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Teen Health

Weight Lifting and Strength Training Tips for Teens

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Q. What if I Don't Have a Gym Membership?

A. You don't have to go to a gym to do strength training. Teens can use resistance bands from a sporting goods store, free weights, and do water-resistance exercises. You can even use cans of vegetables or fruits from your kitchen pantry as free weights!

Q. Should I Use Heavy Weights?

A. Don't use heavy weights yet! Teens should start out with lighter weights, proper form, and more repetitions. A good rule of thumb is to start with a weight you can easily lift 10 times, with the last two repetitions being increasingly difficult. For some teens, this might be 1 pound to 2 pounds. If you are strong and fit, you might start at 15 pounds to 20 pounds. When lifting, move the weights in a smooth, steady motion. Avoid jerky movements and sudden drops.

As your muscles gain strength, and if there is no pain, slowly increase the weight in 1- to 2.5 -pound increments if using free weights, in 5-pound increments if using gym machines. Stay away from very heavy weights until you are fully through puberty and growth, as it could damage tendons and bones. Make sure you warm up and incorporate stretching as part of your weight training.  Talk to your doctor or PE coach about the type of weights that are best for you.

Q. Is "No Pain, No Gain" True?

A. No pain, no gain is a myth. If it hurts, you're using too much weight or resistance. If your muscles are very sore, do not do strength training until you are relatively pain-free.

Q. Will I Get Bulky and Inflexible?

A. To look toned and lean, it's important to do other exercises along with strength training, including stretching and endurance exercise (like walking, swimming, stepping).

Q. Will Strength Training Give Me Flat Abs?

A. You can't "spot-reduce" abs or any other body part with exercise. You need to exercise the total body for maximum results. However, properly done abdominal "crunches" will improve abdominal muscle tone. Again, you need to be trained in how to do these correctly for best results without injury.

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