Turning Teens into Titans - Guide to Adding Muscle Size

Teens and Bodybuilding

Never Neglect any Muscle Groups as a Body Builder

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In The Weightlifting Encyclopedia Arthur Drechsler writes, "The potential for increasing an athlete's muscle mass is never greater than during the athlete's late teens and early 20s." He further adds that a trainee (in his example, one aspiring to be a competitive bodybuilder) would be at a distinct disadvantage if failed to capitalize on this favorable situation.

Make no mistake. With proper training and proper nutrition you'll be able to pack on a lot of muscular bodyweight surprisingly fast. But you must avoid unnecessary mistakes, or else you will travel down a path that will lead only to frustration and/or injury. Don't let the idea of instant gratification end your bodybuilding career before it even starts.

Let's begin by covering the specifics of a weight-gain diet geared toward teenagers. Start with one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, one gram of fat for every three grams of protein, and two grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein. For a 180-pound teen this amounts to 180 grams of protein, 60 grams of fat and 360 grams of carbs, totaling 2,700 calories. Now add another one-third of the daily total (in this case 900 calories) for your junk-food daily allowance. For our theoretical 180-pounder this would amount to 3,600 calories, which puts him at the often-recommended goal of 20 calories per pound of bodyweight. Three-quarters of your diet will consist of "clean" calories like tuna, vegetables, milk, walnuts and eggs. The other quarter will be foods such as pizza, ice cream and hamburgers.

If a high-calorie diet is not too strict, you'll be more likely to stick with it and consistently get enough musclebuilding calories. To gain as much muscle as possible, you shouldn't be overly concerned about getting fat at this point in your life. Don't restrict your caloric intake needlessly in an attempt to improve muscle size and definition simultaneously. Try to eat at every opportunity. If you're still going to school, take enough food with you to eat during breaks as well as at lunch.

Don't go turning yourself into a lard-ass, though. If your waist becomes your fastest-growing measurement, stop overdoing the junk food!

Protein and meal-replacement powders should be at the top of your nutritional supplement list. These products add convenient sources of much-needed protein and calories, especially if you aren't a very good cook. They count as part of your "clean" calorie intake. If you're not taking a meal replacement daily, consider investing in a multivitamin/mineral supplement as well.

Don't forget the most important meal of the day - no, not breakfast, but the meal you eat immediately after your workout. A liquid meal is often the most convenient. Mix a soluble protein powder with a high-glycemic index-rated carbohydrate, like glucose or maltodextrin. Read the label on any popular carbo powder at your local health-food store to check carbohydrate sources. The usual recommendation for carbs is 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Consume approximately 25 percent of your daily protein in the postworkout meal.

Now, on to the workout. The following is a three-days-per-week routine, to be performed on nonconsecutive days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for example).



I'd prefer you do the 20-rep variety, but I know that not all of you will want to use this regimen. For those not willing to undertake the challenging yet incredibly rewarding 20-rep squat routine (wimps!), I suggest the 5 x 5 method advocated by strength coach Bill Starr. Start with a warmup set using approximately 50 to 60 percent of your heaviest squat. Then pyramid up in roughly equal weight increases until you reach your heaviest weight on the fifth set. If you squat 255 pounds for 5 reps, the set progression could look like this: 135 x 5,165 x 5,190 x 5,220 x 5 and finally your top set of 255 pounds for 5 reps.

Bench presses

Though you may be surprised (and disappointed), this program includes limited work for the chest so that you can concentrate on leg, back and shoulder development. Do only 1 or 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps. Heavier, lower-rep sets will usually shift the focus from the pectoral muscles to the triceps and deltoids.

Donkey calf raises

If you don't have the flexibility to do these, do standing calf raises, preferably one leg at a time, holding a dumbbell rather than using a machine. Do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps with only 30 to 45 seconds' rest between sets. Because of the short rests you may have to reduce the weight after each set.


Do 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps. If you have access to a Swiss ball, do crunches on it. Regardless, though, remember that ultrahigh reps are not the best way to strengthen your abs.


Dumbbell rows

Use the 5 x 5 method described above. After your last set of dumbbell ' rows do one set of partial chinups. Starting from the bottom position, pull yourself up only halfway, doing as many reps as possible.

Overhead presses

Use the 5 x 5 method on this exercise as well. Do these standing instead of seated, and don't allow yourself to lean back too much.

Incline hammer curls

Do 1 or 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps. Remember to keep your upper arm perpendicular to the floor throughout the movement.


Romanian deadlifts

The main difference between these and stiff-leg deadlifts is that you always do Romanian deadlifts with an arched back. Sometimes you do stiff-leg deadlifts with an arched back, and sometimes not. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 reps.

Lying barbell extensions

Big triceps are more important to massive-looking upper arms than big biceps, so the triceps get more direct work. Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps. If these irritate your elbows, try doing them on a decline bench.

Wrist curls

Do 1 set of wrist curls and 1 set of reverse wrist curls with 6 to 8 reps in each set. If you get bored with wrist curls, get your hands on a catalog from Randall Strossen's company, IronMind. This company probably sells a wider variety of grip- and wrist- strengthening equipment than any other.


Same instructions here as for day one.

Except for the exercises that use the 5 x 5 method, do 2 or 3 warmup sets of 5 reps each prior r to the work sets listed. Rest between warmup sets should be about 30 seconds, while rest . between work sets can range from f two to five minutes (except for calves). Smaller bodyparts will need less rest than larger bodyparts. For the 5 x 5 method the rest between all sets is two to five minutes. Earlier sets need less rest while later sets need more.

Do not go to failure on any of the sets. Stop each work set when you've done as many complete reps with proper form as possible. Struggling with a final impossible rep is not necessary to stimulate muscle growth, though high-intensity training zealots may say otherwise.

An effective workout plan is only part of the equation. You must train consistently to get optimal results. Training erratically causes your body to constantly fluctuate between de-training and re-training. Though periodic decreases in training load can be very beneficial to a trainee, this does not mean your training should be filled with stops and starts. Different qualities deteriorate at different rates during a prolonged layoff. For instance, you may retain your strength level even after two weeks without training. However, your body's ability to withstand the rigors of training may have waned. You could be more susceptible to overtraining, even though you still feel strong.

While you may be able to get away with almost any kind of training imprudence when you're young, that does not mean you needn't worry about developing bad habits.

Be careful, or else injuries will pile up over the years.

Being flexible usually isn't much of an issue for beginning bodybuilders. Weight training, though, can cause inflexibility if you don't train through a full range of motion and stretch regularly. Australian strength coach Ian King has even recommended that a trainee devote as much time to flexibility training as to weight training. King is highly successful and well respected in his field, so his advice is well worth considering.

If you are a teenager deciding whether or not to take the plunge and start training seriously, just think of all the untapped potential you have inside you. For those who are already working out, I commend you and encourage you to continue. Weight training can be a wonderfully rewarding activity. Along the way in your training career you'll develop greater self-discipline and self-confidence.

Oh yeah, having hot chicks ogling at you isn't so bad, either.

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