Dumbbell Exercises for Teenagers

Dumbbell Exercises for Teenagers

Strength training benefits teenagers who want to improve their sports performance, avoid injuries, lose body fat or simply build confidence. Adding weights while exercising sparks the metabolism to burn calories and makes the muscles work harder than usual, resulting in increased muscle mass. There are several dumbbell exercises ideal for a teen's growing body, according to Jodi Sussner, director of personal training and programming at Snap Fitness World Headquarters in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Considerations
Teens typically have their first experience with dumbbell exercises. Since it's a new activity, they need to start slowly and learn correct techniques. They should visit a doctor to make sure it's OK to lift weights. A certified fitness trainer who has experience working with teenagers can help a teen design a program that matches his body shape and fitness level. The trainer can advise a teen regarding how often to use dumbbells and the proper number of sets and repetitions. Teenagers who have reached puberty have the hormones necessary for muscle development. Those who haven't reached puberty won't see larger muscles, but they will get stronger.

Beginners
Teens should start with body weight exercises, such as pushups, pullups and abdominal crunches, before advancing to free weights. It's best to work different muscle groups on different days of the week. When teens begin to use dumbbells, they typically do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions. The amount of weight varies. One person might start with 1- to 2-pound weights while another is strong enough for 15 to 20 pounds. A trainer can make individual recommendations. If the teen feels pain when lifting weights, it's a sign that the weights are too heavy or he's done too many repetitions. Each weightlifting session should begin and end with light stretching.

Side Lunge With a Twist
Teens benefit from side lunges because they challenge the many planes of movement that are functional in their day-to-day activities, Sussner says. They enhance balance and core stability. The feet are hip distance apart and dumbbells are at the sides. The teen lunges with one leg keeping the opposite leg straight. She should rotate the dumbbells toward the floor and across the bent leg, then push off the bent leg and step the feet back together. An option for enhancing balance is to stand on one leg when stepping together.

Plank Row
Teenagers are often sedentary since they sit in a classroom for several hours and then go home to video games and homework in the evenings. Therefore, building and maintaining core strength with exercises such as the plank row is crucial, Sussner says. This exercise also incorporates strength in the mid-upper back, which is important for good posture. The teen holds the pushup or plank position and has dumbbells in each hand, working to keep the wrists straight. He pulls one dumbbell up to the side of the body and pushes the opposite hand into the floor. Hips are level, abs tight and eyes forward. An easier version is dropping the knees to the floor for extra support.

Squat Pickup
Deep squats are an effective way for teens to maintain strength, balance and range of motion in the lower body. Combining the bicep curl and shoulder press works to maintain balance and upper body strength, boosts athletic performance and helps teens perform daily activities with ease, says Sussner. Both dumbbells are on the floor. The teen squats to pick one up, working to keep the chest lifted, weight in the heels and hips level. Repeat on the opposite side or pick up and set down both dumbbells in one repetition. A bicep curl can be added after the teen has squatted and picked up a dumbbell. He lowers into the squat to set the dumbbell down. This curl is repeated on the opposite side. A shoulder press is added after the bicep curl. One arm is pressed straight overhead, keeping the wrist straight and the neck relaxed. The movement is repeated on the opposite side.