Family 411: Teen strength training

Fitness specialists urge safe strength training in teens (WSYX/WTTE)

Parents have often expressed concerns over possible dangers of kids lifting weights too soon. Fitness specialists say teens who want to improve in their sports and get stronger, find success faster in strength training.

At The Ohio State University Heit Center, Johnny Steckel works with teen fitness.

Steckel said trainers would want to make sure a child's growth plate is closed, which usually occurs from age 12 to 14. "That tissue starts to form in the bone and they are able to have weight loaded equipment and bare some of that load," said Steckel.

The experts said parents should make sure teens don't try to do too much too soon in the weight room. "A child may want to push an aggressive amount of weight or attempt to do something that they are not physically literate or capable of at that moment," said Steckel. "Emphasize things like form and gradual progression as opposed to jumping the gun early and maybe going for too much weight."

"It has tremendous effects on cholesterol levels,blood pressure,resting heart rate , development of bone density,all stuff very important especially as we grow and get a little bit older," said Steckel.

Blythe Ferguson,17 and Sydney Hill, 16 have trained with Steckel. Ferguson said they warm up with at least ten minutes of light aerobic activity before strength training.

"Definitely stretching and getting your body loose so you don't pull anything , you just want to be warm. So you want to do cardio before you get into the weights," said Ferguson.

The teens often work out together said Hill. "I think a friend definitely pushes me so much more than I would on my own. Maybe the friend is stronger in places that you aren't so she keeps going and that builds the competition,so that makes me want to go just as hard as my friend."

Hill said she started cross fit training in eighth grade and then later started strength training. "I think it definitely shows if you play any sports , anything where you need , basically any sport you need muscle, and if you play a sport like lacrosse you need the arm muscle, you need the leg muscle , you need the endurance."

Ferguson it's important to challenge yourself when your work out.

"You want to sweat. You want to be breathing heavy. You want to feel like it' s hard. Like nothing is easy." Then teen said staying fit will help you in every day life and make you stronger.

17 year old Zach Smathers said his attitude improves when he is working out.

"It gets your mind on something else and you don't need to worry about all the stress on your daily life. You work out and that is all you are focused on."

Student athletes said where ever you work out, there are lessons to be learned by committing to a fitness and strength training plan. "I think it just builds grit inside of people because you know to push the uncomfortable,which I think can come later in life, with other things not just working out."

Steckel said strength training builds character. "It takes dedication, it takes commitment and it takes seeing something through."

Experts said strength training can protect your child's muscles and joint from sports-related injuries. Even if your child isn't interested in sports, it can strengthen bones and improve your child's confidence and self esteem.

"There is a misnomer about strength training in general that it's often very dangerous but I would say it is probably more dangerous to be weak in certain spots or inefficient in certain spots," said Steckel.

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