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Health Information For Teens
A balanced exercise routine includes aerobic (cardio) activity, stretching, and strength training.
Walking, running, and swimming are examples of
activity. Aerobic activity strengthens your heart and lungs. Stretching improves your flexibility. Strength training uses resistance, like free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or a person’s own weight, to build muscles and strength. Teens may want to strength train to improve sports performance, treat or prevent injuries, or improve appearance.
People who work out with weights can use:
People can also use resistance bands and even their own body weight (as in push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and squats) for strength training.
If you haven’t started puberty, strength training will help you get stronger but your muscles won’t get bigger. After puberty, the male hormone,
, helps build muscle in response to weight training. Because guys have more testosterone than girls do, they get bigger muscles.
Besides building stronger muscles, strength training can:
Before you start strength training, visit your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to lift weights.
When you get the OK from your doctor, get some guidance and expert advice. Trainers who work at schools, gyms, and in weight rooms know about strength training. But look for someone who is a certified strength-training expert and experienced working with teens.
The best way to learn proper technique is to do the exercises without any weight. After you’ve mastered the technique, you can gradually add weight as long as you can comfortably do the exercise for 8 to 15 repetitions.
When lifting weights — either free weights or on a machine — make sure that there’s always someone nearby to supervise.
Having a spotter nearby is particularly important when using free weights. Even someone in great shape sometimes just can’t make that last rep. It’s no big deal if you’re doing biceps curls; all you’ll have to do is drop the weight onto the floor. But if you’re in the middle of a bench press — a chest exercise where you’re lying on a bench and pushing a loaded barbell away from your chest — it’s easy to get hurt if you drop the weight. A spotter can keep you from dropping the barbell onto your chest.
Many schools offer weight or circuit training in their gym classes. Or check out your local gym to see if you can sign up for a strength training class.
Strength-training programs are generally safe. When done properly, strength training won’t damage growing bones. Kids and teens with some medical conditions — such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, seizures, or heart problems — will need to be cleared by their doctors before starting a strength-training program.
When you’re in the middle of a strength-training session and something doesn’t feel right to you, you feel pain, or if you hear or feel a “pop” during a workout, stop what you’re doing. Have a doctor check it out before you go back to training. You may need to change your training or even stop lifting weights for a while to allow the injury to heal.
Many people tend to lump all types of weightlifting together. But there’s a big difference between strength training, powerlifting, and bodybuilding. Powerlifting concentrates on how much weight a person can lift at one time. The goal of competitive bodybuilding is to build muscle size and definition.
Powerlifting, maximal lifts, and bodybuilding are not recommended for teens who are still maturing. That’s because these types of activity increase the chance of injuries.
Some people looking for big muscles may turn to anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. These substances are risky and can cause problems like acne, balding, and high blood pressure. They also increase the chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and sterility.
Here are some basic rules to follow in strength training:
For best results, do strength exercises for at least 20–30 minutes 2 or 3 days per week. Take at least a day off between sessions. Work the major muscle groups of your arms, legs, and core (abdominal muscles, back, and buttocks).
Doctors recommend at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. So on days when you’re not lifting weights, aim for more aerobic activity. Also, drink plenty of liquids and eat a healthy diet for better performance and recovery.
Visit our nutrition and fitness center for teens to get information and advice on food, exercise, and sports.
Winning is all that matters when you play sports, right? Not when that means you can’t even enjoy the game. Read about how to handle sports pressure and competition.
Compulsive exercise can lead to serious health problems. Lots of people don’t know when they’ve crossed the line from healthy activity to unhealthy addiction. Read about ways to tell.
Playing hard doesn’t have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.
You practiced hard and made sure you wore protective gear, but you still got hurt. Read this article to find out how to take care of sports injuries – and how to avoid getting them.
Will using steroids transform you into the most powerful athlete your coach has ever seen? Read this article to learn the facts on steroid use.
Sports supplements are products used to enhance athletic performance. Lots of people who want to improve their performance have questions about how supplements work and whether they’re safe.
Looking for a workout program that’s easy to learn, requires little or no equipment, and soothes your soul while toning your body? Read about yoga – and watch our slideshow for some easy poses to try.
You’ve prepared for the game in almost every way possible: but now what should you eat? Read about performance foods, nutritional supplements, and more.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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