"I want to lift weights to be stronger," says "Ella" (not her real name), 17. "But I don't want to look like a football player!"
"Hey, I do want to look like a football player," says "Josh," 14. "I'm going out for the team next year and need to bulk up."
There are good reasons, although they are different for Ella and Josh, why both teens should do strength training: it builds muscle strength, tones the body, builds endurance, develops stronger bones and even promotes weight loss. But they need...
First things first. Before the season even starts, you should already be in shape.
“A lot of youth don’t think they need to get in shape,” says James Chesnutt, MD, a sports medicine specialist at Oregon Health & Sciences University. “They are couch potatoes right up to the first day of practice.”
Don’t let that be you. Practice is going to put a lot of strain on your muscles. Games are even more intense. You have to be prepared. Think about baseball. If you’re a pitcher and your arm isn’t up to the task, your game might not be the only thing to suffer. A weak arm is an easily injured arm.
Chesnutt, who coaches teen sports in Portland, Ore., tells his players that they need to start working out six weeks prior to the season, putting in an hour’s worth of exercise a day (something everyone should be doing already). That means a mix of lifting, cardio training, and active play that revs your heart.