Strength Training For Tweens

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For years, parents and coaches have cautioned against Tweens( youngsters, ages 8-13), engaging in any form of strength training. Claiming that strength training would “stunt the growth” of Tweens, by putting too much strain on young muscles, tendons and growth plates, most parents and coaches have stayed away from any forms of strength training.

Recently, such renown medical institutes as the Mayo Clinic and The American Academy of Pediatrics, have encouraged controlled, well supervised strength training for Tweens. Strength training has many benefits, for the Tween ages, up to Seniors.

Some key benefits are:

  • Increase in muscle strength and endurance.

  • Helps to protect muscles and joints from sports related injuries.

  • Makes bones stronger

  • Burns more calories

  • Helps to improve athletic performance in all sports and activities.

  • Develops confidence in looking good and feeling stronger.

  • Improves mental health

  • More likely to be focused at school

  • Puts Tweens on a positive path to lifelong fitness.

When initiating a Tween strength training program, follow these helpful hints:

  • Check with the Tweens primary physician. Especially , if there is any history of illness or injury.

  • Exercise using light resistance weights.

  • Exercise in a controlled environment with parental supervision.

  • Learn proper technique and follow the proper technique during all exercises.

  • Stretch and do a light cardio warm-up before starting actual strength training.

  • Stretch at the end of each workout.

 

Things to avoid during Tween fitness training:

 

  • Don’t use strength training as a competition. This will cause the Tween to “over lift”. Use correct technique etc

  • Don’t rush thru a workout. Be balanced and in control.

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When starting a workout, do a correct and thorough stretching routine. Do some light cardio activity, such as running in place, or working on an exercise bike to get fully warmed-up. Set-up a total body workout. Upper and lower body. At younger ages, 8-14 years old, use strength training every other day. Take a rest day in between to do other activities, soccer, basketball, tennis, bike riding. This will keep the Tween from getting bored with the same routine everyday. For more serious athletes, ages 14 and up, possibly use one day for upper body and the next day for lower body and cardio work. Listed below are three upper body exercise and three lower body exercises to get a program started. A starting program, might encompass, 3 sets of each exercise, doing 8-10 repetitions. These repetitions can be increased, as the Tween becomes comfortable and stronger with their routine.

 

1.     Standing Single Dumbbell Tricep Drop:

  • Feet shoulder width apart

  • Knees slightly bent.

  • Dumbbell behind your head. Raise the Dumbbell to a fully extended position and lower to a fully extended position.

  • Repeat until desired number of repetitions are completed on all listed exercises.

2.     Standing Two Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  • Same starting position.

  • Raise both Dumbbells upward, to a fully extended position.

  • Lower, pause and repeat.

3.     Standing Two Dumbbell Cross Body Curls

  • Same starting position

  • Both arms should hang loose, next to the hip area. Bring one Dumbbell across the body, slightly touching the opposite shoulder and return to starting position. Keep back straight and head up, eyes forward.

  • Do the same, for the opposite arm. Alternate until the entire set is complete

4.     Standing Two Dumbbell Squat

  • Same starting position

  • Hold both Dumbbells at shoulder height, facing forward.

  • With back straight, head up and eyes forward, behind straight down to a half squat position. Pause one second and raise back up. Repeat, until set is completed.

5.     Standing Two Dumbbell Forward Lunge

  • Same starting position

  • Step forward with the right leg extended, lower to a one leg squat. Bring right leg back to starting position. Repeat using left leg. Repeat, until set is completed.

  • Do not overstride. Stay balanced.

6.     Lay On Back, Single Dumbbell Crunch 

  • While laying flat ,hold a single Dumbbell behind the head, with both hands. With straight arms, raise the Dumbbell forward and at the same time, raise straight legs to a center of body position. Dumbbell and feet should meet in the middle of the body in a crunch position. Slowly return to starting position and repeat.

  • Similar to strength training for older participants, huge results and improvements will not come overnight. Tweens will experience the plateaus as adults, but sticking to a consistent plan will result in physical and emotional improvement.

Mike Zinn