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To improve athletic performance, regular workouts are essential - but when it comes to planning a workout for a female teenage athlete, knowing where to start can be a challenge. The American College of Sports Medicine encourages all teenagers to get at least one hour of aerobic exercise five to seven days a week, plus two to three days of resistance training over the course of a week to boost athletic performance. Stretching after workouts can also improve athletic ability and prevent the occurrence of serious injuries. Female teenage athletes who exhibit the symptoms of the female athlete triad should be referred to a trained healthcare provider for immediate medical attention.
Get Your Heart Rate Up
Aerobic exercise is a must for female teenage athletes who are interested in a good workout program. To maintain health and improve athletic performance, choose exercises that are similar to those done in the sport of choice. Teenage female swimmers, for example, should include swimming as part of their workout routine, while cross-country athletes should incorporate jogging or running. Cross-training, a form of exercise in which individuals perform a variety of activities in an attempt to boost athletic performance or fitness, can also be a great way to alleviate boredom and promote adherence to a workout plan. Aim for at least 60 minutes of aerobic exercise five to seven days per week for optimal results in health and athletic ability.
Pump It Up
Female teenage athletes can also benefit from participation in a structured strength-training program, reports Kids' Health. In addition to building muscle mass and aiding in athletic performance, strength training can be an effective way to boost bone health - which is especially crucial for female athletes during the teenage years. Choose strength training exercises that target the muscles used in the sport of choice - for example, female teenage cross-country athletes should incorporate exercises that build muscles in the lower body by performing squats, lunges and deadlifts, while softball players may want to focus on exercises that increase strength in the upper body through the use of pushups, pull-ups, bicep curls and tricep extensions. Female teenage athletes should lift weights two or three times per week under the supervision of an adult for optimal results in this process.
Be More Flexible
Flexibility is often defined as the amount of range of motion that is present around a specific joint. In addition to improving athletic performance, the American Council on Exercise reports that flexibility is associated with a decreased risk of injury during participation in athletic activities. For best results when it comes to promoting improvements in flexibility, spend at least 15 minutes engaged in a stretching routine after each athletic competition or training session. Stretching after exercise - instead of prior to activity - has been found to be superior when it comes to maximizing performance and preventing potential injury. Be sure to focus on muscle groups that were targeted during the competition or training session to achieve optimal results in flexibility.
Avoid the Female Athlete Triad
While daily exercise and the participation in a sport is associated with a number of important benefits for female teenage athletes, consequences are also possible. In fact, teenage female athletes may be at risk for the development of the female athlete triad, a condition characterized by disordered eating, the loss of menstruation and the development of osteoporosis. This is especially true in cases where a teenage athlete is pushed to improve her performance to please family, friends or teammates. The female athlete triad can have a number of serious lifelong consequences, and requires immediate medical attention by a trained healthcare provider.
About the Author
Kathryn Vera holds a master's degree in exercise physiology, as well as licensure as a Registered Dietitian. Currently, she works as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation, where she provides care to patients living with chronic heart disease.