By Amelie R.
*I have some video links below the post. I summarize them throughout the post and links are provided so feel free to watch them as you read.
A family in the States has been named the strongest family in the world. Nick and Cali Best are both Strongman contestants. They train many hours a day and push themselves to extremes to increase their strength. They have two children, Dylan (age 11) and JJ (age 5). What is controversial about this family is that Nick and Callie both push their children to do heavy strength training along with them. Dylan can easily do deadlifts and Olympic lifts with ease. He routinely deadlifts 130lbs. A grown woman deadlifting that weight would have excellent strength. JJ can do one arm pushups and has lifted 100 lbs. To put it into context, a 5 year old is suggested to lift 1 pound dumbbells. Also to compensate for this increase in activity, both Dylan and JJ eat twice the amount of their daily recommended calorie intake.
For years, strength training has been prescribed to improve the quality of life of many individuals. It improves bone strength, overall heart health, and mental health to name a few. The main concern with these children is that they are beginning to train far too intensely for their age. Children haven’t fully developed their nervous system yet, and are still not fully aware of their always changing bodies. Lifting weights takes much coordination, balance and awareness of one’s limits. If pushed too far, it can cause injury. You also have to wonder a bit if the parents are pushing their children too far with their own obsession. In the video, you can see that Dylan is trying to lift a pair of 85lb dumbbell weights. Nick Best watches him and encourages him to keep lifting despite Dylan having a terrible form (rounded back) and obviously struggling with the weight. Nick himself admits to be obsessed with lifting weights and becoming stronger. He appears to be pushing them so hard that he is blinded by the idea that perhaps he may be putting his children at risk. Putting high expectations on children that are unrealistic can be detrimental to youth development. These kids could feel that there is no other option other than lift weights like their parents. This could really restrict these kids.
One comforting thing is that the kids appear to be enthusiastic about lifting, which will help them develop a good attitude towards exercise later in life. Another child similar to Dylan and JJ is a boy named Aaron, also from the United States. His father coaches him to achieve records for competitive weight lifting. In one video, he is shown squatting 48kg (105 lbs). His father pushes him hard, but does show concern about hitting his child’s limit. I do believe that this sort of competitive exercise is good for children, and it makes for an early start in the child’s athletic career. The only concern I have is that the parent must be aware of the child’s limits and understand that they might not want to push themselves to their maximum potential like the parent. Also, understanding body self-awareness is key. I remember hitting my growth spurt and my coordination faltered. Training for really young kids like JJ should be focused more towards learning and perfecting the basic movements, not to attain records. I also think that these parents should discuss priorities. For Nick and Callie Best, their lives are completely surrounded by strength building. School work, friends, and free play were never mentioned in any of the videos. I hope that these kids can have fun and down time away from the constant training they are assigned to do.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAkqiDF4wCY Strongest family in the world
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMx7rDE4m0w Strongest kid