Best Exercise for Teens and Young Adults


To find the right exercise for you -- the one you enjoy and will stick with -- you need to find one that can adjust to your schedule.

Let’s face it: being a teen can really suck sometimes. Between school, parents, friends, work, and relationships, you probably don’t have a whole lot of free time. Living off fast food for days at a time is pretty common. And, it can be tough to find time for exercise with all the other stuff you have going on. But if you found this page, chances are you want to lose a little weight, gain some muscle, or just develop a healthier lifestyle. The exercise plans for teens you’ll find below will help you.

But it won’t come easy.

If you want results, you’ll have to work for it. But it’s totally worth it, trust me on that one. You’ll look better, feel better, have more confidence, and will lead a generally happier existence.

That’s no exaggeration.

First, you need some background knowledge:

1. What kind of exercise do you like or want to do? Sports, dance, workout, etc.

2. Do you want to join a group or do it alone?

3. How to cook healthy food?

Once you do that, here’s what I want you to do: Think about what your health goals are. Really think about what you want to accomplish and why.

Do you want to lose weight? Gain some muscle? Tone specific areas? Train for a specific sport or activity? 

The first part, “WEIGHT LOSS AND TONING,” is for teens who want to lose weight and body fat.

The second part, “INCREASING LEAN MUSCLE AND STRENGTH,” is more for those who want to pack on lean muscle and get stronger.

Exercise Plans for Teens: Weight Loss and Toning

The first thing you need to do if you’re a teen trying to lose weight or tone specific areas of your body is learn how to eat healthy. Here are 5 healthy eating tips that are critical for weight loss:

1. Only eat healthy carbs that are “whole grain" or “whole wheat". Stay away from any products with white flour – white bread, pasta, rice, etc.

2. Avoid sugar. Aim for 30 grams of added sugar a day or less. Since a can of coke has 39 grams of sugar, this means …

3. Get rid of the liquid calories. Phase out all soda, sugary juices, etc. The average teen consumes about 350 calories from drinks every day. Drink water instead and you’ll drop an extra pound every 10 days. That’s 35 pounds of weight in a year just by dropping soda and sugary juices! Stick with water, milk, and tea or coffee (minus the cream and sugar).

4. Eat less fast food and more vegetables and fruits … lots more. We’re talking 6-10 servings/day.

5. Be mindful of your portion sizes

This may sound obvious, but the key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you take in. Since you need to burn 3500 calories to lose one pound, “healthy" weight loss amounts to around 1-2 pounds per week.

Going on one of those fad diets or starving yourself to lose weight is terrible for your health and is a short-term solution. It won’t last. Most of the weight you’ll lose on these diets is from water weight, not fat, which means you’ll gain most of it back eventually. Ditch the diets, and make eating healthy a permanent solution. That’s the only way to keep the weight off.

Once you get the healthy eating part down, you should focus on getting more exercise to burn more calories and fat.

Think about the things you really enjoy doing. Whether it’s playing sports, riding a bike, swimming, dancing, yoga, or something else, starting an exercise plan is a lot easier if you choose something you actually like doing.

I recommend a combination of cardiovascular exercise (i.e., running) and strength training. Studies have shown that combining cardio and strength straining leads to more fat loss than just cardio alone.

If you’re a beginner, start with 3 days of moderate exercise per week and work your way up. If you have been actively involved in sports or other activities you’re probably ready for some more advanced techniques. Below I’ve outlined a few different exercise plans for Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced teens:

Beginner Exercise Plans for Teens

When you’re first starting out, you want to get your body used to exercise so you’ll be working your way up to the more difficult routines. Again, start by picking a handful of exercises that you enjoy doing. 

Intermediate Exercise Plans for Teens

At this point, you’re probably ready to pick up the intensity a bit. Aim for 4 days per week of moderate-to-intense exercise. You’ll start incorporating some light resistance training into your routine.

Advanced Exercise Plans for Teens

Now you’re ready to start burning some serious calories and losing weight. You’ll focus on equal parts cardio and resistance training and will have 4-5 days of intense exercise per week.

 The exercise plan for advanced teens includes more weight training exercises but you can also stick with bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, etc. if you don’t have access to weight equipment. Contrary to popular belief, strength training will not make you “big and bulky”. It will actually help you develop longer, leaner muscles, which results in a more athletic, fit appearance. The more muscle you have, the more fat your body burns too.

Exercise Plans for Teens: Increasing Lean Muscle and Strength

Strength training involves using free weights, machines, or your own body weight to increase muscle strength and endurance. It is the absolute best way to gain lean muscle and strength for both teens and adults. Proper form is key to avoiding injuries.

These are some of the exercises you can do at home or at the gym without any equipment:

Prisoner Squat
Stand straight up with your arms behind your head. With your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, lower your body down, using your thighs and keeping your lower back straight. Go as low as possible without allowing your back to round. Ideally, your thighs should be at least parallel to the floor. Push yourself back up to the starting position. Do 10-12 repetitions.

Wall Push-Up
Stand facing a wall with your feet about 2-3 feet back from it so your body is at an angle. Place your hands on the wall about shoulder-width apart. Bending only at the elbows, lower yourself forward toward the wall then push yourself away from it, squeezing your chest muscles as you get to the top. Aim for 12-15 repetitions.

Side Bridges 
Lying on your side, prop yourself on your elbow and forearm. Raise your hip up off the floor to achieve a straight line from armpit to ankle, with only your elbow and side of foot touching the ground. Switch sides. Hold for as long as possible on each side.

Stand in a split-stance (one leg forward, one leg back). Bend knees and lower body into a lunge position, keeping your back straight and the front knee and back knee at 90 degree angles. Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat. Aim for 10 repetitions for each leg.

Bench Dips
Sit on the side edge of a flat bench or the front edge of a chair. Place your hands on the edge of the chair and grip the edge. To start with, your feet should be flat on the floor about two feet in front of you with your knees bent (when you get more advanced and comfortable with the movement you should raise your feet up onto another chair or bench). Move yourself off the chair so you are now supporting your body weight on your hands. Bend your arms, lowering your body and going down only as far as you feel comfortable then push back up, squeezing the triceps. Aim for 15 repetitions.

Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched out. Raise your arms and legs off the ground a few inches, holding for as long as possible.

Donkey Kick
Get down on your hands and knees and kick your right leg back and up as high as you can. Pull your knee back in to your chest. Repeat for the other leg. Aim for 10-15 repetitions per leg.

Start in a standing position with feet close together. Squat down quickly then with your weight supported by your hands, thrust your feet backward so that you are in the traditional pushup position. Do a pushup and return to the up position. Immediately after the pushup, pull your feet up to your hands in one movement, and stand back up to the original position. Perform as many reps as possible to finish the circuit.

All healthy teens and young adults should be doing some form of exercise or movement daily. Try walking more or get a pedometer to see how many steps you take a day. It is actually easy to add in some form of movement into your routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try a new dance move or ride your bike. Be creative and become healthy!

Always make sure you get approval from your doctor if you have any medical problems before starting any exercise program.

To learm more about teens and young adults exercises go to