The Importance of Strength Training for Teenagers

Do you remember walking into the gym for the first time as a teenager? We do.

Not knowing how to use the equipment or how to perform exercises with the correct technique can be intimidating to anyone. That is why it is so important to get teenagers into strength training early. 

Strength training (also known as resistance training) includes 3 simple movements - lifting, pushing and pulling - which can be executed in many different ways to target different muscle groups in the body. 

When people hear strength training they automatically assume it involves lifting weights because it’s assumed the heavier you lift, the more strength you gain. This is not the case. It also incorporates a mixture of body weight, free weights and weighted machine exercises. The aim is to apply and overload different muscle groups in order for them to adapt, grow and become stronger. 

The core functional movements that are used in strength training include lifting, pushing and pulling, as identified by Chris Iliades from Everyday Health. This helps with the development of muscle strength and coordination for everyday activities, as well as the maintenance of lean muscle mass. Without basic weight training, your ability to safely and effectively live your life will be inhibited. 

Sports director of Academy of Mary Immaculate, Dave Molino, believes that teaching students the correct way to lift in school can be a game changer. Learning the correct techniques at a younger age can allow students to gain confidence in continuing to stay active outside of their school years. It can also help to protect you from injury due to increased muscle and joint strength. In this blog we will be covering what strength training is, its benefits for teenagers, and how they can incorporate it into their daily routine.


There are many benefits that come with incorporating strength training into a teenager’s weekly routine.

  1. Strengthens and tones muscles: Helps to improve appearance and self-confidence for teens to enjoy their lifestyle.

  2. Bone health and muscle mass protection: As teenagers are still developing it is the perfect time for them to start resistance training to “strengthen their skeleton” (Strengthlog). This will help preserve their muscle mass and bone density, lower their risk of injury, as well as the risk of developing disorders such as osteoporosis later in life. 

  3. Increases metabolism: Allows for more calories to be burnt during and after exercise. In turn this helps to combat the rising rates of obesity in young adults.

  4. Improves cardiovascular health: Helps to combat the increase of hypertension rates in youth due to adjusting their body composition and diet when partaking in strength training.

  5. Improves balance, agility and coordination: As a teenager’s nervous system are still developing, partaking in strength training continues to stimulate neural growth. As a result, this strength in the mind-muscle connection allows for better control of the body.


  1. Ego lifting (going too heavy): Some teenagers may want to impress their friends by lifting heavier weights, however this can cause injury if they’re not strong enough to perform the exercise. 

  2. Incorrect form: Not only will it cause injury, it also makes an exercise redundant if the form is not correct because it won’t be targeting the right muscles.

  3. Not fuelling the body correctly: Some teens may not be eating the correct amount of food each day (e.g., skipping meals) and when paired with weight training, this may mean that the muscles are not getting enough fuel to grow.

  4. Rest time (too much / too little): Teenagers living a sedentary lifestyle (e.g., really into computer games) will require more muscle stimulation each time they exercise, in comparison to those with an active lifestyle.


When it comes to setting up your gym, there are a few core pieces of equipment that you will need to purchase in order to maximise the effectiveness of your exercises. Having these in a school gym gives a range of equipment for students to try.

Power rack or squat rack

  • Super safe to use, especially for people who are new to handling gym equipment.

  • Eliminates the risk of failing a weight because the barbell can be caught by safety bars that are on either side of the racks.

pin loaded weight machines in school gym

Pin loaded machines

  • Good starting point for people new to strength training because they won’t need to handle free weights without the experience.

  • Allows for progressive overload because the weights are stacked and can be easily adjusted by moving the pin.

Dumbbells and Barbells

  • Provides versatility for exercises and a wider range of intensity for different fitness levels.

  • Dumbbells are perfect substitutes if barbells are too heavy to use to complete the exercise.

Hex dumbbell stack


  • Gives more flexibility to the range of weights used when performing upper body exercises.

  • Increases range of movement and angle differentiation for chest exercises.

Along with heavy machinery and assisting equipment, it is also beneficial to have functional products such as resistance bands to add extra tension and difficulty to exercises.

“Freddy, Marvin and Mitch were absolutely wonderful. They basically told us exactly what we needed…I basically told them what the space was, and they were able to recommend the machines…[and] what was also best for our girls, with their age demographic too…I definitely say World Fitness Australia are the best people to go through”

- Dave Molino (Sports Director of Academy of Mary Immaculate)


Now that you have the equipment, here are some strength training exercises you can incorporate into a plan for your students to get them used to the machines and enhance their routines.

1. Squats

Equipment used: Squat rack, barbell, and weight plates or dumbbells. 

barbell back squat

How to:

  • Start by setting up the barbell on the squat rack with either just the bar or with weight plates. 
  • Dumbbells can be used as an alternative if the barbell is too heavy.
  • Adjust the safety bars on either side of the rack at around knee height in order to catch the barbell if you did have a failed rep.
  • Begin by standing slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Tense your core and bend your knees into a squat position while keeping a flat back and knees apart.
  • Push through your heels to bring yourself back up to your starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise for 10 reps 3 sets at an appropriate weight.

2. Deadlifts

Equipment used: Squat rack, barbell, and weight plates or dumbbells.

How to:

  • Start by setting up the barbell on the squat rack with either just the bar or with weight plates.
  • Dumbbells can be used as an alternative to the barbell.
  • Adjust the safety catchers  on either side of the rack to around shin-height to hold the bar before you start.
  • Begin by grabbing the barbell and taking a few steps away from the rack.
  • Tense your core and hinge at the hips as you lower the barbell to the ground, keeping it close to your shins.
  • Push through your heels to straighten back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise for 3 sets of 10 reps at an appropriate weight.

3. Bench Press

Equipment used: Weight bench, squat rack, barbell, and weight plates OR weight bench and dumbbells.

How to:

  • Place a flat bench in-between the half rack and the barbell up on the safety catchers (either loaded or without any weights). Dumbbells can also be used if the barbell is too heavy.
  • Lay down on the bench and bring your arms up slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your eyes in line with the bar.
  • Bring your shoulder blades back into the bench, take a deep breath in, tense your core and push up with your arms.
  • Lower the barbell so your elbows are at a 45-90 degree angle before pushing back up.
  • Perform 3 sets of 10 reps at an appropriate weight.

4. Lat pull downs

Equipment used: Pin loaded machine (110kg Lat Pull down/Low Row machine). 

How to: 

pin loaded lat pull down
  • Select the weight by adjusting the pins on the machine. Change the seat height to suit you.
  • Grab both ends of the bar with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and sit down with your knees snug under the pads.
  • Pull the bar down while squeezing your back muscles until the bar reaches just below your chin. Make sure your feet stay completely flat on the ground during the entire movement.
  • Extend the elbows and return to the starting position.
  • Complete 3 sets of 8 reps at an appropriate weight.

5. Vertical Rows

Equipment used: Pin loaded machine (Platinum Vertical Row machine).

How to:

  • Select the weight by adjusting the pins on the machine. Change the seat height to suit you.
  • Grab both ends of the bar with a hammer grip and ensure your feet stay flat on the ground
  • Pull the bar in towards your chest while squeezing your back and lat muscles.
  • Extend the elbows to return to the starting position.
  • Complete 3 sets of 8 reps at an appropriate weight.

6. Bicep Curls

Equipment used: Dumbbells.

How to:

  • Select 2 dumbbells of an appropriate weight to hold in each hand.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core with your arms relaxed by your sides.
  • Start to lift the weights up towards your shoulders by bending at the elbow and keeping them tucked next to your ribs.
  • Extend your elbows to lower the weight and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 3 sets of 8 reps at an appropriate weight.

There are many other exercises to help enhance strength training, however these are 5 that can get you started. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or are after equipment recommendations to purchase for your gym!

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