Ever wish you could be as muscular as a superhero or your favorite professional athlete? Well, the big muscles you're thinking about aren't possible for kids. Superheroes, of course, aren't real, and professional athletes are grownups, whose bodies are different from kids' bodies in many ways.
Boys, especially, might wish for bigger muscles, but their bodies can't build that kind of adult muscle until they're older. On the bright side, both boys and girls can do a lot to build strong, healthy muscles. Let's find out how.
Playing Makes Muscles
It sounds too simple, but it's true. Playing, running, jumping, and riding your bike can make your muscles stronger. Any physical activity you like to do — from dancing to playing football — can make you stronger. Why? Because you're using your muscles when you do it.
What should you eat if you want strong muscles? You might think you need a lot of foods that contain protein (such as meat and eggs) or foods that contain iron.
But no one magical food helps build muscles. Your muscles — and your entire body — will be strong and healthy if you eat a variety of nutritious foods.
Should You Pump Iron?
Some kids want to lift weights so they can look bigger and stronger. But lifting weights won't produce big muscles in kids who haven't gone through puberty yet, and lifting heavy weights can be dangerous to kids' muscles and tendons.
With supervision from a coach or trainer, kids can do some light weightlifting or exercise with resistance bands (large rubber bands). This kind of exercise can improve muscle tone, meaning a kid's muscles will be leaner and stronger, but not really bigger.
Push-ups, sit-ups, and chin-ups also help build strong muscles. But so can plain old running, jumping, and climbing.
Get the message? More playtime means stronger muscles. Now that's something to get pumped up about!
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2010