With an increase in media attention on the importance of working out to stay healthy and promote a good looking physique means more and more teenagers are starting to become interested in working out.
With this group training at a young age however there are some considerations that need to be taken to ensure they stay healthy and are able to workout optimally.
Proper Training For Teens
First, when it comes to weight training it is best for newcomers to start by performing bodyweight exercise or exercises with very light weights. Since they are just learning they need to be sure that they have mastered correct form before they progress to lifting heavier weights.
If they don't, they are going to put themselves at a much higher risk of injury. Additionally, since this is a brand new movement for these beginners, getting used to working the muscles in this way will be advantageous before moving on.
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Teen Amateur Of The Week: Matthew Campbell
The second factor to consider when setting up a program for a teenager or beginner who is new to weight lifting is that they are likely going to take longer to recover initially from their workouts than more advanced lifters.
It is best to start them out with a full body program, performed two to three times a week, rather than putting them onto an advanced push/pull, 4 day a week or body part split plan. This will give their body at least one full day to recover between sessions thus reducing their risk of overtraining.
Volume of each workout also needs to be tailored and is best done by keeping track of how they feel after each workout and making adjustments as necessary. Provided proper nutrition protocols are being followed, they should not be experiencing any prolonged fatigue symptoms if their training program is effective. If they are, there is likely too much volume or intensity, either in the form of too many exercises, too many sets or too many reps.
A good place to start is performing 2 sets of 8-15 reps (depending on the amount of weight lifted) with two exercises for the major muscle groups (chest, quads, hamstrings, shoulders and back) and one or two for the minor 'helper' muscle groups such as biceps and triceps. Make sure this individual is also taking enough rest in between each set to allow full recovery.
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Teen Amateur Of The Week: Mike Lehman
First it will help to increase their bone density, thus reducing the chances that they will see breaks later on in life.
Secondly, adding lean muscle mass while they are young will help them to maintain weight later in life as the more muscle mass they have, the more calories they will burn on a daily basis.
Finally, a third benefit that is seen is just that by instilling an active lifestyle as a younger person it will increase the chances that they continue to lead an active lifestyle later on in life. This is very important as it is becoming more and more common that many adults are leading a very sedentary lifestyle.
One common idea out there is that weight training will cause stunted growth among teenagers. While it may not be a good idea for very young teens to go out and try lifting massive amounts of weights as if they were training for a bodybuilding competition, lifting weights that are appropriate for their strength levels is very beneficial.
Onto the nutritional aspect of teens and beginners starting a training program, especially with teens, they need to understand that their energy intakes are going to go up. Their bodies are going to need more calories in the form of both protein and carbohydrates so this needs to be met with larger and potentially more meals and snacks.
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The same principle applies for any beginner starting training, however, if it is someone who is older starting out it may not be quite as noticeable as their energy intakes will be slightly lower to start out with since they are no longer growing. Teens on the other hand are in their rapid growth phase and require a great many calories to begin with, so add training to this and it can get hard to take in enough.
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Teen Amateur Of The Week: Sam Morris
On top of that, special care should be taken with regards to their body image. During the teenage years their bodies are changing a great deal and many who begin training do start to become more aware of how they look.
This can lead to some serious body image problems such as eating disorders, where one feels like they need to constantly be thinner, or alternatively the opposite, body dysmorphic disorder (more commonly seen in males) where they do not feel like they are ever big enough. If not treated soon enough both problems can built into much larger and more serious psychological issues that can lead to a whole host of physical and mental problems.
| Muscle Dysmorphia:
Muscle dysmorphia is a disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with the idea that he or she is not muscular enough. Sometimes referred to as bigorexia or reverse anorexia nervosa, it is a very specific type of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
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As long as proper care is taken with ensuring proper nutrition and a realistic view of their body is maintained (for example, reducing behaviours of constantly comparing themselves with others or getting into the habit of spending endless hours in the gym) these issues should be able to be avoided.
So if you are a young teen or beginner who is looking into getting involved with weight lifting these are some important considerations to think about. It is well worth the time and effort to plan an effective and safe program if you want to instil good habits and promote a lifelong journey into fitness.