Health & Fitness: How to get started with strength training for youth

Published 3:34 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2021

By Bill Villarreal

Have you ever wondered when your child should start lifting weights and what the options are to get them started properly? Establishing what age to start, what exercises to do, how often and how much resistance is used is only part of it.

Bill Villarreal

Starting out with an assessment of their strength, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular profile is just a beginning. Training youth is not the same as training adults. You have to be able to recognize the warning signs when they are trying to do too much. Age is not a linear factor because you have to look at athletic ability, maturity and if they are prepubescent.

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If you research (I suggest that you do) resistance training for youths, please don’t stop at just one article. You will find that there are differences of opinions on this subject. One thing that is a constant is that a properly designed program that is monitored by a qualified trainer is supported by scientific evidence for youth resistance training.

Participating in a properly designed resistance training program is just as important for non-athletes. Here is an example of some of the health benefits:

• Body composition

• Cardiovascular risk profile

• Reduce body fat

• Improve insulin sensitivity

• Strengthen bones

• Enhancing psychosocial wellbeing

Over the last three decades, I’ve spent a lot of time strength training middle school and high school athletes. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’ve spent a lot of time traveling across this country (Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle and Dallas) to learn from some of the best fitness professionals in the country. The best of the certifications that I have attained over the years comes from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. I have used their methods of phase training to guide me in achieving the best results that I can offer. The values attributed to this type of training have a positive effect on health, psychological well-being and reduction of injury, just to name a few.

Please remember that there are a lot of phys ed teachers, coaches and athletic trainers who are very qualified trainers. The Albert Lea Family Y and other local fitness centers also have qualified trainers.

In closing, I’ve often compared resistance training to learning how to golf. You should start young with a proper instructor to teach form, mechanics, rhythm and breathing. Without this you will just be a crappy golfer like me and many others that I have seen on the courses.


Born and raised in Albert Lea, Bill Villarreal has been a group and personal trainer for over 30 years. Having served in the Air Force, Minnesota Air National Guard and working in law enforcement for 29 years, he brings a structured approach that produces results. He has become passionate about helping teens find a positive outlet via sports and weight training.