“Research suggests strength training has a lot to offer teenagers in terms of health, fitness and fun,” says Barbara Brehm-Curtis, Ed.D., a professor of exercise and sport studies at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.
“Teens who work out with weights, as well as exercise aerobically, reduce their risk for sports injuries by half. Weight training also helps improve sports performance. It boosts bone density and strengthens tendons”, Dr. Brehm-Curtis says.
Teens interested in a weight-training program, should keep the following guidelines in mind.
Weight Training vs. Bodybuilding
Weight training or weight lifting is different from bodybuilding. Weight lifting focuses on improving musculoskeletal strength and total fitness, whereas bodybuilding focusses on aesthetics (how you look), and involves many single joint and isolation exercises which are not recommended for adolescents.
Fit vs. superhero
Teens should train for the right reasons, training to increase strength, improving their physical fitness, co-ordination, body-composition and sports performance — while reducing injury risk.
A good weight training program focusing on technique, co-ordination and proper execution before increasing intensity through weight or speed.
Parents should be alerted if their teens are using weights to achieve a superhero like body which could indicate an obsession with how they look, and may lead to other issues, which can cause serious damage.
Children and Teens should be supervised while strength training or weight lifting. Programs such as CrossFit Auckland Kids and Teens, is age and development appropriate, and led by Coaches educated and experienced in child and youth exercise programs. Programs should include a general warm-up, usually involving bodyweight calisthenic exercises and active mobility (also known as dynamic stretching),
The best programs emphasise education, proper technique and use compound multi-joint exercises that work the whole body and improve overall strength and conditioning.
Injuries are more likely to occur when teens compete to see who can lift the most, vs supervised weight training programs where students track their own fitness and progress, rather than compare themselves to others.
Tailored to the individual
Training programs whether Personal Training or Group Training, should consider the individual/s and their current skill development, and growth stages.
It’s got to be Fun
We encourage non-competitive and fun. Most organised sports are highly competitive whether they are team or individual in their nature. At CrossFit Auckland Kids and Teens Fitness, we encourage a focus on individual development and improvement, and the group celebrates everyones achievements.
Strength and conditioning exercises should be part of an active lifestyle that includes plenty of other physical activity. Kids and Teens should feel comfortable with the program and look forward to it!