training in your teens
Without a doubt there is a hell of a lot going on in your life as a teenager; the stress of the Leaving Cert, the confusion of picking a College Course, trying to get into night clubs, working a part time job, and doing 50 million driving lessons in the hope that some day you won't have to ask your parents for lifts everywhere! With everything that's expected of young adults, it's no wonder that Health & Fitness sometimes drops down the list of priorities.
There are many different reasons why people exercise, but for the majority of people it can be divided into 3 main groups;
To Lose Weight/Body Fat
To Gain Weight/Muscle
To Improve our Mental Health
Have a read below to see the science of why it is so important to enhance the benefits of exercise at a young age and why you should prevent putting it off.
1. Losing weight & dropping body fat
It's important to understand that weight gain happens everyone at different times of their life, and teenagers are no different. You may experience weight gain if you have recently decided to stop playing sport, if you are stressed due to exams, or going to college has resulted in you eating a higher amount of processed foods and your nutrition has been compromised as a result.
Again, this can happen people at different times of their life, some people may experience it at 13/14 years old, and others at 18/19. But the balance can easily be altered back in our favour by simply exercising 2-3 times per week. According to a HSE 2019 survey only 20% of teenagers get their recommended weekly exercise of 150 mins per week, and this is turn is linked to why Ireland has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe.
If you are looking to lose weight, rebalancing your calories is the key. By exercising you will burn more calories which will lead you to losing any excess weight you may have. See article on Calorie Deficit for more info - what is a calorie deficit?? (scullyfitness.ie). If you are looking to drop body fat or "Tone-Up" then resistance training or weight training will be key. By building muscle you will alter your body composition as your body will use the food you eat differently. Instead of storing the food you eat as fat in your stomach, it will burn some of it for exercise and convert the rest into glycogen and amino acids for muscle repair after weight training.
The good news is exercising in your teens is the best time to lose weight as your body is actually a machine! You can build muscle easily, get fit really quickly, and also have way more flexibility than when you are older. All in all, If you start exercising in your teens the sky is the limit in terms of what results you can achieve - So Go For It!!!!
2. To gain Muscle
Ok so this a completely different target and people going for this will have very clear goals as to what they want to achieve. There are a lot of myths out there so here is the truth!!
Will weight training stunt your growth? No, but the recommended age to start weight training is 16+
Can I gain 10kg of muscle in a summer? No, sustainable long term weight gain or weight loss should be 1 pound per week (0.5kg per week)
Will I get slower if I bulk up? Yes, technically. If you are gaining weight to play senior football or rugby your speed will be compromised as your legs will now have to carry more weight which takes more energy and reduces your initial burst of speed. It's advisable to work on speed and agility aged 17-20 and after that your body will naturally start to "Bulk" or gain weight.
Can doing weights make me faster? Yes. Doing lower body exercises ie. Squats, Lunges, Leg Press, Jump Squats will increase the number of fast twitch fibers in the muscles and improve acceleration.
Can I gain muscle and get a 6 pack at the same time? Generally you need to pick one or the other as they are 2 different types of training. To Gain muscle you need to increase the calories you eat, progressively lift heavier weights and use a rep range of 8-12 reps for optimum muscle growth. To get a 6 pack you need to slightly reduce the calories you eat, maintain your strength instead of increasing it, and work off rep ranges of 12-20 reps or maybe 30-40 secs in circuits.
To gain weight or build muscle in your teens follow these 5 Simple Rules and you won't be too far off the mark:
Rule 1 - Follow a 10-12 Week Training Plan
Rule 2 - Never miss a week
Rule 3 - Get a Training Partner
Rule 4 - Eat 3-4 good meals a day
Rule 5 - Deadlift, Bench, Squat
3. To improve our mental health
The most important reason for training is probably the least talked about (or least advertised). Depression, Anxiety and Suicide are unfortunately part of society nowadays and something that we all may have to deal with at some point in our life. Regular exercise will help you sleep, relax and feel better. Exercise helps reduce stress and boosts your energy levels. It can also be a good way to meet people and get more involved in your community. All of these factors help us look and feel better about ourselves and give us more confidence.
Physical activity can cause chemical changes in the brain. These changes help to improve your mood. Exercise is especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. So if you do feel like you're a little bit down or stuck in a rut, give it a try and I'm sure you'll feel much better afterwards. I've never in all my time running a Gym ever heard anyone say they didn't feel better after exercising. It really is a magic solution to many of life's problems and it seems so simple and straight forward, the only problem is we have to get up off our ass and GO DO IT!!
So whether you need a pick me up, want to lose weight, get fit or just learn how to do weights there is no better time to start than when you are young. The only question you will ever ask yourself is "Why didn't I do this sooner??"
If you would like any help getting started, or putting together a Training Plan feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to help!