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My son is 15½ years old and started to do an awful lot of calisthenics training for a year+ now. He is extremely dedicated to the exercises, extremely stubborn, and is looking at studying sports (this is in France).

During this summer he is training about 5-6 hours a day, doing something like 500 push-ups, 500 pull-ups, and many hundred other things with 30 kg of weight (worn through some jackets that look like protections against bullets). he also:

  • uses a bar to do the exercises and does not go to a gym - when at home he goes to an outdoor kind of mini-gym with bars.
  • runs quite a bit too (about 10 km every few days).
  • eats some wheat and besides this eats a lot of proper food.
  • keeps a rhythm of 2 days of training, and 1 day of rest.

His physique is impressive (he weights 80kg without any visible trace of fat anywhere) and it came to a point where I have to help him to make sure he does not impact his health long term.

The major problem is that he does not want to listen - he is more into following several youtube trainers and this is the place he learns about how to do things "properly". Not really the kind of source I would trust most.

My initial plan was to get him a coach (even for a few hours) so that they check if he is doing fine, but that is very difficult because, well, he is a teenager and the words of wisdom from his failed father do not reach him (I am slightly joking here to reassure myself).

I have three main questions:

A) from the description above, how would you rate the risk he is taking (on a scale from 1 to 6). The kind of advice I am looking for here is from grown-up people who exercise in a rational way and have some experience. This is to initially rate the urgency of taking this under control (or not). This is really a rough estimation - for someone who has done sports but never with this intensity

B) should I seek advice from a doctor, and if so, what are the questions I should ask?

C) should I seek advice from a coach, and if so what could be some arguments (specific to sport) I can use that could get into a head of a 15½ yo.


Some context: we have a "tense" relationship - but only in the context of a rather rebellious teenager and his parents who are not up to the game. From past experience, I hope this will pass in a few years when he matures (which, slightly, is happening). He tells me a lot about his exercises, sends me videos, etc. Also, all other father-son topics are liberal. This is to say that as of now, I need to have good arguments, not necessarily the kind of rational ones bit rather ones strictly oriented towards sport (this is also the reason I posted my question here and not on SE Parenting)

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    What makes you think this would impact his long term health?
    – Dark Hippo
    Jul 22, 2022 at 8:29
  • @DarkHippo: mostly the intensity. He is already extremely bulky, at only 15½. On the one hand, I am worried about the immediate impact (injuries, though this is a lesser concern), and then on his overall development.
    – WoJ
    Jul 22, 2022 at 8:59
  • Some youtube trainers have solid exercise advice (not all of them of course), what makes you worry about the ones he follows?
    – Luciano
    Jul 27, 2022 at 8:44

1 Answer 1

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Nothing that you describe seems necessarily alarming. I'm a little confused about "500 pull-ups" and "5-6 hours of training per day", but some young men can tolerate that kind of workload.

I recommend encouraging him and developing a dialogue based on genuine curiosity about what he's doing. He's clearly trying to involve you in his perfectly healthy and normal interest. Instead of trying to convince him he's doing something wrong (which it's not clear he is), just express that you're impressed and ask questions: how he arranges his training, what he plans to do next, whether he prefers X or Y, that kind of thing.

One aspect where you might be able to provide missing feedback is making sure he is being concrete about how and where to develop this interest into a realistic lifestyle: where to study, how to apply, what is involved with starting an athletic business.

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  • Thanks for the information. The "parenting" part will be fine - he is going through adolescence, has an older brother whom he can admire (or hate, depending on the day :)) and we have a normal dialogue, including his studies (physiology of sport, probably). My only concern right now is the intensity for his age.
    – WoJ
    Jul 24, 2022 at 18:34

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