Weightlifting for Adolescents - Guidelines for Lifting Safe
Adolescents often become interested in bodybuilding because they want to be better received at school. The skinny guys all want to develop bulk while the overweight guys want to exchange their fat for muscle. Adolescents want to feel strong and able to protect themselves, and they all deserve the confidence that comes with a well toned body.
While it's clear that a healthy body with a lot of lean muscle mass is just as beneficial to a adolescent as it is to an adult, the experts have entered a hot debate on whether weightlifting is safe for adolescents or not. Adolescents as young as 13 or 14 are now entering bodybuilding contests and there are adolescents that have more muscle than most grown men. While some say this is perfectly safe and healthy others argue that an adolescent's body is not finished growing and weightlifting is unsafe.
Adolescents need to be supervised when they are strength training and parents must use their best judgment when determining what is appropriate for their child and what may be crossing the line.
You are never too young to start strengthening the body with movements that use your own body weight. This would include push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, crunches, tricep dips and lunges. Kids who are into sports and martial arts often start doing this type of strength training when they are very young and some adults have even transformed their bodies with their own body weight alone.
A weightlifting routine for a teenage should start with a brief warm up and end with a brief cool down. Before they start lifting weights they should be taught the proper body form for each movement that will be included in their workout. Adolescents just want to jump in and start pumping iron, but without proper form they are likely to get injured.
Most experts agree that adolescents should also stick to free weights, since weight machines are designed for the adult body. If weight machines are used it should be under close supervision of an adult familiar with the machines.
Adolescents should start out with some rather basic movements until they develop stronger muscles and greater body coordination. Some good movements would include:
Weighted Leg Raises
Dumbbell Bench Press
Seated Shoulder Press
Adolescents can also improve balance and coordination by combining squats or lunges with dumbbell lifts for the arms. The trick is to stick with less weight and go for more repetitions until puberty has been passed and the body is finished growing.
What to Avoid
It is not safe for adolescents to work out for long periods of time, to use very heavy weight, or to do complicated movements that require a lot of body balance and coordination. Very heavy weight could hurt tendons and joints as the body is still growing and developing. A adolescent's body is also not as coordinated as an adult's body to handle more complicated movements.
There are many benefits to weight training for adolescents. They will have a healthier body and the exercise is likely to lead into a healthier adult lifestyle. Young athletes will also see improvements on the field or will be more likely to get positions on college teams. The benefits will far outweigh the risks as long as it is done safely.