Why Start Bodybuilding as a Teen?
Bodybuilding is a great way to keep your physical fitness in top shape through your teen years and to build the dedication to keep your fitness past your 20s. Bodybuilding can be focused on your personal goals: losing weight, building muscle, improving athletic performance and more. The term “bodybuilding” doesn’t necessarily mean competing, but competitions are a great way to find motivation and build community with like-minded people.
How to Start Bodybuilding as a Teen
To start safely, use bodyweight exercises to get your body used to the idea of resistance training. Once your comfortable with bodyweight exercises, start with light weights to incorporate dumbbell and barbell exercises. This allows you the time to work on your form, which helps prevent injury and helps work the muscles to their fullest extent.
Start with compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. This way, you’ll start building muscle evenly and gradually. Light weight exercises to work on include squats, bench press, shoulder press, and deadlifts. Avoid isolation exercises that focus on one specific muscle group until you’ve built your muscles efficiently with compound exercises.
In terms of volume training, keep your volume slightly lower to make progress while allowing your muscles time to recover properly. Since bodybuilding is new to your body, you need more time to recover than someone who has been training for years. Remember – everyone starts somewhere, and you don’t need to push yourself too much and risk injury. Start at 25 reps or less for about 4-6 exercises per workout and adjust as you grow and change your muscles.
Since overly intense weight training can sap your energy and leave you without the energy you need for natural growth, working on low weights and increasing slowly is important to bodybuilding safely. Generally, you’ll want to increase by no more than 10% per week. Make sure that you’re supporting your body’s natural energy by increasing your calorie intake as needed. The general rule is that teens need 18-20 calories per pound of body weight. That’s approximately 3,000 calories for a 150-pound teen working out consistently.
Do I Need Cardio?
Cardio exercise is something that’s been looked down in the past by bodybuilders of old, but cardio exercise is important to your heart health and overall fitness and stamina. As many teens are already active in cardio-heavy sports, like track, soccer, or baseball, your cardio planning is dependent on your sports practices. Work to include two or three 30-minute cardio sessions a week if you’re not already getting that amount through activities. This can be achieved by hiking, biking, running, and more.
What About Supplements?
Supplements can certainly help teen athletes as much as adult ones. The main thing is to make sure you’re using supplements that are safe for growing and changing bodies. If you’re also a competitive athlete, make sure your supplements are clean to use according to your sport’s governing bodies.
The number one type of supplementation for teens? Protein powder. Protein powder is a great way to help support the protein your body needs for muscle growth and strength. Teens need a higher number of calories to support their bodies’ natural growth, so protein powder is a great way to help you get the amount of protein you need.
Another great supplement is a multivitamin. Teen diets are often lacking in vitamins and minerals that you find in fruits and vegetables. To support your body with key nutrients, add a multivitamin to your morning routine. Taking one can help support your overall health and fitness goals.
If you’re looking for another supplement, BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are the essential amino acids that build protein. BCAAs are known to support muscle growth and recovery. BCAAs come in powder form that stir easily into water.
Building a Support System
Your support system starts by finding a great mentor. A mentor can be anyone: a friend, a coach, or family member. It’s important to have someone to talk to about your progress and to push you farther. A mentor is someone who wants to see you succeed. They keep you accountable and help you push past rough spots.
From there, you can build out a community of other bodybuilders and gym goers. Get to know the people who frequent your gym and figure out who you can rely on for friendship and advice. It’ll help you have people who can understand where you are and where you want to be on your fitness journey.
Find Your Inner Determination
The most important piece to teen bodybuilding is to find your inner determination and to set your mind to your goals. If you are determined to succeed, you can push past all of the obstacles you might face. Setting goals is an important step in finding that mindset. Think about setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. You should have short term goals that you can achieve if you reach for it.