This was written by a teenager for teenagers. Like most people, I was lost and didn't know my way around a gym when I first started. Thanks to this site, I now know a lot. I don't consider myself a professional, or some sort of fitness guru by any means at all, but I believe I know what I need to know. So, I'm hoping this guide will be a good start to your learning.
The Basics For Teens
Without motivation, you won't have the drive to get the body you want, which will actually impact how much effort you put into a workout. Ask yourself....."Why do I workout?" Is it to impress people? Make you feel good about yourself? Whatever the reason, you should think about it. I know this might sound vain, but after you've finished working out, check yourself out in the mirror. After a tough workout and you're all pumped, your body fills out and shapes the way you wish it did and it does make you look good. That inspires you.
Working out while ill
If you come down with an illness you should just wait for it to clear before working out again. Your body needs to fight the virus, and working out will put your body under more pressure and you'll spread the virus around the gym.
Warming up, cooling down, stretching
It is important to warm up before a workout, and cool down and stretch after a workout. Doing so will help prevent injuries, get you into shape and make you more flexible. It'll also help with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which is basically pain or stiffness you feel after a day or two of a tough workout. If you happen to feel this pain then don't worry, it is normal.
Without rest, your muscles will not grow. Going to the gym everyday and doing bicep curls everyday will not make your biceps grow. If you repeatedly go to the gym, working the same muscle group with extreme intensity, you won't make it grow. You will damage the muscle and possibly make them shrink. "Less is more" in the case of weightlifting. Any routine on this site will keep you right.
In The Gym
To build muscle effectively you need to lift with good "form". Meaning, only the muscle group that the exercise targets should be used. If you feel that your form is poor, lessen the weight. There is no shame in that. Lifting a light weight with good form is better than lifting a heavy weight with poor form. It doesn't matter that the guy next to you is lifting a weight much heavier than you, you need to focus on what YOU are doing.
Compound and isolation exercises
Compound exercises target more than one muscle group, while isolation exercises target one muscle group. Compound exercises are generally better because:
- The increased amount of muscles used will send out a "distress call" to release more hormones, like testosterone, which helps make your muscles grow.
- You can normally handle a heavier weight with compound exercises.
Some compound exercises:
Don't miss out on these exercises. They're tough and that's the point, you'll get the results you want from them. If a workout is "easy" then you didn't push yourself hard enough.
As a beginner you will need to start on a beginner's routine. This will allow your muscles and tendons to get ready for tougher routines and will allow you to practice your lifting form. Here are the beginner routines from this site:
You may know someone real skinny, they never workout, but their abs are really visible. It's because their bodyfat percentage is low. If you want visible abs you need a low bodyfat percentage, around 10% or below. It doesn't matter how many sit-ups, crunches or leg raises you do, your abs won't be visible without a low bodyfat percentage. Saying that, you shouldn't NOT do ab exercises just because you can't see them.
Diet & Nutrition For Teens
I shouldn't call it a "diet", but a "lifestyle". It's something you'll always have to do. You can't just get the body you want and then stop "dieting", or you'll eventually lose everything you've worked hard for. Dieting is THE most important part of muscle building.
If you want to bulk you're going to have to eat 500 more calories than your body burns of a day, so by the end of the week you will have gained 1 lb in bodyweight. If you need to work out how many calories you need to eat a day use this site calculator:
- BMR Calculator (Remember to add 500 to this number)
Next, you need to figure out what to eat and create a meal plan. This is difficult at first, but it's easy once you learn. For best results, split the calories up so 30% is protein, 50% is carbohydrates & 20% is fat. This is called a PCF Ratio.
So let's say your daily calorie intake is 3000:
- 50% of 3000 - 1500 Calories /4 = 375g Carbs
- 30% of 3000 - 900 Calories / 4 = 225g Protein
- 20% of 3000 - 600 Calories / 9 = 60g Fat
So this person needs to eat a total of 375g of carbs a day, 225g of protein a day and 60g of fat a day. I divided carbs and protein by 4 because they contain 4 calories per gram, and I divided fat by 9 because fat contains 9 calories per gram.
With me so far?
It's recommended to eat about 6 meals a day spread out over roughly 3 hours, so you divide the total number of carbs, protein and fat by 6 to find out how much of it you need per meal:
- 375g Carbs / 6 - 63g Per meal (6x a day)
- 225g Protein / 6 - 38g Per meal (6x a day)
- 60g Fat / 6 - 10g Per meal (6x a day)
Now that you know how much to eat, you need to know what foods to eat, there are several tables in this article showing you what foods you can eat and it also shows their nutrition values:
Look through that list and create a meal plan using the foods you like.
"Cutting" is removing excess fat while maintaining muscle. This will give you your "ripped" look.
Here is a lengthy article on how to cut, it's a good read.
Supplements For Teens
Supplements are NOT needed, but they can help. Before you think about taking any supplements, make sure your diet is in check, otherwise the supplements will do you no good. Seriously they won't, I know from experience.
Some of the supplements available to you:
Is the highest quality of protein available and is a must if you want to supplement. Probably best taken upon awakening and in your post workout (PWO) shake (The shake immediately after your workout).
It's basically a quick and easy way to get your protein.
An example of a whey product: Optimum Nutrition Whey Gold Standard
Put simply, as soon as you begin lifting, your muscles start to use up it's initial source of fuel (ATP) and it runs out very quickly (a matter of seconds), creatine replenishes ATP, so it'll help you blast through those last difficult reps. A very highly recommended product. Adding 5g of creatine into your PWO shake will be enough.
On off days, take it in the morning with water.
An example of a creatine product: Creatine Monohydrate
Basically, if you want the nutrients from your other supplements, to enter your muscle cells quickly, add 60-70g of dextrose to your PWO shake.
An example of a Dextrose product: Glycomaize
I've yet to study glutamine in much detail, for now, follow this link:
If you want a constant supply of protein while you sleep you can look into "casein":
You can also look into "Animal Pak":
So an example of post workout shake could be:
- 30-40g of Whey
- 5g of Creatine
- 60-70g of Dextrose
- 10-20g of Glutamine
Of course, all your really going to need is whey and a multivitamin, but if you can afford the others then feel free. Try to avoid creatine until your 18+. I read that it can mess up your bodies ability to produce creatine naturally.
Teens & Steroids
As a teen myself, I understand the hype and attraction to steroids, but don't take them. Your testosterone levels are at their highest during your teen years anyway. It's risky, stupid and not worth the risk. Even if you gained a lot of muscle on them, you would lose a lot of it coming off of them. I know people who have taken them and I'm aware of the side effects they have had. You can get the same gains naturally and honestly. Steroids are a drug, and as with any drug, there are side effects:
- Stunted growth
- High blood pressure
- Liver tumors
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Reduced sperm count
- Development of breasts
Well that's about it for my guide. I think it covers the basics of what you need to know. If there is anything you don't understand, there are still PLENTY of other articles and experienced members to learn from.