Note from Jim: The following blog is largely taken from the Jim Wendler Forum. This post details our thought process on training James this summer. We started training him early on and this past summer (2022), we amped it up.
This past May, My wife vowed to James that it was going to be a Summer of Growth for him. It was the "off season" prior to his 5th and final year in elementary school. And the changes ahead require next level strength, effort and confidence if you want to be successful (not just get by).
So what does a summer of growth for a 10 year old look like? He had swim training and basketball skills and drills each one day a week, he was in a few different sport camps (not intense, no specialization, not competitive), we took him to a couple new places/experiences, pushed the academics at home daily and got much more serious about his training. Every day he had a series of goals to accomplish and miraculously, he's gotten better at all these tasks. And not surprising, his attitude is way better because he is making progress. For example - James had to read for 20 minutes every day of the week, do 20 minutes of typing every weekday and do 1 hour of math lessons every Thursday. You customize the goals to fit whatever schedule your family has as a whole. In the beginning, it was akin to trying to reason with a rhino. After a few weeks, he got so much better that he was proud of his progress and it's no longer a huge-f**king-deal to get him to do tasks like these.
Juliet and I have been trading off coaching his lifting. We have a lot of daily commitments - but it got done nearly every day, regardless. I can hear the internet now - "Every day? How is this possible? Doesn't he get sore? What about his cortisol? Does he take ice baths? Definitely taking steroids. FAKE NATTY!"
It's almost impossible for a healthy, active kid to get sore when trained at an age appropriate level. He doesn't have enough muscle to get sore. He doesn't have the inter/intra muscular coordination to get sore/tired. He absolutely never maxes out. Just like many of us, 15-30 minutes everyday is mostly a demand on our commitment and discipline. You aren't asking for a kidney. And he's not going to BUDs. But the learning experience of what is possible when you are consistent is just as valuable as the training. On days when it was squeezed into the day, we acknowledged the push it takes to get in the gym and even call some sessions "clock punchers". Just get in, do the work, and get out. Training sessions were typically 15-30 minutes of training with the heat and his attitude being the biggest variables but Juliet's strength and conditioning challenges could be longer. Again, heat played a big role and rest periods were not restricted. There was a goal to be reached regardless of how long it took. It should be noted that the biggest discipline burden is definitely on the parents to follow through with the schedule they create. That comminitement can be daunting on a hard day.
He does "normal" lifting - bench press, squat, press, deadlift, DB squat, chins - all the usual things. But now we've added more Prowler work. More jumps. And we've slowly pushed the work. For example he did 20 rounds of the following.
- Prowler x 40 yards (30 extra pounds)
- Push-ups - 5
- Chins - 1
And on another day, pushed the prowler with added weight for a mile around our neighborhood which we lovingly refer to as the Prowler Marathon.
We stress quality, quality, quality. Attention to detail on the lifts. I do not chase numbers; either with James or as a coach for London HS Football. The results have been amazing. The other night I hugged James good night and he just felt different. Like a stump. Now he's still a skinny SOB and if YOU didn't know him prior - you wouldn't think anything of it. But holy shit - what a difference.
Keep in mind that I'm NOT training him to become a scholarship athlete or anything like that. I'm training him like this because this should be the standard in anyone's life. There is no need for anything complicated with training; especially with young kids. But they need to be physically fit to keep as many doors of opportunity open to them as possible. If you knew how little you had to do, consistently, to make a big difference, you'd be blown away. It's worth the effort.
Fun Fact: James would rather train with me than Juliet. Juliet drops the Hammer of 1000 Deaths.
At least I let him play with the fan. - Juliet