Weight training benefits teen girls by enhancing their athletic performance, strengthening their bones and tendons and decreasing their risk of sports injuries. When combined with aerobic exercise, it also helps them maintain a healthy body weight, control their blood glucose levels, improve their heart function and help them sleep. To avoid injuries, teen girls should pursue weight training programs under the guidance of a coach or fitness professional.
Before beginning a weight training program, a teen girl and her coaches or trainers must consider her age and stage of physical development. Because their bodies are still developing physically, teens should not engage in powerlifting, competitive weightlifting, bodybuilding or any adult-level programs, which can lead to bone, muscle and joint injuries. Instead of highly strenuous or repetitious sets, teens should work out in 30-second intervals followed by rest breaks.
Weight training programs for teen girls should use appropriately sized equipment. Some adult machines may be too big for young women whose bodies are still growing, making the use of them difficult and dangerous. Substitutes include free weights such as dumbbells and kettlebells or body weight exercises such as pushups, lunges and squats.
Weight training programs for teen girls should include two to three sessions per week and should avoid training the same muscle groups on consecutive days. While emphasizing the muscle groups most used in her sport, each girl should train all of the major muscle groups to maintain a healthy body and reduce her risk of injury. Teen girls should always warm up with light cardio before beginning a session. Rest days are important to allow the muscles to repair and rebuild and to prevent overtraining.
When beginning a weight training program, teen girls should not expect to experience the same muscle gains as their male counterparts. The hormone composition and dominant presence of estrogen in teen girls facilitates a higher percentage of body fat and limits their potential to create muscle bulk. Estrogen also makes a teen girl’s ligaments more relaxed, which must be factored into her weight training program as a potential source of injury.