Teen Fitness Concerns

The main concern in regards to designing a teen fitness program first and foremost must be considered to be safety. Great care must be given in all aspects of a fitness-training program as to provide the young athlete protection from injury. In addition to the injures that may effect an adult athlete, such as muscle sprains and strains, which can be lessened to an extent by always performing a sufficient warm-up and emphasizing proper technique. Teens should not attempt to lift maximal or near-maximal amounts of resistance. Due to the possibility of fractures as the bones of the young athlete may not have developed the thickness or mineralization (hardness) of an adult due to the age and hormonal changes necessary to effect these changes.

Another valid concern in regards to teen fitness (resistance) training must be the possible damage to the growth cartilage (Epiphyseal plates). Which can possibly stunt growth by limiting additional growth of the damaged long bone (I.E. Femur, Humerus) as the long bones of the prepubescent or pubescent athlete may not of ossified. Or the apophyseal insertion (The point of attachment for the tendon to bone) which can cause pain as well as osteochondritis dissecans and the possibility of the pain associated of Osgood-Schlatter disease. For these as well as the possibility of additional injuries teens should always have proper technique emphasized especially with over head lifts (I.E. overhead press, clean and jerk) and not attempt maximal or near-maximal resistance lifts.

A third concern in regards to teen fitness must be to help emphasize a realistic body image. With the emphases today on the "perfect body" portrayed by the media, advertising and professional sports many people especially teens have developed an unrealistic ideal of what is not only normal but of what is obtainable with fitness training.

As a personal trainer one of your goals must be to help the young athlete understand what can be expected from a fitness training program as well as what is and what is not realistic.

A fourth valid concern of teen fitness must be smoking, drinking and drug use. Both athletes and non-athletes alike should avoid all but they poise additional concerns for the athlete with not only to the risk of additional injuries but they will limit performance. It is well know that teens with a positive self image and participating in a well run fitness program have less of a problem with the above substances as they have a higher concern with there health and sports performance. That being said one problem that does pose a particular problem to teen athletes is the temptation to use anabolic steroids which should be avoided. Some of the various reasons will be discussed in detail under the additional documents submitted (I.E. " Dangers of Anabolic Steroid Use")

A fifth valid concern in regards to teen fitness would be the many eating disorders that effect young people (many young girls). Some of which are the following.

Anorexia Nervosa. Some of the symptoms are excessive weight loss or self-starvation.

Extreme concern with body weight or shape.

Intense fear of weight gain or being "fat".

Feeling "fat" or overweight despite dramatic weight loss.

Excessive exercise or fasting.

Bulimia Nervosa. Some of the symptoms include secretive bingeing and purging.

Eating beyond the point of fullness then purging.

Extreme concern with body weight or shape.

Abuse of laxatives, diet pills and or diuretics, excessive exercise or fasting.

Binge Eating Disorder or Compulsive Overeating.

Uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating beyond the point of comfortably full.

Although there is no purging, they may fast or repeatedly diet and may suffer from feelings of self-loathing or depression.

Other eating disorders may include any combination of the symptoms of Anorexia, Bulimia and or Binge Eating Disorder and can still be physically dangerous and emotionally draining. All eating disorders require professional help.

A sixth concern to the teen is sports training, as many young athletes will be concerned with improving their performance on one or more specific sports. (I.E. football, basketball etc.) Their concerns are best addressed by performing a needs analysis for the teen. Then the sport or sports that they are interested in and their present abilities then constructing a safe training program to address any special needs that they might have.

As always safety should be of paramount concern.



Designing Resistance Training Programs, second edition

Author; Steven J. Fleck & William J. Kraemer

National Eating Disorders Association.