Bodybuilding at an early age can be very beneficial, as it can establish a strong base from on which they can build in the years to come. The idea that weight training stunts growth is a myth. Weight training will develop your muscles, but it has no affect on your height. Height is determined by your genetics. That said, I still don’t recommend teens use very heavy low rep training or try to max out with single reps.
If you want to get big, you need to train hard so let me break this down. Train 3 – 5 times per week and keep your sessions short. By short I mean under an hour. Train one muscle group per week or every 5 days… do not combine 2 large muscle groups on the same day. Your big muscle groups are chest, back and upper legs. Below are three examples for splits that are perfect for a teen:
3 Day Week
- Monday: Chest, Triceps
- Wednesday: Biceps, Back
- Friday: Shoulders, Legs
4 Day Week
- Monday: Chest, Triceps
- Tuesday: Biceps, Forearms
- Thursday: Sholders, Back
- Friday: Legs
5 Day Week
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday: Biceps, Forearms
- Wednesday: Legs
- Friday: Triceps, Shoulders
- Saturday: Back
As you can see no 2 “big” muscles are done on the same day. Now, for exercises, do compound movements such as bench press, shoulder press, rows, squats, and dead lifts first in your workout, and make sure you do the big muscles first as well. As for volume and intensity, these are inversely related, the more volume, the less intensity and vice versa. For reps and sets, shoot to fail between 6-10 reps and if you are training intensely do only 5-8 sets per body part (more sets for the bigger muscles, less for the smaller ones).
Teen bodybuilding, or any bodybuilding requires good nutrition and diet. This is where many teen bodybuilders run into some problems due to their tight schedule. Its easy enough for adult bodybuilders, or even university students to eat six times a day, but for teen bodybuilders, most are in school all day, and in most cases, eating is prohibited in class. How do you get the nutrition you need to grow?
There is a solution. Teen bodybuilders don’t need to starve. There are already three meals in a day, and breakfast is the most important. Eat lots of high protein and high carb products for breakfast. This could include eggs! Eat several egg whites and whole eggs each morning, plus weight gain supplements.
Successful bodybuilding requires several meals during the day, so you will have to mix in two meals in-between the main meals. This mean one at mid-morning, and another at mid-afternoon, and probably another sometime late evening after dinner. The next main meal won’t be till lunch, so you’ll have to eat something during class, which unfortunately, most teachers won’t allow. What you can do is bring a thermos filled with enough liquid meals to ensure you eat every two hours or so. Blend non-fat milk with protein powder, and drink this ‘liquid meal’ in between main meals.
Your lunch should supply you with as much nutrients as possible. Ideal foods to bring are white meat such as chicken breast, turkey or fish, and lean red meat. Bring lots of potatoes or rice as a rich source for carbohydrates, and bring a salad of some kind. By mid-afternoon, have the rest of your supplement mix, or if you drink it all in mid-morning, you can wait till you get home, and have a supplemental meal before dinner.
With this diet strategy, you effectively work around the tight schedules of high schools, and ensure you take in enough nutrition to help your body repair and grow. It takes a little time and planning, but its well worth it.
|8:00 AM||Oatmeal porridge w. no-fat milk||385||25||50||5|
|5 scrambled egg whites||60||15||0||0|
|8 oz. orange juice||110||2||24||0|
|Noon||Chicken, rice & wok vegetables (restaurant)||540||35||40||20|
|3:30 PM||Granola bar||140||5||20||3|
|12 oz. No-fat milk||120||12||18||0|
|7:00 PM||Low-fat tuna salad, about 1 cup||385||33||19||20|
|8 oz. apple juice||110||0||28||0|
|10:30 PM||Protein drink||189||40||5||1|
When you are asleep, growth hormone is released and this is when a lot of the muscle recovery takes place. If you are getting insufficient amounts of sleep, you’re depriving your body of its best chance to grow. To avoid this, make sure to get at least 8, preferably 9 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep can quickly lead to overtraining. I’ve experienced this myself several times. You bust your ass in the gym all week and run on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. This is terrible on the body. You can’t expect to demolish your body, then not give it the chance to re-heal! This can often make you sick and sluggish. Sure, your muscles grow during the day when you rest, but the majority of growth happens during REM sleep, which only occurs during deep sleep. Another important thing about sleep is when its over and you wake up! When you’ve been asleep for 8 hours, you haven’t eaten anything and you are in a severe state of catabolism (anti-growth). This means your body is really low on amino acids and carbohydrates. This is a huge no-no if you expect to get any results from your workouts. The best way to smash the starvation of your muscles is to have a big breakfast as soon as possible when you wake up.
10 Teen bodybuilding tips:
- Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have any other medical conditions.
- Be realistic with your training. Don’t start out to hard; make a program that you can keep on a regular basis. It’s better to start out at three 45-60 minute sessions a week than to start by training two hours a day.
- Vary your workouts. Don’t keep the same routine for months and months. For your mind and body, change your routines every four to six weeks. This will keep you interested, and is good for your muscles. (Changing your routine will cause your muscles to be confused from what they are familar with, and will promote new growth.)
- When you’re exercising, mentally concentrate on the body part you’re trying hit and make it do as much work as possible.
- Start training your cardiovascular system. Run, swim, bike, etc. at least three times a week and work up to at least 30 minutes or more per session to condition your heart and lungs.
- Work on your weaknesses. Too many people work only on their strengths and don’t make overall improvement. The best bodybuilders concentrate on weak areas to achieve overall balance and symmetry.
- Rest when you need to. If you feel tired, cut back each exercise by one set or drop back on weights or reps. You should feel fired up after a workout and ready to go for the next session. Listen to your body; if you don’t you can end up injured.
- Take some pictures of yourself. That way you will be able to see your progress.
- Take your measurements using tailor’s tape measuring your:
- Height and Weight
- Shoulder width
- Chest, inflated and deflated (put the tape around at the nipples)
- Arms Triceps/Biceps (measure perpendicularly around the widest part)
- Waist (put the tape just above the naval)
- Thigh, flexed, (right below the butt)
- Calves flexed
- Don’t focus entirely on bodybuilding. Try to work on all aspects of your life(mental, social, and spiritual) All these things are equally important, and you are only as strong as your weakest link.