Teen bodybuilding is growing at an alarming rate, as enthusiastic teens hit the gym every night of the week. I don't blame them. Teen bodybuilding is one of the most effective ways to boost a skinny guys self-confidence and self-image. Did I also mention lots of attention and admiration from the ladies and respect from the guys. Teen bodybuilding does not just help out with vanity but promotes a nutritious diet, disciplined lifestyle, and strong work ethic.
Teen bodybuilding can start at a very young age allowing young fitness enthusiasts a whole new world to pursue. Teen bodybuilding is an excellent way to promote a healthy lifestyle since it requires regular weight training, cardiovascular training, balanced nutrition and even stimulation of the mind since the topic of teen bodybuilding involves constant education. Teen bodybuilding can also help you erase nicknames like “Skinny Mini”, “Scrawny”, “Tooth Pick”, “Twiggy”, and in my own personal case, “Skinny Vinny”!
Unfortunately teen bodybuilding is not as easy as it looks and can result in injury, bad habits and frustration if stated with out structure and progression.
So the question is, how is teen bodybuilding done right? Should teen bodybuilders read the latest bodybuilding magazines? Learn from their friends or a professional? Train every day or every other day? Rely on supplements? Start when they are done growing or earlier? Focus on endurance training heavy lifting? Teen bodybuilding has dozens of questions and many different opinions on each. Here is my top 10 tips to successful teen bodybuilding in no particular order:
1. Avoid Steroids
Duh! This might sound obvious and if you have not been offered steroids yet, make your stand now and be prepared to say 'no' when you get backed into a corner. Your body is flowing with more natural hormones than any steroid could replace. Don't screw up your natural hormonal levels at such a young age. Even though all your friends might laugh at you for not conforming to the pressure of using illegal drugs, be a real man and train drug free. In the end your friends will respect you more for staying away from the dark side.
2. Focus On Clean Eating
Old habits die hard. Believe it or not, the nutrition habits you are creating today will affect you all the way into your adult years. As a young teen bodybuilder, you have an opportunity to create good habits at an early age. Focus on eating clean carbohyrdates like whole wheat breads, oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, fruits and veggies. Focusing on eating a variety of clean proteins like tuna, chicken, fish, cottage cheese and protein shakes. Balance out your meals with clean fats like olive oil, fish oil, natural peanut butter and nuts. Take pride in the fact that you even know what clean eating is. Look at this as an opportunity to be an example to your friends to be walking statue of health! I promise you that you will have a few friends who admire your physique and ask you for advice!
3. Avoid One Body Part Workouts And Focus On A Full Body Workout
A full body workout? But all my friends are training chest tonight. And tomorrow they are training back. And on Wednesday they are training arms. But if you have the courage, you are not going to follow the herd and trust me. You are too young to be splitting up your muscles groups into only one body part a day. Unless you are pursuing a career in competitive bodybuilding, one-body part splits are an excellent way to over train at a young age. Look at it this way. Do you only eat once per week? Do you only take supplements once per week? Do you only sleep once per week? Do you only study once per week? Than why would you train your muscle groups only once per week? It does not make sense. Full body workouts will allow you to hit all your major muscle groups three times in the week, without overtraining, instead of only one time.
4. Emphasize Your Conditioning
Teen bodybuilding can actually become something that appear to be a lazy man's sport. Next time you walk into the weight room, count how many people are actually doing something. Seriously, I guarantee you will see more people standing around and talking, adjusting weights and staring in the mirror. Not many people are actually hustling from one exercise to another or even sweating. That's another reason to avoid one body-part bodybuilding style workouts. They don't emphasize your fitness or cardiovascular system. Your weight training program should be incorporating more than just weights. Balance out your sessions with some skipping, stair climbing, hard running, supersets, and really short rest periods. If you don't feel like you are going to throw up at the end of your weight training sessions, I have to question your workout intensity.
5. Stick to Basic Supplements
Your a teenager and should be saving your money for college and your first car. Don't get scammed by over hyped supplement ads that promise the world. Follow the saying, 'If it looks too good to be true, than most likely it is!” All you need to budget for now is a high quality multi-vitamin which you should take for life as well as a high quality protein powder in your arsenal and a regular omega-3 fish oil cap. Between these three supplements you are more than covered. Don't worry about creatine, glutamine, fat burners, testosterone boosters or even NO2 products. The first three to four years of your lifting should be done with just the basic supplements.
6. Learn Proper Technique First
How well do you think you would golf without supervision? How well do you think you will skate without coaching? How well do you think you will play piano without lessons? How much muscle do you think you will build without proper lifting technique? Not much!
I hope you are humble enough to swallow your pride and accept the fact that your first step should be getting professional coaching from a reputable fitness trainer. I know many of your friends will not even consider this and you will be told, 'just learn it yourself,' or 'watch others.' Can you imagine a medical surgeon or dentist who took this approach? Yikes!
Think about it. You are going to be lifting weights the rest of your life. Is spending a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars, on a professional fitness trainer, not going to pay you back over and over (for the rest of your life) if you do things correctly right from the start? Definitely! If you start lifting weights incorrectly, get ready to spend the money you saved on a coach for a rehab therapists next vacation! If you don't get injured now, most likely it will be in the next few years.
7. Stretch Just As Much As You Lift
Stretching is the most under rated physical quality which is unfortunate because shortened muscles perform weaker and slower and have a higher incidence of injury. Stretching is the only physical quality which more is better. Stretching is one of the only habits that can not be over trained.
If you are serious about getting into the world of teen bodybuilding, I encourage you to start this habit early. Most text books teach stretching methods that include 20-30 seconds per stretch. Don't even waste your time if this is your idea of stretching. From real world, in the trenches, experience, I would suggest stretching at least the same amount of time that you lift. That means, for every 1 hour of weight training you perform, you must balance the effect of weight training with one hour of stretching. Therefore, if you weight train 4 hours in the week, you better be stretching for at least 4 hours in the week. If you are really lazy, start stretching for at least half the amount of time that you lift. After you see the benefits of increased strength, quicker recovery and less injuries I am sure you will have no problem bumping up your stretching sessions to the recommend 1:1 ratio.
Fail to stretch at least the same amount that you lift is almost a sure fire way of shortening a teen bodybuilding career or lifestyle. Remember, weight training shortens and tightens the connective tissue you train. Stretching counters the effect and ensures your muscles have room to grow!
8. Focus On Bodyweight Strength First
It amazes me at how many teen bodybuilders can barely do a set of 40 push ups, 20 chin ups and 30 dips. In my opinion, these are some standard upper body fitness tests that should be accomplished with ease before loading is introduced (it might take your 3 or 4 months to achieve this if you can't do them right now). I once heard a famous fitness coach say, “You have no freaking business using a load if you can't stabilize, control, and move efficiently using your own bodyweight.” I would have to fully agree.
What's the point of a sloppy 150 pound lat pulldown if you can't do 10 bodyweight pull ups? What's the point of a 185 pound bench press with microscopic range reps, if you can push up your body a couple dozen times? What's the point of a 500 pound leg press if you can do a set of one legged squats down to the floor? Believe me, after a few months of conditioning your body to body weight training, you will be blown away by how quickly your weights climb when you introduce loading.
9. Keep Your Workouts Under 1 Hour
Unless you are in a teen bodybuilding competition for the longest workout possible, it bewilders my mind what you could possibly be doing for longer than a hour! Unless you go to the gym for mirror workouts (that's when you spend more time looking in the mirror than actually lifting)I suggest getting some help with your workout program. If it takes longer than 20-30 minutes of even moderate intensity lifting to fully exhaust a muscle, I have to question your workout intensity. Shorter more intense workouts will always trump longer less intense workouts.
Your goal should be in fact to complete your workout faster and faster. This will force your muscles to condition and adapt to a greater work load. The more work you expose your muscles too, in a shorter amount of time will improve your muscle density. Your bodies ability to tolerate greater workloads.
10. Develop Full Range Of Motion
Initially, teen bodybuilding should involve building strong muscular attachments, tendons, ligaments and bones – text books refer this as anatomical adaptation. Look at building your muscles as the finishing touches on a solid house. You would not want to start framing the house until the foundation has been built. Strengthening your tendons, ligaments and bones would be considered building a strong foundation to build from.
What is the best way to begin a strong foundation for a house to stand on? Build from the bottom up or in our case, from the inside out. This means developing a full range of motion with each weight training exercise to ensure all the muscle fiber gets activated and all the supporting tissues are fully involved.
Think about it. Partial movements will only develop partial muscle. Full movements will develop full muscle. What would get you better results? Squatting 135 pounds with your butt to the floor or squatting 225 pounds for about ¼ of the way? That's correct, involving the entire range of motion with a lighter weight will involve more musculature, improve your mind-muscle connection quicker and strengthen all the supporting tissues more rapidly. Initially, as a teen bodybuilder, you should never sacrifice range for load.
If you are serious about doing teen bodybuilding safely and effectively than take all of the tips very seriously. Do not pick and choose the ones you wish to follow. They will all result in a long and fruitful bodybuilding lifestyle. To your teen bodybuilding success!