Regular exercise is a healthy habit to develop at any age, and strength training is an important part of physical fitness. Bodybuilders use strength training to increase muscle mass, but they also often compete in competitions. Bodybuilding can be detrimental to your teen's health if they practice it incorrectly or if they adopt common bodybuilding dietary and supplement practices.
Your child’s body is still developing if they’re under the age of 16. If they stress their skeletal frame by lifting too much weight or lifting weight incorrectly, it can cause injury. If they pair too much weight lifting with a restricted diet and nutritional supplements or steroids, it can result in serious health complications with long-lasting consequences.
Encourage your teen to exercise regularly, but also share the following facts and strategies. They can build their strength and fitness safely by following these simple tips.
Reduce the risk of injury
For a young person who’s just starting to lift weights, it doesn’t make sense to follow the fitness regimen of experienced bodybuilders. None of those people achieved their current strength or fitness routine overnight. Instead, they gradually built up their strength and endurance to achieve their fitness goals.
It takes years of consistent weight training to gain significant muscle mass. Completing two repetitions at a time, or spending 20 minutes targeting one muscle, won't do anything to improve the overall tone, mass, and strength of your teen’s body.
Instead, encourage your teen to complete two to three sets of eight to 12 reps of each activity at a challenging but reasonable weight. This will yield better results without increasing their risk of injury. If they injure themselves at a young age, they may be unable to endure a lifetime of exercise. If they build up their strength and endurance gradually, their body will become stronger and perform better for years to come.
Eat well, not restrictively
Reducing body fat while increasing muscle mass is the goal of most bodybuilders. Professional bodybuilders follow very specific diets that allow them to cut fat while bulking up. Some even dehydrate themselves before a competition to increase the visibility of their muscles.
For a developing teen, none of these practices are recommended. Restricting caloric intake, loading up on protein, or eliminating carbohydrates can slow your teen’s growth or development. It's better for them to eat a well-balanced diet, including a wide variety of:
- whole grains
- lean proteins
They can also limit processed foods and refined sugars for healthier snacks and meals.
A healthy diet can improve your teen’s concentration, athletic ability, and overall health and well-being. If they’re intent on following a specific meal plan, find out what it entails and keep an eye on their eating habits. If they become obsessed with what they’re eating or not eating, they may have developed an eating disorder. If that happens, encourage them to make an appointment with their doctor.
Stay away from supplements
Teens shouldn’t alter their hormones levels if they don’t have a medical reason. Encourage your teen to stay away from common fitness supplements, including steroids. Using steroids can raise their risk of heart disease, liver damage, and testicular atrophy.
Develop healthy habits
Your child may find it hard to wait out their teen years, when their body may seem too thin or too heavy to them. It can be especially tricky if your teen faces pressure, bullying, or harassment from peers. They may be tempted to cut corners to slim down or bulk up. For example, they might lift more weight than they can handle, adopt a restrictive diet, or use steroids.
It's essential to guide your teen towards healthy eating and exercise habits to help them achieve age-appropriate fitness goals. Talking them out of a rigorous bodybuilding regimen may not be easy. However, when they learn about the potential consequences of unsafe habits, they might be more willing to embrace healthier alternatives. Emphasize the benefits of a slow and steady approach for long-term gains. Optimal fitness can take decades to achieve.
If you're having problems communicating this message, consider hiring a personal trainer who specializes in youth fitness. They can help your teen get on the right track.