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What to know about strength training for teenagers

When done properly, strength training can increase muscle strength and endurance, help protect muscles and joints from injury, improve sports performance, strengthen bones, promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boost metabolism, help to maintain a healthy weight, and improve self-esteem and body image.

When starting a strength training program it is very important teens receive proper supervision and learn proper form and technique. Teens, should begin with a total body training protocol of higher repetitions (ex: 1 set of 10-15 reps) and light to moderate weight, at least twice per week on nonconsecutive days, and progress over time to using heavier weights.

Guidelines for teen strength training

• Perform one to three sets of each strength exercise.

• Use enough resistance to complete 10 to 15 properly performed repetitions.

• Increase the weight load by 1 to 5 pounds upon completing 15 good repetitions.

• Use moderate movement speed that emphasizes controlled muscle effort rather than momentum (four to six seconds per repetition).

• Use full range repetitions rather than abbreviated joint actions.

• Train two or three nonconsecutive days per week.

• Train with competent instructors.

• Train safely.

• Train progressively.

• Train consistently.

When it comes to strength training, your options are not only limited to weights or machines. It is actually better for teens to use free weights, bands, and bodyweight exercises since most gym equipment is built for adults and may not fit them properly.

Not only does strength training offer many bonuses to today's youth, it can put your child on a lifetime path to better health and fitness. I will be holding classes for young women on strength training starting in January. Class size is limited and will be kept small so I can effectively monitor proper form and technique. Feel free to contact me for more information or to sign up.

Corinna Maggy is the owner of Women On Weights, a health and fitness program developed specifically for women, and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. Maggy offers private personal training, small group classes, and individual weight management programs. She can be reached at 605-3549 or by e-mail corinnamaggy@yahoo.com. The information contained within Health Matters is not a substitute for professional medical examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program or beginning any nutritional regimen.

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