Read an Excerpt
“For the children will inherit our earth.”
Have you ever said (or thought) any of these things about your
• She needs to be in better shape.
• How come he seems to be out of breath during a game
even though he’s at practice five days a week?
• He’s got to get stronger if he wants to make the team.
• They spend too much time watching TV, texting, and
playing video games.
• How come he’s so involved in sports, and is still too fat?
• She’s skinny, but if she had to run anywhere, I think she’d
• I think what I’m feeding him is right, but how come he’s
still so heavy?
What are you doing about it? Perhaps you’ve read all the
articles, watched all the specials, spoken to all the coaches,
and now you have a plan—or, at least, you think you do.
If your child is overfat* you know you should send your child
to soccer camp, make him or her try out for the basketball
team, throw out the television, insist on long family walks,
and banish all fatty foods from the home.
If your child is weak and skinny, your plan is to do almost
the same thing. If your kid’s athletic, you do everything the
coaches tell you and encourage your kid to follow the coach’s
advice. Do all this, and your son or daughter will slim down,
beef up, improve athletic performance, and live happily,
healthily ever after, correct?
Let me say right here and now that I will tell you—sometimes
bluntly— that many widespread beliefs about fat loss,
athletic performance, diet (a nasty little four-letter word),
and exercise for kids are completely false, dangerous, and
inane. I’ve got two daughters of my own whom I love as
you love yours and I’ve had it up to here with the lies and
Truth be told, almost all the so-called fitness programs
for getting kids lean and strong are either wrong or misguided.
Almost all the books on the subject of how kids should eat are
wrong. As we all know, kids today are more unfit than ever
before in history. Fewer kids walk or ride their bikes to school,
work on farms, or carry heavy books. Mass transportation,
minivans, and electric scooters have decreased the amount of
*I use the term overfat instead of overweight throughout the book because
a child’s weight isn’t the real issue. Having too much fat is the issue. And by
using this choice of words, we keep our eye on the target. Remember, there
is nothing wrong with body fat. A certain amount is healthy and vital to
health. But too much can be unhealthy. What your child weighs doesn’t really
matter; however, his body composition does matter. A large-boned, tall child
may weigh in as overweight for his age, but he may be perfectly healthy and
possess a normal and healthy level of body fat.
locomotion kids do: farming is now almost entirely motorized
and electronic; heavy traffic makes riding a bike to school
too dangerous in many places; and heavy textbooks are often
replaced by their electronic counterparts. This is not, however,
the main reason so many children today are overfat and
unhealthy. Well, what should we do about it? What can we
do about it?
All right, I’m going to tell you something shocking. Get
ready. There is one type of exercise program that will not only
solve all of these problems but also address, solve, and fix all
of the previously mentioned queries and questions that parents,
teachers, doctors, and other adults have. That exercise program
is weight training, which is also known as strength training or
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF
STRENGTH TRAINING FOR KIDS?
The benefits of strength training are profound and comprehensive,
and include the following:
• Increased lean body mass (bone and muscle)
• Improved flexibility
• Improved body composition (less fat/more muscle)
• Improved base metabolic rate (calories burned)
• Increased muscle strength and power
• Decreased fat mass
• Gaining of confidence and self-esteem
• Improved general fitness
• Greater resistance to injury
• Reduction in the severity of injuries sustained during
other physical activities
• Improvement in all aspects of cardiovascular health
(cholesterol, blood pressure, aerobic endurance, power,
• Improved coordination
• Help in stabilizing blood sugar to offset type II diabetes
• Improvement in the ability to perform physical activities
• Encouragement of kids to participate in physical activities
Why do you need this book? Well, if the previous questions
are ones that you’ve thought about, this book is your short,
simple, and safe answer to improving your child’s life in ways
that no other type of exercise or eating plan can achieve. If you
follow the program within this book, your kid will be given the
best chance possible to run faster, jump higher, trim down,
and gain confidence in ways that no other type of program
offers. All the information is grounded in science. The plan is
universal, meaning, all kids can benefit. The results, as you
will see in Chapter 2, are profound and heartwarming. And the
bonus is that it can work for you, too!
Strength Training for Kids
In this book, we are talking about a strength training program
designed for kids. And the best part? It takes only 30 minutes
of training a week.
This “miracle” cure is actually simple. In strength training,
specifically, slow and controlled speed strength training, you do
each exercise very slowly using an appropriate weight or
resistance until the muscles being worked are totally fatigued
or exhausted after several repetitions, generally lasting for
60 to 90 seconds per exercise. Why slow? Instead of letting
momentum take over for a portion of the exercise (as happens
when you jerk or toss a weight too fast), you push or resist
the weight under control, asking the muscles alone to do all
the work, which reaps a proportionately greater reward. And
theoretically it’s safer.
IS SLOW SPEED STRENGTH TRAINING
SAFE FOR KIDS?
The American writer Mark Twain is known for his witty and
poignant remarks. He is credited with having said: “The truth
is easy to kill. But a lie well told is immortal.”
I want to state up front and center that if done correctly
and with proper supervision, weight lifting or strength training
is completely safe for kids. I’m sure that you’ve heard around
the playground and in the schoolyard that weight lifting is
dangerous for children. Even some doctors still hold this myth
as a truth. The common thought by people who don’t know
better is a fear of damage to the bone growth plates. Yet there
has never been a single such case ever reported in medical
literature. Others say it can delay a child’s musculoskeletal
development, when the opposite is true. Studies have proven
that strength training actually benefits musculoskeletal growth
in kids—dramatically so. In an eight-week study on fifth
graders, 20 boys and girls strength trained twice a week for
20 minutes and improved their body composition almost twice
as much as their nontrained peers1. In a similar study using
11th grade ice skaters, almost the exact same results were
achieved.2 In another study conducted over one year with
nine-year-old girls, the results of strength training showed a
6 percent greater increase in bone density than those girls
who did not strength train.3 And while in this study a so-called
high-impact strength training protocol was used, no injuries
were reported. It is also important to note that the researchers
in this study, after scrutinizing the data, determined that
increases in muscle (lean) mass was the primary reason why
bone density and all of the other positive outcomes were
DOES STRENGTH TRAINING DAMAGE GROWTH PLATES?
As mentioned earlier, one safety concern regarding weight lifting
or strength training in children involves growth plates.
The growth plate, also known as the epiphyseal plate, is the
growing tissue near the end of the long bones in pre-adults.
Every long bone has two or more growth plates at each end.
The growth plate determines the ultimate length and shape
of the adult bone. When growth is completed, which occurs at
some point during adolescence, the growth plates close and
are replaced by solid bone.
A common misconception is that strength training can
somehow injure a child’s growth plates. When and how this
myth got started is a mystery. It is simply not true. Perhaps the
myth was conjured up by the misconception of what strength
training is. According to an article by the National Institutes
of Health (NIH), the cause of most growth plate injuries is acute
trauma such as a bad fall (gymnastics), a strong blow to
a limb (football), or overuse (long-distance runners).
If you look at how most people lift weights, you see a
violent and high-impact scene. It could be that experts or
doctors knowing that growth plate injuries are caused by violent
acts warned people off weight lifting for kids assuming that
they could get hurt doing so. (Not bad advice if you ask me.)
But weight lifting doesn’t have to be such a violent affair.
Excerpted from Strong Kids, Healthy Kids by
Fredrick Hahn. Copyright © 2009 Fredrick Hahn. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.
All rights reserved.