At age 14, you may want to get a "six-pack" to look more like the models you see on TV or to improve the way your body looks at a pool party. Having strong abdominal muscles can improve your athletic performance and reduce your risk of injuries -- although, you don't need "six-pack" abs to be physically fit. If it is your goal, however, with patience and persistence, you may be able to get visible results when you follow a healthy exercise routine.
Before You Begin
Young teen bodies can be in very different stages of development. For instance, if you're a male 14-year-old, you may be tall and have a deep voice or you may still sound and look like a child. Both scenarios are normal. Keep in mind, however, that you may not see bulky muscles until your body develops further because bulking up is dependent on higher levels of the hormone called testosterone. Set up a meeting with your gym coach or a personal trainer to get tips on creating a workout that's ideal for your level of physical development. Your coach is likely to recommend strength training over bodybuilding because lifting too much weight at once can strain young muscles and tendons, according to MayoClinic.com.
Elevate Your Heart Rate
Most 14-year-olds need about 60 minutes of exercise every day to stay at a healthy weight and maintain strength and endurance. If you have a little 'extra' covering the muscles in your stomach, doing cardiovascular exercises -- exercises that get your heart pumping for an extended period and make you break a sweat -- will help trim you down and increase your chances of having visible abdominal muscles. You don't need to be a sports nut to get in some quality exercise, either. Biking, swimming and dancing are just a few of your options.
Get Stronger Abs
There's no such thing as an exercise that will burn just belly fat, but doing stomach-specific exercises will help you tone your abdominal muscles, according to TeensHealth from Nemours. One strengthening exercise that specifically targets the major muscles in your abdomen is called the bicycle maneuver. Start it by lying flat, face-up on an exercise mat or other comfortable flat surface and press your lower back into the ground. Lightly place your left hand on the left side of your head and the right hand on the right side and tighten your midsection. Bring both legs up off the ground about 6 inches, keeping them straight, and then slowly twist your abdomen to pull your left elbow and right knee toward each other. Alternate by twisting your abdomen to the left, pulling your right elbow and left knee together and extending your left leg. Continue rotating like you're riding on a bicycle until you fatigue.
Set Healthy Expectations
Some teens, even after puberty, don't have the body composition for building a "six-pack." For example, you may have inherited thick skin that hides your stomach muscles no matter how hard you try to build them up, but don't take this to mean that you're weak or that you should give up on working out your stomach. Keep in mind that strength training offers many physical benefits, including increased endurance, stronger bones and a faster metabolism.
- American Council on Exercise; New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises; Mark Anders
- Health Services at Columbia: Weight Loss Tricks for Big and Chunky Teens?
- KidsHealth from Nemours: Strength Training and Your Child
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: OK for Kids?
- Center for Young Women's Health at Children's Hospital Boston: Sports Nutrition & Fitness FAQ's
- TeensHealth from Nemours: How Can I Get Six-Pack Abs?