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How you can teach a teenager to train with weights

Wie Du einem Jugendlichen das Training mit Gewichten beibringen kannst

Here's a quick summary

  1. 1If your idea of how to teach a teenager to train with weights is to just let them do whatever you do, then you will ruin both their motivation (and their body).
  2. A simple 3 day a week program of just bodyweight exercises will get him used to the idea that we train every week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  3. The coolest thing about helping a young person find his way into the weight room and start training with weights is that - if you do your job well - this could be something he could do for the next 50 years.

After months of him nagging and pushing you, you finally agree to take your younger brother to your gym. It might seem like a good idea at first, but then you start to wonder what he's supposed to be doing there.

Your instinct might tell you that you could just have him do the same thing you do, set after set, exercise after exercise. But unless you're a beginner yourself, you'll overwhelm him, ruin his motivation, torture his body with unbearable muscle soreness and probably put him off training with weights for the rest of his life.

The first program: Basic exercises with your own body weight

The aim at this point is to introduce an unathletic 14 to 18 year old to the world of training. This means teaching them the basics of how, what and why, while helping them to build a strong and healthy body.

If the golden rule of any personal trainer is "do no harm", then this concept takes on an even more important meaning when it comes to training teenagers. When motivation, enthusiasm and uncontrolled ego meet new movement patterns, unknown capacities and barbells loaded with weights, it can quickly end in disastrous ways.

The most effective way to introduce a young trainee to training is to start with an intelligently designed program of bodyweight exercises. This allows the trainee to build a base level of strength, muscle coordination/body awareness and conditioning. A little more muscle mass is another very welcome side effect.

Not only do bodyweight exercises promote intermuscular coordination and balance better than free weights (are you really going to put a 20 kilo Olympic bar on the back of a teenager who can't do clean squats using only their own bodyweight?), but they are also good for promoting what Tudor Bompa has termed anatomical adaptation - AA for short.

AA is a phase of training with relatively high repetitions designed to prepare a beginner or deconditioned exerciser for an intense training program with weights. AA is used to prepare the ligaments, tendons and smaller supporting structures before training with heavier weights, lower repetitions and higher intensity.

This type of training also encourages the habit of working out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays during every single week, while introducing our beginner to muscle fatigue and, to some extent, soreness, which they will come to know and love even better later.

Three days a week

Exercise

Sets

A

Squats with body weight

2

12-15

B

Push-ups

2

12-15

C

Alternating lunges with body weight

2

12-15 per leg

D

Pull-ups with neutral grip or horizontal rowing

2

12-15

E

Planks

2

15 sec.

F

Burpees

2

15

This program may look simple, but it's a lot to start with as long as you force clean technique on each repetition and don't rush through the sets.

  • For squats, keep your feet flat on the floor the entire time and don't stand on your toes or heels.
  • Push-ups are performed on your toes, with your legs straight and through the entire range of motion. You can rest your hands on a bench to make the exercise easier if necessary.
  • For lunges, alternate repetitions with the left and right leg, ensuring that the hips move up and down and not forwards and backwards.
  • Use bands for support during pull-ups if necessary or use the multi press as an alternative for horizontal rowing. The neutral grip involves training most of the arms and puts the exerciser in the strongest pulling position.
  • The planks are the easiest part as you just hold the top position of push-ups in a super strict form from neck to ankles.
  • And the 4-second burpees (no jumping required) finish the workout with a little bit of everything - some cardio, some mobility, "hidden" plank training and "hidden" squat training.

"But training with weights stunts growth in teenagers!" Uhh, nope.

A key concept - and perhaps even the most important concept when it comes to training with weights and teenagers - is avoiding muscle failure. Every single set should be completed well before reaching muscle failure, and ideally you should have two reps in reserve.

The old school mentality may be to continue each set until the bar doesn't move another inch, but when it comes to young adults and their still-developing bodies, the underdeveloped underlying structures surrounding the muscle will have been pushed well beyond their limits by the time the muscle has finally reached the point of failure, posing a serious risk of injury.

This is the one aspect of training where the old "training with weights will stall children's growth" myth has merit. Although well-supervised, intelligently designed training programs are beneficial and useful for adolescents, a poorly designed training program and/or poorly supervised training can cause great harm.

Avoiding muscle failure should be a top priority in any training program for younger exercisers up to the end of puberty (or as a general rule of thumb up to the age of 18). And even after that, it's debatable whether training to muscle failure or beyond muscle failure is necessary for everyone.

Phase two

Once the young padawan has built up a useful amount of strength, conditioning and patience with bodyweight exercises, he is ready to move on to a lower body/upper body split program in the weight room. This will allow him to pay more attention to each muscle group per training session, add new exercises to his training vocabulary and, best of all, complete not one but two leg days per week.

Lower body 1

Exercise

Sets

A

Goblet squats

3

8-10

B

Classic barbell squats

4

6-8

C1

Romanian deadlift

3

8-10

C2

Hanging knee lift

3

8-10

D

Standing calf raise

3

10-15

E

Pallof Press - isometric hold(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFspBRHke4w)

4

10 sec.

Upper body 1

Exercise

Sets

A

Pull-ups

3

4-6

B1

Barbell rowing

4

6-8

B2

Dumbbell shoulder press standing

4

8-10

C1

Push-ups

3

8-10

C2

Butterflys

3

10-12

D1

Triceps press on cable pulley

3

10-12

D2

Alternating dumbbell curls

3

6-8

D3

Hammer curls

3

6-8

Lower body 2

Exercise

Sets

A

Deadlift

4

6-8

B

Leg presses

3

8-10

C

Reverse lunges

3

8-10

D

Standing leg curls

2

8-10

E1

Seated calf raises

3

10-12

E2

Crunches

3

10-15

Upper body 2

Exercise

Sets

A

Lat pulldown to chest

4

8-10

B

One-arm dumbbell row

3

6-8

C

Barbell flat bench press

4

6-8

D

Dumbbell incline bench press

3

8-10

E

Side raise

3

10-12

F1

Barbell curls

4

8-10

F2

French presses lying down

4

8-10

If it seems like we're overwhelming a teenager with a ton of exercises, don't worry about this. It's only about 5 exercises per session and his enthusiasm and eagerness to train will help him internalize all those exercises quickly.

Using a training diary will make things a lot easier as the names of the exercises and notes can be written down during training.

The nutrition of young exercisers and supplements

Young exercisers are about as interested in nutrition tips as they are in who the Secretary of State was under Rutherford B. Hayes. Well, that's too bad, because (at least according to the following popular sayings) "Bodybuilding is 75% nutrition" or "Your results will depend 90% on your diet" or "Eat the hell out of it if you want to grow." The conclusion is always the same.

Just as avoiding training to muscle failure is crucial when training for adolescents, there is one fundamental idea that should be the basis of any nutrition plan for young exercisers: adolescent exercisers are not little bodybuilders. They are still developing and therefore need plenty of quality food.

"Mass building" and "definition phases" are not relevant in their situation. Sure, if a teenager is a little heavier and wants to get leaner, then they will eat less to try and lose weight. But what's really important for teens is to develop smart, well-balanced eating habits that promote recovery and growth. Save thoughts of mass-building phases and definition phases for after you've developed a good foundation.

We want to keep things simple at this point with the help of practical and easy to follow guidelines. Teenagers training with weights should eat at least three meals a day, seven days a week. Skipping meals means sacrificing results and progress.

In addition to these three meals, you could add one protein shake per day and a basic training shake on training days to aid recovery after training. And that's it for now on the supplement front.

Once a teenager is training four or more days a week and eating three meals a day, seven days a week, then they can add something like creatine to their diet. And dear parents, calm down again, creatine is not a steroid - and is healthier than much of the fast food that teenagers eat every day.

For teenagers, however, supplements should be kept to an absolute minimum and the primary focus should be on eating good quality food.

Protein sources

  • Meat: Chicken breast or drumsticks, steak, minced meat, minced turkey, pork
  • Whole eggs - and not just the whites. Egg whites are for competitive bodybuilders and you're not one of them, at least not yet.
  • Seafood: Any kind of fish (tuna, salmon, tilapia, etc.), crab
  • Dairy products: Milk, cottage cheese, any kind of cheese, cottage cheese
  • Sandwich meat: roast beef, ham, turkey.

Carbohydrate sources

  • White or brown rice
  • High-fiber bread (not white bread)
  • Oatmeal, semolina porridge, rice porridge
  • Quinoa - a form of grain that contains some protein and can be cooked like rice
  • Potatoes: table potatoes, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, etc.
  • Corn
  • Beans, but more along the lines of red beans, black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans and not baked beans
  • Fruit. Fruit is healthy, so eat it. But remember that in nutritional terms it is a carbohydrate.
  • Vegetables. Vegetables are also very healthy, so eat them.

Sources of fat:

  • Olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • Butter (real butter, not margarine)
  • avocados
  • Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, cashews, other nuts, such as natural nut butters of all kinds
  • Any fats that occur naturally in protein sources: Fish oil, fat in red meat, fat in dairy products, etc.

A combination of foods from these three categories should make up by far the majority of a teenager's diet, but if they also want to eat a few soft drinks, some sweets or other junk food from time to time, then it's not the end of the world.

Yes, we are trying to develop a healthy lifestyle, but telling a teenager to give up 'bad foods' all day long is unrealistic with a teenager and will almost certainly lead to them becoming a social outcast.

If you want to take Junior's diet to the next level, familiarize him with the three essential techniques in the kitchen:

  • Preparing scrambled eggs
  • Cooking hard-boiled eggs
  • And frying some meat in the pan

Knowing how to do these three things can go a long way in helping a teenager meet their daily protein needs.

Train hard and grow

Now, we could talk about studies that have linked training to better performance in school, or we could talk about how a well-structured training program could get a teenager on a team, make them a better athlete, and ultimately give them an edge over their teammates and opponents.

But at the end of the day, the coolest thing about guiding a young person in the weight room and giving them a good start in their training with weights is that if you do your job well, this is something they could do for the next 50 years. And you were a part of that! That's pretty cool, right?

If you get the opportunity to literally shape the next generation of trainers, then it would be a shame to shirk it. Especially if it means you have the opportunity to guide a youngster into a life of iron and strength.

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/teaching-a-kid-to-lift

By Chris Colucci

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