If your fitness goal is to become bigger and stronger, resistance training is for you. Adolescents who strength train are able to see the same results as adults, including muscle growth for kids who have reached puberty says Kids Health.
With more adolescents playing sports, adding a resistance training program to your schedule not only allows you to get stronger, it may also reduce risk of injury. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that kids and adolescents include muscle-strengthening activities at least three days a week.
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How to Begin
Start every training session with a five-minute warmup to increase the blood flow to the body and prepare for physical activity. A warmup should include a light-intensity cardiovascular exercise such as jogging or jump roping. Stretching can also be added to the warmup as well as sport-specific exercises such as high knees or butt kicks.
When you are warmed up and ready to go, choose a weight that can be lifted for two sets. Your muscles should feel tired after the second set. When you are ready to increase your weight, increase it gradually and decrease the number of repetitions you perform. This will lower your risk of injury and muscle soreness. During your workout, give yourself plenty of time to rest between sets, and make sure you drink plenty of water.
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Although there are many exercises to choose from when working your upper body, you want to make sure you train all body parts equally. This means not just focusing on those mirror muscles such as the biceps, but on your entire upper body: chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders and back.
Multi-joint exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, bench presses, incline presses, dumbbell presses and lat pull-downs work more than one body part, meaning they are efficient and effective exercises. Using several of these in your program along with isolation exercises such as bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, triceps extensions and lateral shoulder raises will create a program that strengthens your entire upper body.
Multi-joint exercises for the lower body include squats, lunges and deadlifts. If you are new to these exercises, focus on achieving proper technique and form before adding weight. This will reduce your risk of injury. Isolation exercises such as standing hamstring curls, reverse curls, leg extensions and calf raises allow you to focus on a specific part of your lower body and should be part of your program as well.
Ab and Core Exercises
A strong core allows for greater stability, balance and strength when performing activities such as running, lifting weights and kicking a ball. Your core incorporates the lumbar region of your back as well as your pelvic and hip area. Stability ball crunches, Supermans and rollouts on a stability ball are all exercises that will help strengthen your core.
Your abdominal muscles are also part of your core: rectus abdominis, transverses abdominis and the internal and external obliques. These muscles help support and protect your spine. Add sit-ups and crunches to your program to strengthen these muscles. Raising your legs during these exercises will add extra work for your lower abdominals.
Think Outside the Box
If you do not have access to a gym or to dumbbells, says Kids Health, you can use resistance bands, medicine balls, milk jugs or phone books to lift. Advanced movements such as burpees or incline push-ups can be added to your program once you have been training for a while and are comfortable with the movement.
If you are new to resistance training and have questions about technique, look to professionals for assistance. Personal trainers who have specialty certifications or experience working with adolescents will be able to provide you with a program that is specific to your goals. School districts may also offer classes, especially in the summer, that are geared toward strength training.