Strength training tips for teens

By Metro Creative
Recreation & Fitness

Many young people begin strength training regimens as teenagers.

When done in conjunction with cardiovascular training, strength training is part of a balanced exercise regimen that can help teenagers develop strong, healthy bodies.

But strength training carries some risk, and teenagers should exercise caution as they begin strength training.

• Always exercise under supervision. Many teenagers begin strength training through their participation in scholastic sports. That means they’re likely to be supervised by coaches and trainers. But those who have no such supervision should only perform strength training while under the supervision of their parents, trainers or another adult.
Adult supervisors can advise teenagers on the proper form when strength training and make sure youngsters are not overexerting themselves.

• Don’t turn strength training sessions into competitions.
Often teenagers prefer to exercise in groups. While group exercise sessions can be beneficial and keep kids motivated, teenagers should not turn such sessions into competitions. Doing so may encourage teenagers to lift more weight than their bodies can handle, increasing their risk for injury.

• Stop if something feels off.
Teenagers should stop strength training immediately if they feel any pain, popping sounds or other symptoms of injury or discomfort. Athletes can speak with a team trainer while teens who are not working out with a team can speak with their parents and physicians. Teens should explain symptoms in full, giving honest answers when trainers or physicians ask about levels of pain. Stopping a strength training session at the first tweak or sign of something extraordinary can prevent serious injury.

• Don’t strength train too much. Muscles need time to recover from strength training sessions, so teenagers should limit their strength training sessions to about three times per week. Strength training on back-to-back days can contribute to injury in young athletes, so teenagers should give their bodies at least one day off between weightlifting sessions.

• Use light weights at first. Teenagers may not know where to begin in regard to how much weight to lift. The medical resource WebMD advises teenagers avoid heavy weights when beginning strength training sessions, instead choosing weights they can easily lift 10 times, with the last two repetitions being increasingly difficult. Weight can then be slowly increased as teens gain strength and feel no pain. WebMD also notes that teenagers should avoid heavy weights until they are fully through puberty to avoid damage to their bones and tendons.