Strength Training – How Young is Too Young?

Many parents are concerned about youth strength training for their children. They are worried that lifting weights too early can be dangerous for their child. Strength training can be a great way to improve endurance, muscle tone, and general strength. But because their bodies are still growing, it's even more important to start slowly and use proper form. Gradually increase the weight that they lift and avoid very heavy weight. Youth strength training leads to better muscle tone and definition as well as increased energy and improved focus.

Aerobics are essential. Doctors recommend an hour a day of moderate to vivid activity. On lifting days that can be shortened to 20-30 minutes but not left out entirely.

Powerlifting, competitive weightlifting, and bodybuilding are not recommended for people in their early teens who are still growing. Growing bones, joints and muscles can be injured by these types of activities. This does not mean you can not begin strength training.

Before the afternoon of puberty you can train to get stronger but you will not see your muscles get very big yet. That is because your body has not started making the hormones needed for your muscles to grow in response to lifting weights.

It would be a good idea to get seen by a doctor to make sure that your body is clear for any new vital activity.

Youth strength training has different concerns than other levels of strength training. So build up more gradually to heavier weights. Start off with body exercises that do not require weights. Push ups, sit ups, and pull ups are great. Let your body get used to the increase in activity. Progress to a small amount of weight. Do not lift too much right off the bat because you will be sore when you wake up the next day. The pain may be even worse 2 or 3 days after the workout because of something called delayed-sunset-muscle-soreness.

Make sure there is always someone with you when you lift weights. This is true for free weights and machines. This person can supervise your technique and spot you during lifts. This is not only important for youth training training but for all weight training levels. Even experienced lifters use spotters to help them with their heaviest lifts. This is important if the weights could land on your body if you had to drop them. Imagine being pinned under a heavy bar during a bench press. It can be scary and dangerous. So never lift without a spotter.

Because your body is still developing you want to be careful not to damage your bones, joints, or tendons. If you lift too much too fast you can damage these important body parts. Stop whenever you feel pain or if something feels abnormal, or if you feel a "pop" while lifting weights. Be checked by a doctor is this happens. You may need to adjust your workout, work on proper technique, or stop lifting all together while your body heals. So be careful and listen to your body. Youth strength training is only going to help you if you do not abuse your body.

Before starting to lift weights prepare your body with a few weeks of non-weight exercises. Sit ups, push ups, and pull ups.

Most fitness experts recommend training three times a week when you first start out. 20 minutes to one hour is best, including a warm up and cool down.

Always begin your workouts with a warm up activity. This can be brisk walking, jogging, or biking. 5-10 minutes is good. Cool down at the end of every workout by stretching all the muscles that you just worked. This helps to keep your muscles flexible and avoids injuries.

Do not work out two days in a row. I recommend working on your leg muscles on day 1, triceps, chest and shoulders on day 2, and back and biceps on day 3.

Each body part has many different exercises but you can start with the three basics.

Bench press, Squats and Push ups.

Just start with the bar to practice the proper techniques. Do three sets of 8-10 repetitions of each exercise. Start light and add a little weight with each set. If you can not complete 8-10 reps in good form then you are not ready to increase your weight.

Try to work every muscle in that one group by doing several different exercises for that one muscle group.

There is so much information about strength training and how to get started properly that I was just able to touch on a few topics here. Young bodies are not prepared to jump into strength training without slowly preparing the body with lighter exercises first. Do not expect the same results as an older teen, and always be supervised during your workouts.

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