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Are there exercise guidelines for getting in shape for young athletes?

The same guidelines for children exist as they do for adults. To prepare athletic competition most youth athletes will need to improve their aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, core strength, and flexibility. Just like with adults it’s important to start slow and light and progress the child slowly over time allowing their bodies to adapt to exercise as they do not have the same hormone levels as adults do. Have them engaged in some form of aerobic exercise for 20-40 minutes 2-3 times a week, some form of resistance training 2-3 times a week focusing on major muscle groups, flexibility training after each session and core training 2-3 times a week. For younger children simply running around and playing combined with calisthenics is sufficient to prepare their bodies. For older children nearing puberty they can safely engage in weight training under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Children will not gain much if any muscle mass, but they will see increases in the strength of their bones, joints, soft tissues and muscles from regular resistance training. Resistance training should focus on major muscle groups 2-3 times a week with at least 24 hours in between sessions. Some form of core strength and flexibility can and should be performed each day, stretch all major muscles groups and hold for 30 seconds per area.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.