Health Tips

When can teenagers start going to the gym?

In many gyms, young people can train from the age of 14. But is muscle training useful during growth? What precautions must be taken?

In the age of social media, fitness influencers are the new sports icons for many young people, like bodybuilder Chris Bumstead. Almost 18 million people follow the muscular Canadian on Instagram.

For comparison, the top three in the men’s tennis world rankings total 16 million. The result of this is that more and more young people are interested in weight training.

Gym chains have reacted and are attracting an increasingly younger audience. Many adolescents between 14 and 15 years old exercise in a gym, both girls and boys. But is that a good thing?

What are the benefits of strength training at a young age?

Strength training stimulates metabolism in our bones. This makes them denser and they don’t break as easily, explains Dr. Stephan Geisler, Professor of Fitness and Health at IST University Düsseldorf.

As we age, muscle atrophy and osteoporosis are problems that require attention and can limit us. So if you start training when you’re young, you’re also investing in your future.”

Also, our muscles have a kind of “memory effect”. This means that we can return to our previous form more easily after longer breaks in training.

Of course, strength training can also be done at home, you don’t need a gym for that.

From what age can teenagers train?

In some gyms, young people can already enroll at the age of 14. However, from a medical point of view, it could also be sooner.

The myth that strength training can inhibit body growth is unfounded, according to expert Geisler. On the contrary, our body has to be challenged in order for it to develop.

When a baby is on their tummy, they eventually raise their head, which is the heaviest part of their body. So we actually do strength training early on, in this case for the muscles around the cervical spine.

Then, it is true that in the gym you can do things well or badly. Therefore, the knowledge and individual maturity of the young person is more important than age. The following points must be taken into account:

  • How is the training carried out?
  • Can you exercise responsibly?
  • What is the motivation to train?
  • Are you the right height to use the chosen machine?

It also makes no sense to sign an annual contract with the gym if there is a risk that the teenager will lose interest after two weeks.

How should teenagers train?

The machines and elements that most gyms have are adequate to gain an initial experience with muscle training, as long as adolescents receive adequate guidance on how to do the exercises, otherwise injuries could occur, but the same goes for adults , which are not free from mistakes.

Parents should take a close look at the gym and find out if the employees are properly qualified to explain how each apparatus works and to see that the execution is correct.

Does my child exercise too much?

There is no general limit to training. The body has the last word. Joint pain or signs of tiredness could be a sign of overtraining, as in many sports.

If the teenager trains according to a varied plan, in which, for example, he works his arms today, and tomorrow his legs, then there is nothing wrong with going to the gym seven times a week.

What are the dangers?

Bodybuilders with injected biceps, fitness models with edited photos on the internet… people who go to gyms are exposed to models that cannot be achieved naturally.

Young people cannot be expected to know how to distinguish what is real from what is artificial and they are also looking for role models, says the sports psychologist. That is why it is important that parents educate their children about it.

On the other hand, it is necessary to watch that the gym does not concentrate all the attention of the boy in such a way that he neglects his studies or relationships with classmates, friends and family. It is possible to become addicted to sports.

There is also the risk of injury, for example from poorly adjusted equipment or incorrect performance of exercises. Excessive training can also cause symptoms of overload.

What about dietary supplements?

Young people who train should adjust energy and fluid intake to the increased demand. The only reasonable way to do this is to eat healthy meals to get the basic nutrients you need to build muscle.

In fact, the fact that the young person wants to exercise is an opportunity to introduce him to the basic knowledge of nutrition and cooking. It won’t be hard for you to understand that diet is just as important as exercise.

Protein shakes today and doping tomorrow?

The young man is likely to be attracted by advertising for protein shakes. It is worth showing him quality information about it and teaching him that what is important is food, not supplementation. In any case, it is also possible to make good use of protein supplements as long as they are of the highest quality and used in moderation.

Good training in food, habits and health is essential to avoid doping. Many experts say that young people start with protein supplements and continue with substances such as  anabolic steroids.

Melissa Goslin

Melissa Goslin is a highly skilled and passionate health articles writer who possesses an exceptional ability to convey complex medical concepts in a clear and accessible manner. With a background in health sciences and a deep understanding of various healthcare topics,

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