The right exercises for teenagers

January 19, 2018 12:22 PM The Week Bureau


Everybody is conscious about their looks and body image and that’s even truer in case of teenagers who want to look their best at all times and go to extreme lengths to attain their idea of ‘perfection’. From trying different kinds of diets and detox programs to dance classes and working out at the gym, there’s a lot teenagers can be seen doing these days to make sure they are fit and don’t have an ounce of fat in their bodies. But while an occasional juice detox might be a good idea, fitness trainer at Metafit Fitness House, Biju Maharjan doesn’t recommend teenagers to join the gym till they have attained their maximum height which is not until they are in their 20’s.  

“The correct age to hit the gym is when you have almost reached your optimal height. Before that, there might be a high risk of muscle degeneration and that might actually prevent your body from growing further. You have to let your body attain its full height before you join the gym,” he says. Also, a teenager’s diet, with all the eating out and eating at erratic times, may not be able to provide the required nutrition for the body for it to be able to handle weight lifting and intense exercises.  

So rather than sweating it out in the gym, Maharjan says teenagers should involve themselves in physical activities like swimming, soccer, yoga, badminton, and other such outdoor activities. However, if you are a teenager who wants to join a gym, get yourself a good trainer first, and then stay away from the weights. Focus on cardio or bodyweight exercises only. Running on the treadmill and cycling are fine as long as you don’t overdo it. 

Again, Maharjan reiterates that there’s no need for teenagers to join the gym and that they can simply do some basic exercises at home that can give the same result as working out at a gym. He suggests you pick from the list of activities outlined below and prepare an hour-long workout session to look your absolute best without taxing your body too much. 

High knee lifts

This might sound simple yet it demands a lot of coordination. Firstly, simply keep your arms at the sides and slowly lift your knees making your thighs parallel to the ground. While maintaining a slow speed, alternately lift your legs and swing your arms. Gradually increase the speed and do the exercise  at a comfortable pace. Take care not to do this with a bad posture. You may even move forward but strictly focus on lifting your knees up and down in rapid succession. Two sets each with 15 repetitions will be enough for the teenagers.

Squats

This is an easy and very productive form of exercise. It not only stretches your muscles but also improves blood circulation as well. It is a powerful lower body exercise so teenagers must do it carefully. Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, back straight, and arms at the level of your chest. Slowly slide down pushing your hips back for about 5 to 20 degrees and come back to the starting position again. Decide the repetition based on your body weight and ability. 

Jumping jacks

This is a simple and effective exercise to reduce body weight. Simply jump to a position where your legs are spread wide apart and hands are touching overhead then return to a position where your feet touch and arms are at the sides. It is a whole body workout that focuses on your entire large muscles. Maharjan says that this may be regarded as moves for warm-up for adults but in case of teenagers it should be carried out as the main exercise. Repeating the set for 100 times in two minutes will also bring about a few chemical changes in the body. The body releases endorphins that act as pain and stress reliever as well. If you can’t jump too much when starting out, you can also alternate between jumping jacks and marching on spot. 

Mountain climber    

Mountain climber is the magic combination of strength training, cardio and stamina buildup exercise all rolled into one. To begin, set yourself in the plank position with your hands underneath your shoulder. Keep your feet hip-width apart with your arms and legs straight. After the position is aligned, move your right knee towards your chest by using the force of your abdominal muscles. Be careful about not letting your right foot touch the floor. In the end, bring your right leg back into plank position. Repeat on the other side and do this exercise at least 10 times.

Sit-ups, crunches, and pushups

Sit-ups and crunches are muscle strengthening and abs building activities. While sit-ups strengthen the abdominal muscles, chest, lower back, and leg, crunches, on the other hand, can be called a half sit-up as it only focuses on the abdominal muscles. For a teenager whose body is just in the initial phase of development doing these exercises will lead to a good body posture later on. 

To perform a sit-up correctly, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet either together or shoulder-width apart. Support your head at the back with your fingertips. Use your abdominal muscles to curl up your upper body until you reach the semi-seated position. Remember to exhale when you come up and inhale as you return to the floor. 

For crunches, lie in the same position as that for sit-ups. Unlike sit-ups, do not uplift your whole body instead only raise your head and shoulders until you feel the contraction in your abdominal muscles. Do not overdo it or hurry.

Pushups are considered the most common and one of the best home workouts to lose arm weight and increase endurance. However, it is better to learn the correct process before making it a part of your workout. For upper pushups, lie down on your stomach and maintain a shoulder-width distance between your palms. Extend your arms and push your body up with toes on the floor. Hold the position for next thirty seconds and return to the floor. Remember to raise your chest and not your buttocks in the air. After upper pushup position, if you are to lower your body keeping about six inches of distance between your chest and floor then this becomes a lower body pushup. Repeat both the sets four times each when starting out and then gradually increase the count.

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