Professional exercise trainer, more than 20 years
Certified, American Council on Exercise
President/Co-founder, The National Council for Exercise Standards
Founder, Serious Strength ™, Inc.
Has lectured extensively on exercise at Princeton, Mt. Sinai Hospital, and others
Wife, Linda; Daughters: Georgia, 9; Amber, 7
Fred Hahn: Strengthening Our Youth
By Mimi Elliott
The 700 Club
IT’S A MYTH
Fred Hahn says its a myth that kids shouldn’t use weight training to be strong and healthy. He says for most practical purposes, “as your strength goes, so goes your health.”
Fred believes the best time to be strong is during youth. From all his years of research, studies indicate that weight training for kids enhances bone density. Preadolesent girls who strength train experience four times greater bone mineral density during their ninth year of life than those who don't perform resistance training.
In one study, Fred said that a group of ten-year-olds increased their overall strength by 74 percent after two months of strength training twice a week. They also increased their lean muscle mass by two and a half pounds and significantly increased bone mineral density. More important, strength training makes noticeable physical improvement that makes children faster, leaner, stronger, happier and healthier.
Although some people think strength training is boring, Fred says he has never had that response from his youth program participants. For children who are overweight, they enjoy both the process and the results. Heavier children usually perform poorly in sports that involve speed endurance and agility. They usually use higher resistance than their lighter peers which makes strength training a highly reinforcing physical activity for them. As youth develop a stronger musculoskeletal system, they experience improved physical capacity and performance power which encourages them to be more active and athletically inclined.
First, resistance training burns six to eight calories per minute when performed in a circuit training format. Second, after a few weeks the new and conditioned muscle requires more energy for tissue remodeling and maintenance purposes resulting in a higher resting metabolism.
“If every family followed my exercise and eating plan, childhood obesity in this country would greatly diminish,” Fred said. “Childhood Type 2 diabetes (caused by poor diet) would be eliminated.”
Fred’s book includes training basics, slow speed exercises and a strong kids-healthy kids eating plan with kid-ready recipes.
SAFE, EFFECTIVE STRENGTH TRAINING
While strength training may be the most important physical activity for youth, it must be performed in a safe and effective manner. Fred advises against fast and momentum-assisted strength training as explosive movements with added resistance can place excessive strain on joints. Instead, Fred emphasizes using slow and steady training with weights to make an athletic kid faster and stronger. It also is better for fat loss than aerobic activity.
Strength training performed properly challenges the cardiovascular system more adequately than cardio exercise. Fred utilizes two 20-minute sessions a week and suggests that parents participate in their child’s strength training. It is important that parents coach younger children and keep their eye on older ones.
Although strength training can have positive results in young athletes, it will not turn the average child into an Olympian or a heavily muscled superhero. Genetic factors limit how well a child can perform and the body the child will ultimately grow into. Age and maturity also factor into whether a child is ready to train with weights.
Fred’s daughter, Georgia, is 9 and regularly trains with her dad. Fred’s other daughter, Amber, is 7 and Fred said she is not quite ready to get into a routine.
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