Clinic: My daughter is 15 and lifts weights regularly to stay in
shape. Lately, sheís complained about stretch marks on her
legs as a result of weight lifting. She doesnít like how they
look, but Iím more concerned that she is doing too much. Is
weight training healthy for girls who are still growing? How
much is too much?
strengthening activities, such as lifting weights, can be
beneficial for teens. But, weight lifting is not the only way to
increase strength. Encourage your daughter to consider varying
her workouts to include other kinds of strength training. That
may reduce the risk of unwanted side effects, such as stretch
marks, that can come from doing just one activity. Also, muscle
strengthening shouldnít be the only activity a teen uses to
stay in shape. It needs to be part of an overall fitness program
that includes aerobic activity as well.
general, a safe and effective workout routine for teens involves
strength training three times a week on nonconsecutive days.
Your daughter can change up her activities throughout the week
and still continue to build strength.
example, with some activities, she can use her own body weight
for resistance ó a technique called body weight training.
Examples include exercises such as rope or tree climbing,
swinging on bars or other playground equipment, games such as
tug-of-war, pushups, squats, lunges, abdominal crunches, pullups
option is to work muscles using resistance tubing. A
lightweight, portable, inexpensive strength-training tool, the
tubing provides resistance when stretched. Resistance tubing can
be used to strengthen almost any muscle group.
daughter lifts weights, they can be free weights or part of
weight machines. Itís important that a trained professional
supervise weightlifting to ensure teens use proper technique and
lift the appropriate amount of weight.
strength training is safe for teens. The rate of injuries is
low, with the most common injuries related to inadequate
supervision or instruction, using improper technique, or trying
to lift too much weight. In the past, there was some concern
that muscle strengthening may have a negative impact on a teenís
growth, but recent studies have found that growth is not
affected by strength training.
the risk of injury, itís best to do a 10- to 15-minute warmup
of light aerobic exercise before strength training. Stretching
is not necessarily needed before strengthening; however,
stretching can be performed afterward with at least 30 seconds
of stretch per muscle group.
addition to increased strength, teens can gain a variety of
benefits from regular strength training, such as better physical
endurance, enhanced self-esteem and higher self-confidence.
Teens who engage in regular strength training often see
improvement in their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood
sugar and body weight. Research has found they tend to perform
better in school, and they have lower levels of depression and
anxiety than other teens. Muscle strengthening also contributes
to building bone strength. Thatís important for teens, because
95 percent of a personís bone mass is accumulated by the end
of the teenage years.
overall fitness, aerobic activity should be part of your
daughterís routine. High-impact aerobic activity also provides
the added benefit of building bone strength in teens. A good
goal for teens is at least one hour of moderate to vigorous
physical activity every day, with at least three days a week of
aerobic activity at a vigorous level.
aerobic exercise includes brisk walking; games that require
catching and throwing, such as baseball and softball; and active
recreation, such as canoeing, hiking, skateboarding or inline
skating. Examples of vigorous aerobic exercise are jumping rope;
running; cross-country skiing; games that involve running and
chasing, such as flag football or tag; and sports such as
soccer, hockey, basketball, swimming and tennis.