10 Reasons to Enrol your Teen in CrossFit

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that is functional by design. Clients are coached through various movements that help to increase their fitness in a variety of domains, such as cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed, power, agility and flexibility. Movements are comparable to those you’d perform in everyday life. For example, squatting; you sit on a chair everyday, go to the toilet and you need to sit to get into your car. And deadlifting; you bend over to pick up your bag and you move a box from one location to another. Running, jumping, throwing, moving the body in space, all of these are natural to human movement. CrossFit for teens is no different, we just move at a much less rapid pace that full blown adult classes, ensuring movement paths and technique are perfect before adding load or progressing in weight. But, in comparison to adults, teenagers embarking in a CrossFit program are going to receive a whole lot more benefits! Here are ten reasons to enrol your teen in CrossFit…

1. First and foremost, teenagers are going to get fit. And fast. Their adaptability is paramount. So is their tabula rasa (or clean slate). This makes them incredible to train in movement patterns, before they begin developing bad habits. Additionally, this is the perfect time to develop strength, speed and explosive power.

2. Decreases risk for cardiovascular disease and associated health issues. This is kind of a no-brainer. Any kind of exercise is great for health, body composition and helping avoid those retched cardiovascular diseases. Though CrossFit is running its own game because it couples so many different fitness domains together. It develops those growing muscles, the neural circuits determining skilled movements and enhances the function of the cardiovascular system.

3. Increases their cognitive performance. I put this third, because its of high importance. Especially when our teenagers are piled with homework and expected to exhibit high quality academic skills on a continual basis. Studies have shown a variety of awesome things about the affects of physical activity on cognition and attention.

For instance, a study compared ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’ 14 and 15 year olds in a cognitive task. It revealed that the ‘fit’ teens had considerably faster reactive times (especially after just completing exercise) in comparison to the ‘unfit’ teens. What was also revealed was that the ‘unfit’ teens had faster reaction times straight after exercise, than after a period of relaxation. This suggests that physical fitness, as well as exercise, could enhance cognition by improving attention. For teens, this is crucial! Have them exercise first, and then sit down to complete their homework at night.

This synergetic effect is also noted in an academic review that oversees a variety of studies linking physical activity to brain health. They conclude that aerobic physical activity need not be a trade off for curricular-based activities. Take home note: Exercise makes our teens smarter, increasing their academic achievement and psychosocial functioning.

4. Improves performance in chosen sports and prevents overuse injury. Sports are usually conducive to just a handful of movements and fitness domains. Soccer, for example, is heavy on repeatedly kicking and is highly cardiovascular. What’s lacking? Power, strength, flexibility, maybe speed depending on training modalities. Anyway, overuse of any particular facet, for example kicking, is what can cause injuries in our teens. Studies recommend sport alterations and training and conditioning programs to assist with developing a well-rounded athlete. This is exactly what a CrossFit teens program does. Play your sport, but supplement it with a strength and conditioning program.

5. It’s for everyone. You don’t need to be fit to do CrossFit. In fact, overweight teenagers excel because of their base strength. Strength training is part of the teens program, and this has been widely documented as great for healthy body composition and fat loss. I think overweight teens feel confident and comfortable in a CrossFit setting because their strengths are broadcast. Self-esteem may be low for overweight teens. Though because CrossFit advocates for so many different domains of fitness teenagers are bound to excel in at least one of them. Bolstering this confidence and boosting self esteem in all our athletes is a lot easier when you have more skills to play with.

6. Develops strength. For starters, myth-busting the idea that strength training is not good for adolescents. There are numerous studies refuting this notion now (use Google scholar to find them, there are too many to add here). Strength does not just mean hypertrophy training, or the addition of bulk muscle. Growing strength as a teen is related to a combination of muscular, neural and mechanical factors. It also depends on the level of understanding the coach has about effective strength training; what will be of most benefit to adolescents. They are different from adults. Understanding and acknowledging this, and working with their limits is crucial to receive positive results. Strength is necessary at all ages of life and it is crucial to the development of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS). See here for a cool article.

7. Learn correct movement patterns. We go through the basics of functional movement meticulously and ensure sessions are coached adequately. This conditions our teens to move their bodies in the way they were designed to. CrossFit enables full range of motion in joints, as well as their stabilisation by developing muscular strength. This helps to develop competency in movements and help establish a strong base to build strength or develop athletic skills.

8. Works the vestibular system. Balance and spatial awareness are not highly regarded when it comes to physical abilities. For dancers and those practicing tae kwon do, it is paramount. The vestibular system is located within the inner ear. It sends information about movement, change of direction, head position, and gravitation pull to the brain. It’s important, so we train it. Want to know more? Check out this article here.

9. Instils life skills for maturation. CrossFit is hard. Let’s be frank. But it isn’t unachievable. Hard work is inevitable in life, and it never stops. We need to work hard at our studies to graduate, work hard at our job to be promoted, work hard as caregiver to raise children, we must work hard at tasks to ensure they get done. Every class I encourage the teens to work harder than they want to. They always do. Then they succeed. Every time they finish a workout, it’s a celebrated success. Teens are treated as young adults and expected to be respectful, diligent and disciplined. What we are finding, and it’s consensus with CrossFit coaches around the world, is our teens are prepared to go the extra mile. They are determined and ready to tackle tasks and overcome adversity. It also makes them confident. A precious skill that is challenged every day as a teenager!

10. CrossFit teens is fun! Above and beyond anything else we’ve discussed, CrossFit teens is a ball of fun. Imagine if we made our teens fall in love with fitness. Every single one of them. What kind of world would that ensue? In a study at a US school, satisfaction scores of teen participants ranged from 4.2 to 4.6 out of 5 after a CrossFit session.

CrossFit training is fun, and competitive, and social, and tough, and advocates for camaraderie. It’s simple, really.

For more information on our Teen Program, see here.

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