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Weight Lifting and Strength Training Tips for Teens

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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.

Q. Do I Have to Breathe a Certain Way During Strength Training?

A. Always remember to exhale during exertion (pulling up a weight), and inhale on the downswing. Many people forget about doing this. But if you intentionally practice the breathing, you'll remember.

Q. What Can I Expect From Strength Training?

A. You'll feel stronger with strength training, and find it easier to be physically active. You'll have more energy and you'll probably lose weight, depending on how regularly you work out. Some findings estimate that for each pound of muscle you add to your body, you burn an additional 35 calories to 50 calories per day. So, an extra 5 pounds of muscle will burn approximately 175 calories-250 calories a day. That's an extra pound of fat every 14-20 days. Guys will look toned and see a difference in muscle size; girls will look fit and toned. Sometimes your actual weight may stay the same but your body will feel firmer with more defined muscles.

Strength Training Tips for Teens

For teens wanting to start strength training, here are some tips for getting started:

Warm Up and Stretch. Always warm up before starting your workout routine. A warm-up like walking in place or riding a stationary bike for 5-10 minutes boosts circulation and prepares muscles and joints for activity. After you warm up, do some stretching to increase flexibility. Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds. Don't overstretch or bounce during the stretch, to avoid straining your muscles and joints.

As you plan your strengthening program, start two to three times per week for about 20 minutes. Allow at least 48 hours between sessions for your muscles to recover.

It takes several weeks to see results with a strengthening program, so once you make the commitment, stick with it. Over time, you'll notice a difference in your strength and appearance.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on February 12, 2014
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