There is an age for building muscle
Is there a minimum age for the gym?
The young target group celebrates them as idols and sees them as role models: influencers who celebrate fitness and strength training as a lifestyle online. They pose on Instagram with tense biceps, report training successes on blogs and guide us through their fitness and nutrition routine on YouTube.
No wonder that followers and fans also want to put their bodies in the limelight. But if you look around on the internet, in the gym or at bodybuilding competitions, the self-proclaimed fitness junkies are getting younger and younger.
You see more and more young people lifting dumbbells and doing intense strength training.
From what age does strength training make sense and is healthy?
An eternal controversial topic, because on the one hand fitness stands for a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, strength training too early is said to damage joints, bones, tendons and ligaments and is considered useless due to a lack of hormones.
We would like to inform you about this topic: From what age does strength training make sense and how should it be carried out so that it does not cause injuries or physical damage?
The youthful growth phase
The body is growing up to the age of 21. The epiphyses, i.e. the ends of the bones, are not yet completely ossified when they are teenagers. The adjacent epiphyseal plates, which are responsible for the growth in length of the bones, can close early due to uncontrolled training. This endangers the longitudinal growth of the bones and inhibits the youthful growth phase.
Furthermore, the bones of adolescents are more elastic, which makes them more prone to injuries if they are subjected to strong bending or pressure loads. The cartilage tissue can also be injured by overtraining.
Does it almost sound like everything speaks against strength training in adolescence?
Absolutely not, because while the risks mentioned exist, the benefits outweigh the following:
- Prevention of posture damage later
- Strengthen the bones
- Avoidance of a misalignment of the spine
- Prevention of obesity
- Activation of muscle strands
- Higher performance
- Physical and mental wellbeing
- Strengthening the musculoskeletal system
- Stabilization of the cardiovascular system
- Coordinative development
- Promote motivation
However, in order for the positive aspects to occur, strength training in adolescence must be carried out correctly, age-appropriately and to the correct extent!
The support of a competent trainer should not only be guaranteed for younger athletes, but also for all ages.
With these 7 tips, strength training will be a complete success even at a young age:
1. It has to be a bit of fun
Fitness should be fun at all ages. So young people should never force themselves to exercise just because friends or role models do it. Those who develop a positive relationship with sport at an early age will stick with it as an adult. The right way to get there: varied training, avoiding boredom and not putting yourself under pressure.
2. Curb pubertal cockiness
Teenagers in particular want to test their own limits and weight training is known to be particularly suitable for this. But six packs and huge biceps have no place in youth development. Therefore, teenagers should always train with light weight and high repetitions. Heavy weights disproportionately increase the risk of injury at a young age.
Unilateral muscle building also has a negative effect on the musculoskeletal system and can even lead to chronic limitations of bones, ligaments and tendons.
Therefore, adolescents should train with less than 50 percent of their own body weight and include all major muscle groups in their training in order to avoid injuries and poor posture. Maximum strength training, high-intensity methods, power lifting or even bodybuilding are absolutely taboo.
3. A break is a must
Strength training in adolescence should not be done more than two to three times a week, with six to eight different exercises of 10 repetitions being sufficient.
Regeneration is particularly important for young people. We recommend a sufficient break between exercises and at least one day's break within the individual training sessions so that the muscles can regenerate.
4. It depends on the technology
The rule here is: quality before quantity. Every exercise must be done systematically and in a controlled manner in order to build a solid muscle structure and avoid injuries. It is best for the adolescent to practice the movements without weight and perform them in a technically correct manner before working with resistance.
Light weight and high repetitions make the joint-friendly and correct execution possible. The rule is: train slowly, continuously and over the entire range of motion. And don't forget the right breathing technique as well as warm-up and cool-down.
5. Use the natural instinct to play
Young muscles are sensitive and sport should never be done exclusively through strength training in adolescence.
Rather, exercises with your own body weight should be used between the ages of 11 and 15. At this age in particular, the play instinct and the natural urge to move can still be exploited a little. Sports activities should also be used in a playful way, for example through ball sports, obstacle courses, climbing or swimming.
However, if the kids really want to train in the gym, light circuit training using medicine balls, sandbags, rope or wall bars is suitable. The key here is to be creative. In connection with push-ups or pull-ups, an effective and, above all, fun strength circuit training can be carried out for the young target group. A combination of endurance, speed and motor skills is ideal.
6. Are they all hormone-controlled?
While muscles never really want to show themselves before puberty, they develop very quickly during puberty, at around 14 years of age - usually even faster than the bones. This is due to the increased release of hormones, such as testosterone.
A teenager in puberty is in an anabolic phase, so strength training is not absolutely necessary because the muscles are growing anyway.
But, hormones or not - controlled strength training during puberty improves posture and paves the way for stable muscles in adulthood. However, muscle building must be carried out gently and with the body's own weight. Strength training that is too intense can lead to hormone fluctuations.
7. Not suitable for children under 16 years of age
Is weight training a question of age? Definitely, because only when a child is fully grown should they start with classic muscle building training.
Therefore, the following applies: no dumbbell and equipment training under 16 years of age.
This is also one of the reasons why you cannot start training as a fitness trainer at OTL until you are 18. Fitness trainer training is only possible from the age of 16 with the consent of the parents in exceptional cases.
Younger children have no place in the gym either and should rather let off steam with like-minded people in clubs, on football pitches and in school sports. The natural urge to move is unfortunately lost at some point and should therefore be lived out intensively and without compulsion.
Away from the screen, more exercise
This motto should always be in the foreground for children and adolescents, because early obesity is a serious issue in our society.
Role models such as trainers and people exercising in the gym, but also social media stars and celebrities, must therefore always be aware of their social responsibility.
Logically, children have no business being on machines in the studio, as they do not take their proportions into account. Personal trainers can nevertheless acquire skills to train age-appropriate with the younger target group, to monitor them optimally and to look after them - the trend is going in this direction.
Nevertheless, the age limit in fitness studios should ideally be 16 years.
We should also be aware that no movement always has worse consequences than an early interest in weight training.
What do you think of that? What kind of experiences do you have with kids and teenagers in sports?
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