Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Best Age To Start Bodybuilding (And When You Are Too Young)

At what age should people start working towards becoming a bodybuilder? Can you be too young to start? We tackle these questions to settle the score, once and for all.

Adding context: What is the best age to start different sports?

The age that children start gymnastics

Oureverydaylife.com says that some gyms have tot classes for children to be introduced to gymnastics at the age of 18 months old. Other gyms have beginner gymnastic training courses that start at the age of 12. It quotes The American Academy of Pediatrics of recommending that children under 6 years old don't start organized sports like basketball and football, because they aren't ready yet. They haven't developed enough for the challenges that these sports might bring. It recommends, however, that children from the ages of 2 to 5 years practice motor skills. Motor skills create mind to body connections and include exercises like catching, throwing, running and tumbling. 'Lessons' should be centered on playful activities and games. Gymnastics classes could, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, start from 2 to 5 years as long as lessons focus on motor skill development and take maturity level into account.

Children aged 6-9 could also start gymnastic classes after they have developed a little more. Our Every Day Life cites a different organization, USA Gymnastics, for endorsing gymnastic courses for children under 3 years old, attended with a parent. They recommend that children start out during pre-school years, but clearly state that there is nothing wrong with starting later either. Oureverydaylife.com says that the youngest age a child could start gymnastics depends on the individual. Some children are more comfortable with certain movements while others might need more time. Additionally, individual attention span also plays a big role.

The age that children start other sports

Joe Haefner from www.breakthroughbasketball.com says that people should not spend too much time trying to teach children under the age of 8 the art of basketball. He recommends focusing on playing games that incorporate a variety of movements, instead of specific basketball skills. He says that this is an important way to start developing athletes that will best perform at the age of 18. He also says that the kind of 'training' in early childhood stages should prepare younger players for all sports and that it should only become more specific to a certain sport, like basketball, as the child ages.

Children between ages 6 and 9 are in their 'guided discover' age and partake in outcomes activities that embody fun. Between ages of 10 and 13, lessons can become a little more technical. These lessons still need to be mostly centered on being fun and playful. After this age, training can become a lot more technical and competitive elements can be significantly increased. 

The above applies applied to sports like soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, cricket, hockey, dancing, volleyball and so on.

Back to the answering the question about bodybuilding in particular...

Will bodybuilding at a young age stunt your growth?

Not according to Jay Horowitz from bodybuilding.com. He says that the idea of weight lifting stunting growth is a widely misconstrued myth. No studies, according to Jay, have ever shown that weight lifting stunts a person's growth. 

One of the biggest risks involved with bodybuilding in children and teens is steroid abuse, which can be easily avoided. Steroids are dangerous and are particularly dangerous to younger individuals. Young people should never use steroids... ever. 

There is also a risk of injury, which is just as likely to occur in younger people as it is in older people. The focus should therefore focus on proper form and lifting weight properly when starting a weight training program - regardless of age. Another risk of injury occurs as a result of overuse: Working the same muscle groups too much without giving them enough time to rest. 

Jay lists the most important elements essential when children start weight training as supervision, light weights, technique and high repetitions. These repetitions should be in the high 12-20 rep-per-set ranges. Teenagers can decrease their lowest rep range to 10 repetitions per set. Children below their teen years should work out in a non-competitive environment. 

Jay adds that children should not be aggressively pushed by parents or coaches to train past what is comfortable for them. Qualified supervision and coaching (to oversee proper execution of exercise, adherence to low intensity levels and limited duration) is highly recommended. He advocates free weight training (which closely resembles sports movements) and steering clear of machines, which are better suited to older trainers.

Moral of the story

  • Below the age of 10, children should do activities that are fun. The goal of these games should be to teach them to move around and discover how their bodies work. Low intensity, playful activities benefit these children most.
  • From 10-13, adolescents can start light forms of strength training. High repetitions are best (12 reps or more per set). Body weight and compound exercises should be avoided.
  • Teenagers can increase their intensity, but still not below 10 reps. Focus should be on perfect form and sufficient rest.

The age you are at does not determine whether you can start working towards a career in bodybuilding or not. It simply determines the best way to go about achieving your goal. STAY STRONG!