There are some very unique conditions that teens face when trying to get stronger and more massive and this teen bodybuilding page highlights what you need to know. A teen using advice targeted at 50 year olds would be just as big a mistake as a 50 year old taking advice targeted for teens. Lets start from the top.
Teen nutrition is the same as adult nutrition … except you have to eat more than adults. Not only is your basic metabolic rate higher, but you are more active than a typical adult, and most importantly, your body is still growing! It takes calories to grow taller and bigger. Unless you have a big belly and man-boobs I would suggest selecting “Clean Bulk” in my calorie calculator when selecting the goal in step 6. Some teen-targeted workout plans would have you bulking with 6000 calories a day but in my opinion, this is very unhealthy and all it will do is make you a skinny-fat, not make you big and muscular. Where your nutrition is the same as for everyone is that healthy is healthy. In this order, eat lots of vegetables, legumes and whole grains, fruits, and lean meats. Do the best you can to avoid fried foods, greasy and crispy snack foods, cookies, cakes, sugars and other simple carbs.
Puberty starts up the hormone pumps that starts your growth spurt making you taller and allowing your muscles to grow. Before stage 4 puberty, you really can’t add muscle mass, but after stage 4, look out! You are going to be outgrowing your clothes quickly! This page helps you identify when is the right time to start lifting hardcore and discusses some issues to consider when choosing what type of workout plan to use and when to go hardcore.
This teen workout is a rather conservative workout plan and its appropriate for any teen age 13 and up. Once you get to stage 4 puberty at about age 15 (please read above link on puberty) the chains are off … almost. By the time you have facial hair and armpit hair your hormonal system is optimal for muscular development but often the rest of you is not. Rapid body growth can throw coordination making for the “clumsy teen” syndrome making lifts like squats and deadlifts difficult to master safely. The bigger issue is judgement. Teens often have a “can-do”, no-holds barred attitude which is fantastic and admirable but can lead to injury when not tempered with some prudence. You can start my beginning workout, intermediate workout my advanced workout, or you can go the strength training route and do something like Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength (SS). Please though, especially if you are going to do a workout like SS that involves squatting and deadlifting, have a strength training coach at school help you learn to do it correctly! Better yet, enroll in a strength training class at a junior college where you have access to a coach during all your workouts.
One of the most common questions teens often have is if teens can get huge, and how long does it take? The biggest blessing and curse of being a teen is being naive. You have not yet learned that people lie and exaggerate to you all the time and you always have to filter what you hear. You have to always be asking yourself, “what motivates this person to say this”. The worst offender is products that prey off from teens desires to get huge fast. The internet is full of fantastic made-up anecdotes from teens who have turned to muscle monsters virtually overnight. Programs promise 30 pounds of muscle in 12 weeks just to get your money, don’t fall for it! This causes real confidence problems in teens because they have these really distorted notions of what “normal” is. Jeff Seid is not normal. Zyzz was not normal. Taylor Lautner is not normal. You are not a hardgainer, you are just being lied to about what is possible by those who want your money, your admiration, or want to control you.
Questions about man-boobs are one of the most embarrassing and common concerns of teens. If you have man-boobs, realize that you are not alone. First, I know this wont be very comforting to you but man-boobs are *very* common in teens and 95% of the time they go away by themselves after a few years. Its just part of puberty where your body is pumping out massive amounts of hormones to transition your body from that of a kid to a mature man. What can you do? Well, if you are overweight then lowering your bodyfat thru eating less and doing more cardio will often solve your problem. Teenage pseudo-gyno is accentuated by high bodyfat making big droopy pecs, aka man-boobs. Remove the bodyfat from the chest and the problem is much less noticeable. Problem is, you cant do spot fat removal on the chest, all you can do is lower your overall bodyfat levels by eating less and doing more cardio until the fat comes off the chest too. The other aspect that will help teenage pseudo-gyno is resistance training. Having some muscle mass on your pecs will make the fat less noticeable so lifting weights is good advice as well.
I disagree with Mark Rippetoe on many things but one thing we agree on is that for teens, getting sixpack abs may not be the best goal. Your teenage years are when you are growing rapidly and an attempt to be ripped and vascular will probably interfere with your ability to gain muscle mass. The teenage body does not want to be vascular. Many teens do not yet have the core musculature to have visible abs at reasonable bodyfat levels. It’s unwise to drop down to crazy low bodyfat levels in an attempt to see these marathon-runner abs. A much better plan is to keep at healthy bodyfat levels, say 8-12%, and work on getting stronger overall with a well rounded workout plan for a few years. Thats not to say that its OK to be fat, its not! Being obese doesn’t help you gain muscle but Getting rid of a belly is a great goal but for a teen, getting vascular 8-pack abs like Jeff Seid is a poor goal.
Live class, Feb 25 7:00pm Eastern
I will give an interactive classroom type talk on teen bodybuilding then answer live questions on the topic via video-skype. The below embedded video will not play until the broadcast has begun: