What needs to be considered for teenagers turning to weight training to get stronger in a post Covid, post lockdown society?
Covid caused a break in teenagers normal structured development, they have spent time away from their scheduled school, pe, teams, gym and other physical activities with their friends. This was at a time when many teens would have laid the foundations for their social, physical and neural systems involved in physical activity.
At the same time as the restricted physical activity, teenagers have experienced increased exposure to the unfiltered worldwide social media of exercise advice and physically enhanced influencers. Offering a range of good, bad and just dangerous directions to teens who often have no one to validate the information for them.
With all this in mind, where should we go from here when we have a teenager keen to learn the basics and develop themselves with strength training?
The Base: When it comes to strength training teenagers can’t just be treated as small adults. They will need to build a correct movement base relative to their physical stage of development and progress appropriate to their age.
Neuromuscular Education: Taking the time to build a teen’s neural map is vital, this is the part where they are taught to put their bodies in the correct lifting position and reinforce it enough to maintain this position under load.
The Importance of Progression: Just because there is a need to have a more considered approach when strength training teenagers; it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t see regular improvements and experience the benefits of these. Once teenagers are proficient in their base movements there is no reason why they shouldn’t participate in age-specific programs that challenge and develop their abilities.
Team Spirit: In our experience, we have found that when starting a strength training program, not every teenager will start at the same point or develop at the same rate. We have never had to exclude a child from our program, it just means that some will need a little bit more direction and attention, and indeed are supported by the other teens creating a real supportive community.
Teenage strength training is about more than just developing physical strength. As I have already touched on in this article, we have found that a good strength training program hugely improves confidence regardless of their starting point, a willingness to help others especially when training as a team or school and when done well, creates a healthy life long relationship with exercise and all its benefits.
Finally, I would say, take the time to get the right program for your teenager that allows them to develop safely at their own pace.
• If you have any questions at all about teenage strength training please don’t hesitate to contact Brogan Lintott the Head of the Better Body Group’s Young Athlete Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.