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Thread: Strength training for 14yo female athlete page

  1. #1
    LauraSB's Avatar
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    Strength training for 14yo female athlete

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    My 14yo DD is very into synchronized skating (think Rockettes on ice) and is reaching the competitive level where lifts are required. Typically 3 girls will lift a 4th over their heads while skating. Her team has a conditioning program with some weight lifting, but after reading here at MDA for a while, I think the conventional strength training she gets is really inadequate and will be even more inadequate as the required tricks get harder.

    She has been begging to go to a gym, even though she has no idea where to start. For sure, I am the last person to be advising her. I think she would be very receptive to a Stronglifts type approach - fast and efficient. How do I find a gym and trainer who will take a teenage girl's strength training seriously? Are there questions I should ask to differentiate the body builders from those that understand functional strength?
    50yo, 5'3"
    SW-195
    CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
    GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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    Diogenes's Avatar
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    Some squats and calf raises are probably in order, but I would recommend that she also work on her core strength. Planks, Side Planks, Supermans, Leg Lifts. Not very fun, or stylish, but effective. Gym is optional. Gyms don't make you strong, work does.

    You might try googling 'skating conditioning' or similar, maybe you can find a program to use as a guide.

  3. #3
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    Don't forget the pullups.

    I'd advice rock climbing actually... if you have a good wall in your area, then it shouldn't be more expensive than a gym card. There will always be instructors around, too, and it can be a very good all-around workout, especially the more tricky walls.

    Otherwise, I would suggest a light kettlebell.

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    jfreaksho's Avatar
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    Your daughter is a beginning weight lifter who needs overall strength building.

    Call up a few trainers and ask what they would recommend for this. Hopefully you get a response back of something like, "A structured beginners program focused on big compound lifts and progressing every workout, with a strict emphasis on proper form at all times. The big compound lifts will be the Squat, Deadlift, ... and other suitable exercises."

    She probably gets more than enough cardio and endurance in her training. Any trainer who tries to give you anything but strength coaching is going outside his lane. Also, you're not really looking for a "physical trainer", you are trying to find a strength coach. Maybe the difference only exists in my head, but a trainer is going to be accustomed to helping people lose weight and "get fit". You want someone to help her get stronger.

    There's really not enough of a difference in a 14-year-old girl building strength and an adult male. In fact, it will probably be easier for her, as she hopefully doesn't have as many imbalances, old injuries, etc, that will hold her back from learning and using good form.

    Some other options:
    Talk to her PE teacher.
    Talk to the high school wrestling or football coaches (if there's differences in what a girl should do, they should know too)
    Go to the scariest gym you can find, the one with NO treadmills or, god forbid, ellipticals, and ask for a strength coach there.

    Depending on your school district, her grade, her age, etc, she might be able to use the school facilities during open periods, or evenings. In the city I used to live in, my friend (who was pretty knowledgeable) would teach weightlifting classes at one of the local high schools, free for city residents.

    So I was thinking while I was typing, and the above is a little less coherent than I'd like, but here it is:
    TL;DR: She doesn't need a personal trainer, she needs a strength coach. Be clear about what you want, and insist on someone good at strength coaching.

  5. #5
    Iron Fireling's Avatar
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    You have to be careful with teens and strength training, as too heavy lifts can impact on their growth plates (at least I think that's what occurs) causing them to stop growing too early (or just hampering their overall growth). This doesn't mean that your daughter can't lift weights, you just have to be careful about monitoring it. I think any good gym would help with this (our local gym has a special teen gym program).

  6. #6
    Annlee's Avatar
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    Another possibility would be Convict Conditioning - Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength: Paul Wade: 9780938045762: Amazon.com: Books. The progressions will make her fantastically strong, with a solid core (crucial for those lifts, to protect her back). The only equipment required is a pullup bar.

    And you could do them with her (for support, of course ).

  7. #7
    Miscellangela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Fireling View Post
    You have to be careful with teens and strength training, as too heavy lifts can impact on their growth plates (at least I think that's what occurs) causing them to stop growing too early (or just hampering their overall growth). This doesn't mean that your daughter can't lift weights, you just have to be careful about monitoring it. I think any good gym would help with this (our local gym has a special teen gym program).
    The "stunting growth" thing has been disproven. Simma Park has very young kids (6 yo, I believe) training with weighted PVC.

  8. #8
    TorMag's Avatar
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    My daughter is in the same boat, but her sport is soccer. I have her swinging kettlebells, but the high school has already told the girls that they want them doing P90x to get ready for the spring season. I would talk to one of the high school coaches, I know around here there are several "gyms" that specialize in fitness training for athletes.

    Here in Georgia, we have something called GATA, I have included the link so you can see, maybe there is something similar where you live.

    Georgia Athletic Trainers' Association - Home
    I Kettlebell therefore I am.

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  9. #9
    LauraSB's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone for your comments!

    I know she could probably do what she needs to do with body weight exercises at home. Her team's weekly session with the conditioning coach is primarily body weight stuff. I'm not sure if once a week just isn't enough, or if 16 girls and one coach doesn't allow enough attention to technique, or it's just not as glamorous as going to the gym, but she needs something different mentally, if not physically.

    I know she would enjoy rock climbing. They have a moving wall in the workout room at her school and she complains that the boys always hog it during gym class. There is a facility about 20 miles from us. A weekly visit would cost more than a gym membership, but she and a couple of her more focused team mates would have a great time there now and then.

    I think she would also like kettle bells, but not at home, alone, or even with mom, lol. I'll have to look around for a class.

    There is one gym in our area that's not a Snap Fitness kind of place. Her gym teacher is also the girls field hockey coach, so she may have some suggestions. Jfreaksho, your comments really helped me to think about a script when talking with potential strength coaches.
    50yo, 5'3"
    SW-195
    CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
    GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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