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Ask a Young Woman: Am I Too Young To Lift Weights?

Hey Casey,

I'm 16 years old and recently I've started to make a bigger life shift than trying to make healthier decisions. I've begun to pay attention to what I eat, and I definitely feel much better than me: less sluggish, more energetic, better skin, etc.

As far as movement is concerned, for about three I've been Body weight training in the comfort of my bedroom, but this year I decided to start lifting. My neighborhood offers a free membership in our gym as well as a personal trainer. It's been a month now and I absolutely love it. I have never felt so safe in my body. Anyway, I was just wondering if it's safe to start so early.

How young is still too young to start? I have seen many articles online saying that it is perfectly fine as long as you practice the right form, but there are others who strictly oppose it. Personally, I am fine. Any advice?

Thank you,

The thing that immediately springs to mind here is that there are innumerable types (and women!) In your age who have done strength training For at least a few years, hoping to be shot for a professional sports career, or at least to get a college sports scholarship or just to stay in their high school sports teams. Many people did not notice this many decades ago, especially among young men. In this regard alone, it seems unfair to stop you, a young, yet developing, but relatively physically mature woman, from getting up. Therefore, there are no real restrictions on who can lift weights. Old people do it; Teenagers do it; Ruth Bader Ginsburg does it ; Michelle Obama does it; People of all abilities, weights, apparitions and all walks of life do so. Lifting is for everyone, and the demographics of a weight room you could go to may never tell you that this is not for you. You just have to make sure you get it right!

In the interest of scientific care, I have turned to a few experts to learn more about this point. The cliffs notes here are that your age should not be a limiting factor – there is no "age limit" when someone can start weight training. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure that you are approaching this amazing path of hobby safely and thoughtfully. Basically:

  • Only lift under qualified supervision – this means that you will be trained by a fitness trainer who sounds like you have been covered.
  • Be sensible and incremental, and you're never ready before.
  • Choose your exercise equipment carefully.
  • Take an appropriate break between sessions.
  • Limit the number of heavy lifts you try per workout.

The experts I talked to have slowed down a bit on some of these issues. Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., Chair of the Biobehavioral Sciences Department at Teachers College, Columbia University, said: "[A 16-year-old young woman] is probably old enough to lift heavy weights as long as she's for you but familiar with a lower weight and is well monitored. "She noted that the final stage of physical maturation in children is around the age of 15 years. Then they could be sure that they would try to get the maximum out of training. So, if you want to go to heavy competition, this door is now open to you (again with proper oversight and slow, steady and intentional progress).

And Todd Miller, Ph.D. CSCS * D, an adjunct professor at the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science at George Washington University, focused on the importance of emotional maturity as well as the physical. "Whether you're ready to start weightlifting depends on maturity, not chronological age," he said in an e-mail. "A ten-year-old may be mature enough to exercise while another ten-year-old may not, even if the second person is taller, stronger, and more physically prepared for exercise. In this case, the more mature person can be safely trained while the second child should not. "

Miller also drew me to a position statement published in the 2009 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which stated that professionals in the past had been against resistance training (lifting of weights) for adolescents, but this recommendation was based on their reputation for a "high risk of injury" resulting from poor technology, inadequate loading, poorly designed equipment and lack of qualified adult supervision. Now it says in the newspaper: "Recent results from prospective resistance training studies point to a low risk of injury in children and adolescents who follow age-appropriate training guidelines. A retrospective assessment of injury rates among adolescents showed that resistance training and weightlifting were significantly safer than many other sports and activities. "That said, while lifting weights carries a certain amount of risk, and all, and if done properly and under proper supervision and guidance, it carries even less risk than many other things young people are already doing without in control. For example, in many sports there are competitive children, as stated in the above publication; Why should weightlifting be different than gymnastics, I'm not really sure. I tend to mock it with weird prejudices. Miller wrote to me, "The International Weightlifting Federation defines its age group for teens as 13-17 years. Of course, a child competing for weight lifting must begin training before the age of 13. For a 16-year-old girl – she [can] definitely lifts weights. "

If there are any reservations here, then most of the sources I spoke with warned against the specific competitive nature of lifting. Do not worry only about the joy of the activity, but also about the relationship with yourself, the can result from learning to enjoy training. The physiological concerns are all that I have already discussed above regarding proper development and monitoring etc.

Now that this is not possible, I would like to point out that there are many people, including young women, who are trying to lift and really enjoy . I'm not saying this so that no one can feel like he's never lifted well because he did not start at this very young age, but to point out that lifting can do people with many different backgrounds and experiences. Also that these kids are adorable and i wish i was them and admire the crap of them.

Please enjoy some of my favorite stories, some of which are better than I'll ever do:

Luma is 6 years old and squats!

Elle is here mostly Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics, but she is 13 and can double her body weight twice!

Addy is 10 and presses bench press! That is, I want you to train for the right reasons and it sounds like you: you like how you feel, you notice a big difference in your confidence. It was not so long ago when I was a kid – which I swear to God, but things are changing fast – Nutrition Guidelines did not address significantly with the weight and health of children, nor did they stress how important physical activity is as in later years . Nevertheless, there was still enough screaming loud body image marketing to internalize us without anyone expressly having anything to do with us. No one ever mentioned the least bit about putting me on a diet, but it did not stop me from believing that I was fat (and I think that was a bad thing) at the age of 14.

Things are different now and sending messages to children is more pro-active than responsive: everyone encourages everyone to eat vegetables and balanced diets and government recommendations for children, all children, regardless of weight or health, are one hour Moderate Activity Per Day (I think in the past everyone just assumed that children moved out and played when they got bored, but now we have the internet and the iPhones and it's very easy never to move. It really sounds as if the generation that is now growing up has a better chance than ever to have constructive relationships with their own health and sports and body image, to appreciate what they can do, and not to what they look like and that they recognize the benefits of taking care of themselves every day, benefits that have little or nothing to do with appearances.

The i I can say that, in many ways, the pressure can be higher than ever before, when young girls look a certain way and project a certain image; There are an infinite number of Fitspo echo chambers in which you think that a nice set of #morningabs is everything you need to be happy and successful in the world, and it can really, very hard for everyone in every one of them To be older, take a step back and realize that is not true (and besides, for anyone around the world, it's easier than ever to spend 90 seconds manipulating an image in a photo editing app to use for one increase the "ideal" body again).

I would like to end this column by recommending some examples that I love and appreciate, that train. In particular lift heavy weights and are proud of themselves for what they can and what not they look like.

Maddy Forberg is very strong, setting records and only 21 years old, I love her:

Amanda Kohatsu always crushes it in the gym and is brutally honest with respect to what it takes as she is strong, namely Food and Love Yourself:

Cynthia Leu is a former Marine who can often crush her lifts in the Facebook campus gym. She is always open about her story, in which she struggles with food and body.

Bonica Brown is incredibly strong and competes with all sorts of events recently for a Strongwoman 425 lb tire spurt:

Daniella Melo is only 20 years old and already follows IPF World Champion (the most competitive global lifting event in the world) that does not mean that you have to be as good as you have to. They have invested a lot of time and effort in years and years to reach this level of performance. I admire her because lifting weights is not a Fairweather trend for her, as with some influencers; it is meaningful and gives them insight into themselves and how they live, and most importantly, what they are capable of when they manage to overcome what other people expect.

Casey Johnston is the publisher of the Future section at The Outline and a competitive powerlifter with a degree in applied physics. She writes the column Ask a Swole Woman for SELF. You can find them on Twitter: @caseyjohnston .

Letters to the AASW are edited by length and context, and the content of each AASW column is the author's opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of AASW SELF or SELF editors.

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