Personal Trainer Skills
Exploring Teenage Fitness

How to use Personal Trainer skills to kick-start positive exercise habits

You don’t have to search for too long or delve too deeply to realise that our teens are leading increasingly inactive lifestyles. Most of the key physical and lifestyle changes take place during the teenage years. It follows its vitally important that nutrition and exercise habits are working in harmony at this key stage of development to deliver optimum growth and function. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that Personal Trainer skills can help to kick-start positive exercise habits. Something to think about if you are considering taking steps to tackle your teen’s sedentary habits.

According to the British Nutrition Foundation ‘young people should try and do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.’ Whilst the role of the Personal Trainer can’t easily support seven days a week coaching they can instil positive change, motivation and commitment to exercise for the long-term. Assuming it takes roughly 21 days to form a new habit old ‘lazy’ habits could be replaced with high activity ones from as little as 3 weeks of personal training support.

This feature explores the potential of the teenage fitness sector for Personal Trainers alongside some key considerations for your exercise programming.

Personal Trainer Skills – Developmental Characteristics in Young People

The school teenage years cover a period of life course where key developmental characteristics are witnessed:-

As children move into adolescence and their young adult years the reality is that for the majority of people physical activity levels decline strikingly. The increasing trend in childhood obesity during the last decade is largely connected with this decline in physical activity.

A reasonable target is to expect this age group to be involved in some form of consistent regular exercise that is at least of moderate intensity.

Examples include;

  • Guided strength training
  • Walking
  • Skipping
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Football
  • Jogging

Assessing intensity can be more complex with young people. The best solution is to use your personal trainer skills this to keep things simple. Asking children to assess intensity to exercise according to tolerance or their rate of perceived exertion is a straight forward measure and yet it provides instant and powerful feedback to their Personal Trainer. For example, a child could feedback whether an exercise is easy, moderate, somewhat hard, hard, very hard or impossible.

Guidance in Exercise Selection

This age group should be encouraged to participate in activities that exercise all major large muscle groups. It’s advisable to also include weight-bearing activities to optimise basic skill development, weight management, aerobic fitness and bone mineral density.

With this in mind it makes sense that muscular strength and endurance activities, such as supervised strength training are important components of fitness for the 14-16 age range.

Tips in developing a strength training programme for children

  • All strength-training activities should be supervised and monitored closely by appropriately trained exercise professionals with the right personal trainer skills
  • Remember the child is physiologically immature irrespective of how big, strong, mature or sensible the girl or boy appears.
  • The primary objective is to teach proper technique for all exercise movements.
  • Once proper technique has been mastered a gradual progression of resistance or weight can be introduced.
  • Proper breathing techniques should be taught and monitored.
  • Exercises should be closely observed to ensure they are performed using controlled tempo with no use of explosive or jerky movements.
  • No power lifting or body building due to the potential for high intensity strength training to cause damage to bone and the growth plates.
  • Muscle growth does not keep up with bone growth in developing children.
  • Use full range of movement and compound exercises (multi joint).
  • Ensure the child is able to understand and follow directions.

Guidance in Programme Design


      • Weight loads should be used that permit 8-12 repetitions per set. Heavy weights are to be strongly discouraged as they can be potentially dangerous and damage the developing skeletal and joint structures.
      • Avoid resistance exercises performed to severe muscular fatigue.
      • As a child improves their strength (known as the training effect) the best and safest way to improve further strength is to firstly increase the number of repetitions and then increase the resistance level (weight). This is known as the overload principle.


      • Perform 1- 2 sets of 8 exercises with 8-12 repetitions per set. Ensure all major muscle groups are included.
      • Rest for 60-120 seconds between exercises. Include rest days between training days.


      • Perform strength training sessions twice per week. Encourage this age group to get involved with other physical activities on the other days.

Kids Fitness Instructing Qualification

In order to offer kids fitness sessions you will need to complete the Level 2 Certificate in Instructing Exercise and Physical Activity for Children. This demonstrates you have the relevant personal trainer skills and qualifications to run kids fitness sessions and enables you to obtain insurance.

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