Resistance Training for Your Teens: Investing In their Future

“Due to the prevalence of today’s technology, our youth has become more and more inactive.”

The positive impact of physical activity and formal exercise to keep the adult population healthy is receiving increased attention. Due to the prevalence of today’s technology, our youth has become more and more inactive. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States. This has generated a renewed interest in having our teens involved in formal, structured exercise programs.

Resistance training is a form of physical activity that is designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance. It is the process of stressing the body to increase muscle size, strength and endurance. The term is often used interchangeably with strength training.
It should be part of a balanced exercise routine that includes aerobic activity and flexibility exercises.

The positive physical and mental changes of a resistance training program are numerous. They include a leaner body composition, maintaining a healthy body weight, increased self-esteem, reducing stress, and supporting the immune system to stave off colds and flu. For our youth there are additional benefits which include aiding in the development of interpersonal skills, supporting the building of friendships and improving school attendance and academic performance.

There are myths about the safety of resistance training for teenagers.

Research today suggests that resistance training and weightlifting are safer than many other sports and activities. The injuries that occur with resistance training are mostly related to poor exercise technique due to a lack of supervision or direction by a trained fitness professional. The myth that resistance training stunts growth is unfounded. Weight bearing exercise is necessary for healthy bone development and participation in a resistance training program can maximize bone mineral density during childhood and adolescence.

Because teens are still developing, an exercise program must be created using appropriate parameters such as inclusion of light weights, incorporation of recovery time, and managing the volume of work. After an appropriate warm up, training should begin with body weight or very light weights. Correct form should be achieved before any progression occurs. A teen is also likely to need more time to recover after a training session. A full body program with at least one day of rest in between will help ensure safety. Exercising the major muscles groups with a lower volume of reps and plenty of rest in between is important.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has identified that children benefit from resistance training programs and suggests that they would benefit from an age-appropriate exercise program. Generally ACSM says that a child ready for organized sports or activities is also ready for some type of supervised strength training.

The best ways to get your teen started with physical activity is to employ an experienced certified personal trainer who has expertise in working with kids or teens. A personal trainer will play an essential role in developing a balanced program for the age and fitness level of the teen, ensuring proper technique, form, progression of exercises, and safety. If needed, the exercise program can also focus on sports specific training, increasing their skill and preventing injury. The trainer should have a plan to track workouts and progress. They should also have a personality that works well with your child. For children who don’t like organized sports or group fitness activities, working with a private personal trainer allows them a safe environment and removes the feeling of being self-conscious.

Providing your teen the opportunity to participate in a formal, safe structured exercise program is an important step in taking control of their overall health and quality of life. Getting started at a young age creates healthy habits that lead well into adulthood and promote a lifelong journey into fitness.
The benefits of exercise are incredible and worth making the investment!

For more information and to schedule a consultation with Lynn at Fitness Together Tysons visit: fitnesstogether.com/tysons

LYNN ORTIZ
Lynn Ortiz was born and raised in the D.C. metropolitan area, Lynn graduated from JFK High School in Silver Spring Maryland and University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. Her new career in personal fitness is far removed from the 30 years she spent in the corporate consulting world. Most recently, she worked for an IT consulting firm in various operational leadership positions. She came to Fitness Together in 2008 and lost 45 pounds as well as half her body fat. The impact that Fitness Together had on her life instilled a passion in her to pursue this work. Lynn made a huge decision to change careers and began working with Fitness Together Tysons in early 2010, becoming an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AAFA) Certified Personal Trainer. She is certified by the American Senior Fitness Association as a senior personal trainer, and she is also a Certified Holistic Health Counselor. She enjoys working with the baby boomer/senior population because of how fitness can impact their health. To learn more about Fitness Together Tysons, visit http://fitnesstogether.com/tysons or call 703.289.9909