who’s in Tanner Stage 4 and physically ready to train when they’re in sixth grade. But you also might have a child who’s a late bloomer and won’t be ready to train until they’re a junior in high school. Don’t try to rush it. Let your child’s physical maturity determine when they start a dedicated training program.

My Prepubescent Kid Wants to Lift: What Should He Do?

Until your child reaches Tanner Stage 4, they don’t need to follow a set program; just let them lift weights in a sporadic and playful way.

The goal with weight training in prepubescent children isn’t to crush PRs, but rather to learn the movement patterns for the lifts and cultivate a lifelong love of fitness.

Research shows that prepubescent children can get stronger following a supervised weightlifting program, but the strength they gain comes from an increase “in the number of motor neurons that are ‘recruited’ to fire with each muscle contraction.” Basically, as your kids practice the barbell lifts, their motor neurons become more efficient, and they’re better able to display strength. Your kids won’t start packing on real muscle from strength training until they reach Tanner Stage 4 puberty.

Here are a few guidelines on how to guide your prepubescent children in weightlifting:

Don’t force weightlifting on your kids. If they express an interest in lifting, encourage it. But don’t force them to do it. That’s a surefire way to instill a dislike for exercise later on. They’ve got the rest of their lives to be serious with their workouts. Most of the professional, super strong dudes I know who have kids have never proactively tried to get them to lift weights. For example, powerlifter Chris Duffin makes his living being strong and teaching people how to be strong. But he has a policy of not actively encouraging his kids to lift. If they want to, he shows them how, and he keeps the session light and fun.

Keep the weight light. Your kids shouldn’t be grinding out super heavy singles when they lift. The focus should be on form, not weight lifted. Most adult-sized barbells will be too large for a child. Get a bar specifically made for kids from Rogue. They weigh about 11 lbs.

Standard barbell weights should be just fine for kids. They probably won’t be using the 25-45 lb plates for a while, but most kids should be able to lift a barbell with 2.5-10 lb plates depending on the lift. My four-year-old daughter, Scout, can press the Rogue kid’s bar with 2.5 lbs on each side 5 times without any trouble. That’s 16 pounds total.

If you’d like to have your kids lift even lighter weights, consider buying some microplates. They allow you to make .5-2.5 lb increases in load.

Keep weightlifting sessions fun and playful. The primary goal when kids start lifting weights or doing any exercise program is help them get the movements down and to instill a love fitness in them. Also, a lot of young children just don’t have the attention span to follow a regimented program yet. Just let them play with barbells and provide feedback on form. With my kids, when they come down to “train” with Dad, they put some weight on the kid bar and bust out a few sets, then they go play with something else, before maybe coming back to do another set. It’s not structured at all.

If your kid wants a program, keep the reps high and increase weight gradually. If your kid really wants a program, create one for them but keep the reps high, and increase weight in small increments over a long period of time. One study that looked at youth weight training found that 1 to 2 sets with 6 to 15 repetitions per set was ideal for young children.

Start kids with a weight that they can lift 10-15 times, with some fatigue but no muscle failure. Then gradually make small increases in the weight. Once your kid can easily do 15 reps of an exercise, you increase the weight by 5-10%.

Your kid should always be able to do 10 reps without much strain. If they can’t, then the weight has gotten too heavy for them.

If the weight is kept light and you’re not increasing it every session, letting your kids do 2-3 sessions a week (on non-consecutive days) should be fine. Even just one a week may satisfy their nascent curiosity and interest.

Even If Your Kid Is Following a “Program,” Mix Things Up

Even if your 10-year-old is following a semi-structured weightlifting program, make sure they mix in other exercises. Kids should be exposed to as many physical movements as possible when they’re young. Specializing at a young age can be detrimental to athletic performance later in life, so make sure they throw medicine balls, swing a kettlebell, do pull-ups, and perform simple bodyweight movements and MovNat exercises.

Bottom line: Weightlifting is perfectly safe for your children to do. It won’t stunt their growth and they aren’t likely to injure themselves doing it. Before your kid hits puberty, let them practice the movements as much as they want with a light bar made for children. Don’t introduce regular training that progressively adds significant load to each session until they hit Tanner Stage 4 puberty. Keep on being a good example of fitness until they’re out of the house (and beyond!).

Genetic Ancestry Tests And The Rabbit Hole

Image ID : 62594744
Source: 123rf.com

If you are considering ordering and completing one of those genetic ancestry tests (popular ones are 23andme, Ancestry, and MyHeritage, all of which I have now completed), be prepared for the possibility that you might be on the crest of a journey down into the rabbit hole.  I’ve heard far too many stories of people who made startling discoveries relating to their genetic background and genealogy which at times resulted in conflict within the family.  Mysteries may unfold which leave you with more questions than you may have ever had about your family members or your ethnic makeup.

If we consider the phrase, going down the rabbit hole, we can enter said rabbit hole without thinking that the journey will be as long or as confounding as it can be.  That’s how it was for me initially, and now I find myself searching more than ever before for the puzzle pieces which could solve the many mysteries my biological father left when he died. Although I knew the circumstances surrounding my conception were akin to a soap opera, I never in my wildest imagination expected my story to unfold the way it has.

Before I dive into my own story, and wiggle through the proverbial rabbit hole, I’m going to share this passage from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”:

“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves; here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labelled `ORANGE MARMALADE’, but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.

`Well!’ thought Alice to herself, `after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!’ (Which was very likely true.)

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time?’ she said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think–‘ (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) `–yes, that’s about the right distance–but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I’ve got to?’ (Alice had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say.)”

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 42904359
Copyright : Eugeniu Frimu

 

Thanks to 23andme, a half sister I had never known about contacted me at the end of January with the startling news that we were indeed siblings.  Three days after our initial contact, another half sister surfaced on the site, and we slid down the rabbit hole even farther.

It took some time for the other half sister to respond to our connection requests, but we three are all now in communication with each other.  I have met one half sister and was even able to help her celebrate her latest birthday in February.  The other half sister is lining up a visit so that we can all three see each other face to face and forge the bond we never got a chance to develop as children.

We also have a half brother whom we are trying to locate, but there are numerous barriers, including the fact that we don’t know his name or birthdate, are unaware of which country he currently resides in, and the fact that he evidently is the type of person who would not welcome the news that he has three half sisters.  I have known about this half brother since our father’s death in 1997, but he never signed up for genetic testing analysis, which means we don’t have the convenience of a genetic testing service to do make the connection for us.

We want to find out more about our family tree, but it will be difficult at best to ferret out such information because I have limited knowledge of our father’s mother tongue (Hungarian), and I have no idea who would be privy to such information.  Our father’s place of death is also a mystery, which also means that it will be challenging to discover where he was interred.

Curiouser and curiouser, indeed.

Goals and Intentions

Source: 123rf
Image ID : 133535055
Copyright : pitinan

Every single year since 1996, I have sat down at the end of the year and reviewed my goals list for that year to find out what I was able to accomplish. The end of the year is also a great time to compile a new goals list for the upcoming year. I have been writing out yearly goals for over 20 years, and firmly believe that this habit has been instrumental in helping me to attain some of my biggest aspirations.

These aren’t New Year’s resolutions, they’re intentions, dreams, carrots which I hang in front of me and keep in my line of sight throughout the year. They encompass business strategies, personal goals, career development, finances, home environment, love relationships, friends, family, and health.

Source: 123rf
Image ID : 97561567
Copyright : voyata

If you aren’t already in the habit of writing out goals for the year, I encourage you to do so. When you define what it is you want in your life, you manifest powerful energy which helps to bring those wishes to fruition. Make sure to write your goals in a notebook or binder, rather than typing them on a computer or smart phone. The mechanical act of putting pen to paper triggers areas of the brain responsible for creativity and thinking, and forces us to slow down and digest what it is we are writing.

At then end of the year, you can scan your list to see what you accomplished and what might need to be modified and put on the next list. In a typical year, I check off about 80% of my goals.

Don’t be afraid to dream big and use your imagination! The sky’s the limit!

A Great TED Talk On Clutter

“Clutter is postponed decisions.” – Barbara Hemphill

I absolutely love this brilliant quote by Barbara Hemphill which Kerry Thomas mentions in this TED Talk video, because it is completely true. No matter what type of clutter plagues you, it may be impeding you in a profound way from living a free and peaceful life.

I hate physical clutter and fight it all the time by conducting purges throughout the year. But physical clutter is only one type of clutter, and Ms. Thomas breaks down the different types into the following:

Physical
Mental
Emotional
Digital
Spiritual

Although I feel that I have a good handle on physical clutter in my environment, the other categories are more challenging. I control digital clutter by going through my email inboxes on a daily basis, consolidating images and deleting old text messages on my phone. I also think I have a decent handle on spiritual clutter because I meditate daily, take meditation and yoga courses, and also practice breathwork. I try to forgive those who upset me, and I also make sure to avoid toxic people.

The areas where I get hung up (and I suspect many others do) is with mental and emotional clutter. Ms. Thomas states that mental clutter consists of fears one might have, and it also could stem from the judgmental words of others, while emotional clutter consists of negative thoughts and behaviors. The thing is, I have fears which keep my mind racing, and I also fall into the trap of negative thinking from time to time, especially when I am in the middle of a crisis. So by no means am I completely free of clutter. However, I constantly strive to clear up anything which is depressing me or slowing me down.

It’s incredibly liberating to get rid of items which are damaged, unused, or worn, and it’s also wonderful to let go of all the mental blockades to happiness and freedom. One thing I always try to remind myself is that worrying about things will never bring about a solution. The only thing worry ends up doing is eroding one’s demeanor and sparking anxiety.

I suggest that you think about the different areas in which clutter might be adversely affecting your life, and adopt behaviors which counteract such clutter.

Hear About My Travel Promise To Myself On This Toddcast Episode

https://m.soundcloud.com/toddcastpodcast/stacey-naito-ifbb-bikini-pro-made-herself-a-promise-to-travel-every-2-years

Check out this audio clip from a wonderful interview with Todd Hancock on his Toddcast Podcast, in which I talk about the travel promise I made to myself back in 2014. I’ve been keeping that promise and I’m thrilled about it!

Accentuate The Positive

Stacey Naito Japanese Warrior

We can often be our own worst enemies, laying sabotage upon our own best efforts. The basis of such subterfuge is our own fear-based collection of thoughts, and can be more damaging than any efforts made by others to trip us up. What’s the solution? Banish your fears!

Before you allow that monstrous pull of trepidation pull you into the muck, get into the habit of replacing every single negative and self-defeating thought you have with a positive, hope-filled one.

Yes, every single one.

Perhaps you are doubting your ability to complete a massive work project, and you find yourself grappling with the feeling that you won’t be able to complete it in time, or that you will do a shoddy job because you feel rushed. Instead of feeding that insecurity, tell yourself:

I CAN do this. I WILL do this.

Do this repeatedly until it begins to sink in. Allow your positive thoughts to take up space in your mind, so much so that they push out the negativity.

— mention Bing Crosby’s “Accentuate the Positive”


Every thought can have a negative and a positive spin. Train yourself to turn to the positive. Remember that worry and guilt only eat away at one’s spirit. ——

The last thing you should ever do is to knock yourself down. Someone who is bound and determined to succeed quickly learns how to push away negativity from haters, and never allows a bad day to destroy the success plan which is in place. Successful people have a can-do, will-do attitude which has very little to do with overall intelligence, talent, or opportunity.

So stop beating yourself up, push away the haters, and go for your goals!

Exercise, Self-Care, and Finding the Right Balance to Boost Your Overall Wellness

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Please check out this excellent article by Shiela Olson which explores the delicate balance between pushing yourself to the next level and nurturing yourself at the same time.

– By Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com

You’ve decided you’re ready to stop perpetuating a cycle of sleeping in on weekends, spending weeknights slumped over in your couch, and eating out at greasy burger joints every other meal. You’re ready to live a healthier and happier lifestyle, and you’ve known the answer all along — diet and exercise. Diets aren’t very effective when practiced every other week, and fitness requires you to keep up and even build up the intensity over time.

So, what’s the secret?

The Importance of Prolonging Good Fitness

When someone decides they are ready to start running every day, or some other form of exercise, they typically feel this fire within themselves to keep it up. You go in for your first day, and you feel exhausted, but you also still feel pretty good knowing that you’ve taken your first step at getting healthy. After a few more gym sessions, you notice that you aren’t just tired but also sore, and that goodwill for better living starts to feel a little less compelling.

It’s natural to give it your all the first few times before your mind and body start to naturally resist the transformation that is occurring. It’s the kind of transformation that people from all walks of life seek to make their lives better. It’s why so many recovering addicts start running and bodybuilding. Exercise not only changes how we look on the outside but how we feel on the inside. It reduces stress and boosts positive self-image and confidence.

The process of transformation can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, especially when you’re just starting out, which is why it is important to not overdo it. If you work too hard or put too much emphasis on your physical fitness, you run the risk of burning out and not making the kind of progress you are looking for.

The Meaning Behind Self-Care

Right now, the buzzword of the day seems to be self-care. People are starting to collectively realize that we don’t need to punish ourselves to live our best lives. Exercise shouldn’t be something you dread to do but something you look forward to. To remedy this natural resistance to living healthier and a fitness-oriented lifestyle, people are turning to self-care as a way to supplement diet and exercise and avoid burning out during the process.

One of the ways you can practice self-care is by leaving plenty of rest days in between workouts to give your body time to recover. Recovery is essential to practicing good physical fitness and ensuring you have enough energy to keep going back to grind week after week. Self-care also addresses showing yourself love in alternative ways. Exercise is important for our physical health, but we also need to consider our mental and emotional health as well. Beyond exercise, there are a number of activities you can do, such as meditation, reading a book, or pursuing a hobby, that can all fill a specific need you have in your life.

The Need for Balance in Your Life

When you approach your physical fitness as just one piece of the puzzle, then you can start looking at other ways to enhance your life, while not overdoing your diet and exercise. You won’t just be working hard, you’ll be working smart. You’ll know that there are many activities you can work on to improve your overall well-being. By balancing out these different self-care activities, you will always make yourself better while also keeping a very diverse routine. Some days, you will be focused on your physical fitness, but when you need to rest and recover, you can then switch gears and focus on your mental and emotional health as well.

Once you decide it’s time to make a change, you’ve already started your journey to improve your wellness. You may have attempted to change your life a few times now, but all of those past experiences were just the lead up to this one moment where you finally committed to achieving personal wellness and living your best life.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Looking For Fitness, Wellness, and Life Inspiration?


If you are looking for that fire which will encourage you to reach out towards your fitness, wellness and life goals, then be sure to tune into the motivating, inspiring podcasts at https://micro.fit/ where the motto is, “For big results, think small”. That’s right…small changes in your lifestyle can create dramatic results in your life!

I am honored to be one of the featured podcasters for this wonderful app! My podcast runs on Fridays, so be sure to check it out each week for new topics and fresh perspectives on life balance, goal setting, motivation and fulfillment.

Click on this link to access the podcast page directly:

https://micro.fit/podcasts

Stacking The Deck

“So…what do you DO?”

This question is incredibly annoying to me, and I cringe every time I hear it. I resent the fact that many people are so quick to assess someone on the basis of what they “do” for a living, as if there are no other dimensions which should be taken into account.

I completely resent the demand to pick one career that defines me. To add insult to injury, when people find out that I am a medical doctor, they struggle with the stereotype of what they expect doctors to be like, in other words, very conservative in dress and demeanor, and without any flavor or personality. Well, I’ve got news for you. I will NEVER be a typical doctor. And please don’t doubt my credentials or schooling. I am NOT a nurse (not that there is anything wrong with this highly respected profession). I am a fully licensed and board certified physician.

However, I do not consider myself to be ONLY one thing, “only” a physician. Yes, I am a board certified physician. But I am also a degreed (Bachelor’s) fitness professional, professional athlete (IFBB Pro), certified nutrition coach, writer, model, brand ambassador and contest prep coach. If that’s too much for one to process, too bad. Because I am ALL of those things, and then some. I am just as much about fitness, bodybuilding and wellness as I am about medicine, and I shouldn’t have to choose one over the others. I am damned proud of what I have accomplished in bodybuilding, especially because I was in my forties when I took things to the next level, not when I was a young whipper-snapper, and I was already established in my medical career. I will not apologize to people who are confused by the sampler plate philosophy by which I live and who don’t believe that it’s possible to be more than one thing. Truth is, I live as what Marci Alboher describes in her book One Person Multiple Careers as a Slash, and I am proud of it. I know it’s unusual, but why is that so hard for people to grasp? I mean, here I am, doing all that I do, switching gears constantly, and sending a message to the world that no one should have to be one-dimensional and boring.

I am honest. I have sass, and I speak my mind. I will NOT hide parts of myself which some overly judgmental people may have a problem with. I am NOT going to apologize for having a sense of humor, for using cuss words here and there (though I don’t use them while seeing patients). I am not going to paint a false picture of who I am. If you don’t like what I am doing, no worries. Move on.

Here’s a message to you if you find that you are someone who is compromising your own vision, dreams, or goals, because you perceive a need to choose one thing to define you. Perhaps you need to re-examine why you are allowing that to occur. If you subscribe to a no limits philosophy, then you would never even consider pulling the reins back. I will always encourage driven people to go for whatever they want, and if it doesn’t fit in with the conventions of one of their chosen careers or hobbies, even better. Break stereotypes and show people what you are made of! Don’t hide all the facets which make you who you are!

Mapping Out 2018 Goals

Now that Christmas has passed, it’s time for me to sit down and review my goals list for 2017, as well as compile a new goals list for 2018. I have been writing out yearly goals for over 20 years, and firmly believe that this habit has been instrumental in helping me to attain some of my biggest aspirations.

These aren’t New Year’s resolutions, they’re intentions, dreams, carrots which I hang in front of me and keep in my line of sight throughout the year. They encompass business strategies, personal goals, career development, finances, home environment, love relationships, friends, family, and health.

If you aren’t already in the habit of writing out goals for the year, I encourage you to do so. When you define what it is you want in your life, you manifest powerful energy which helps to bring those wishes to fruition. Make sure to write your goals in a notebook or binder, rather than typing them on a computer or smart phone. The mechanical act of putting pen to paper triggers areas of the brain responsible for creativity and thinking, and forces us to slow down and digest what it is we are writing.

At then end of the year, you can scan your list to see what you accomplished and what might need to be modified and put on the next list. In a typical year, I check off about 80% of my goals.

Don’t be afraid to dream big and use your imagination! The sky’s the limit!

%d bloggers like this: