Even though I did Tae-Kwon-Do (a Korean martial art) since middle school, I was never really into fitness and exercise the way I am now. Before I graduated high school, working out was a means to an end, a way to lose weight, or just something I had to do so I could eat.
Now I know that that’s not the right mindset at all. When I go to train now, I know that the progress I’m making is because I eat, recover, and take days off when I need to.
But after I got my black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, my parents still wanted me to be active when I wasn’t in theatre. So my Dad took me to the gym, showed me a couple lifts, and that was that.
Since then I’ve been lifting since 2011, not really hitting my groove sports-wise until I started Olympic weightlifting back in 2016. Now I have a sport that I constantly practice in, set goals for, and sometimes love to hate.
Like other extracurriculars, exercise is a great way for teens to practice patience, goal setting, planning, and helps them socialize with other teens participating in the same sport.
Regardless of your teen’s activity, I would encourage you to try weight training with your teen.
Weight training is different from Weight lifting– “weight training” means just lifting for general fitness and health. Weight lifting typically refers to the sport I do, Olympic lifting, but I’ll be using ‘training’ and ‘lifting’ to mean the same thing in this post, since that’s how it’s used in real life.
What are the benefits of weight training?
When we look at weight training, we’re not looking at Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting, or strong man- which are all lifting sports. We’re looking at lifting for general fitness.
Weight training helps improve balance, strength, endurance, and joint mobility. If your teen is on the computer or phone all the time and you’re concerned about their posture, training abs and back can help improve how they sit, stand, and walk by strengthening core and back muscles.
As you go about your day, take note of how many times you pick something up or move something. I know it doesn’t seem like it, because it’s not stereotypical lifting, but you are using your muscles! It’s better to have your teen learn how to properly lift things now, so they can avoid injuries (like throwing their back out) later in life.
Embarrassing story time: I did hurt my back once as a teen because I didn’t know how to lift properly. I was not at the gym…I was lifting my backpack. Yes, really. So get them started now!
Weight training has other long-term benefits like an increase bone density. The thicker your bones are, the less likely they will break or sprain, reducing a risk of fracture. People who have periods also benefit from weight lifting because this benefit reduces the risk of osteoporosis as they age.
If your teen participates in sports, weight training can also help with their performance on the field.
Does my teen need to be an athlete to weight train?
Nope! Lifting is for everyone. And if you have a teen whose mobility is impaired, there are personal trainers who would be happy to work with you and your teen to find a routine that works for them.
Something I really liked that I read while researching for this post came from stanfordchildren.org. In this article they give a lot of the benefits and things to consider when your teen starts lifting, but I do want to emphasize one point in particular:
Training shouldn’t get in the way of other ways your teen likes to be active, or a substitute for having fun. Really, weight training can supplement any active lifestyle.
Think of it like hot sauce- some people only need a little for the flavor they like, some people love having lots of hot sauce. Even things like bodyweight exercises go a long way in long-term health.
Okay…but why should my teen try lifting?
Maybe I’m a little biased but…because it’s fun! 😉
In all seriousness, not to sound all ‘technology is scary!’ but we do live in a predominantly sedentary society. We have this fear of exercise like it means going to the gym for hours, sweating, grueling away at a goal that we’ll never reach.
In reality, a balanced life is about figuring out how much of a hobby you want moving around to be. My brother, sister, and I are all active, but we do COMPLETELY different things!
Danny walks EVERYWHERE! He does some lifting, but it’s more weight training. But damn does that boy walk.
Becca does Tae-Kwon-Do. She’s an instructor, so she teaches, and she even competes!
I do Olympic lifting and have been prone to zone out on cardio machines every now and again (it’s when I let myself watch let’s plays, don’t judge!)
By exposing your kid to all different kinds of activities, there’s bound to be one that sticks. Something that gets them off the couch, gets their blood flowing, and helps them move better the older they get.
Sounds like a plan. Anything else we should keep in mind?
I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a small list:
- Whether it’s you, a family friend who’s lifted for years, or a trainer, make sure your teen gets instruction on how to lift properly.
- Injury rates in lifting are no different than other sports, but you should still work to reduce that risk
- Lifting could be a fun way for you and your teen to bond! Don’t be afraid to give it a shot, or to let your teen tag along to your lifting sessions. Some of my fondest high school memories are lifting with my dad.
Weight training is a great supplement to active living and can even become a fantastic hobby for your teen to make friends in after high school. It teaches your teen to invest in their health early on in life, to set meaningful goals to work towards, and impresses people at parties…what’s not to love?
Remember to do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone if you can today :). See you soon!