You’re a young guy, and you want to build some muscle? Welcome to the club! As you’ve probably noticed, just about every teen out there wants to get bigger and stronger, and trainers and supplement companies have definitely caught on. Everywhere you look – online or in-person – people are trying to sell you one product after another, most of them complete junk. It doesn’t help that most of the training and diet info on the market just plain sucks either.
Don’t worry, though. Getting big and into muscle building as a teen is pretty damn simple. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s certainly not as confusing as some people would have you believe. If you’re young, healthy, and eager, there are a just a few things you’ve got to get right in order to make incredible gains. Here they are…
If your first concern is how you’ll train, or worse – what supplements you’ll take – you’ve got it all wrong! All the training in the world won’t make you gain weight, and your hard work will be for nothing if you don’t eat right. And by “eat right,” I don’t mean you need to turn into some kind of health nut. You’ve got to eat BIG!
What should you eat? First, you’ll need to focus on protein. Fats and carbs are important, sure, but protein foods will lay the foundation for a proper muscle-building diet. They’re also the most expensive, and they take the most time to prepare, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.
If you’re on a budget, focus first on eggs, ground beef, and dark meat poultry. Don’t worry about the fat, either. Contrary to popular belief, eating dietary fat is NOT what makes you fat. If you’re really struggling to gain weight, you’ll need those extra calories, too. These fattier protein foods will provide you with the nutrients you need to grow, they taste good, and they won’t break the bank. Aim for at least one gram of animal protein per pound of your body weight; more is even better.
For your carbs, stick with the basics – potatoes, rice, oats, and other complex sources. You can probably get away with some bread or cereal here and there, but try to stick to the healthier options. And whatever you do, stay away from refined sugar. It’s the one thing that’s sure to make you gain A LOT more fat than muscle.
Last but not least, get your extra fats from oils, nuts, avocados, and even some butter. Your metabolism will determine how much extra fat you need, so don’t go crazy if you’re already gaining weight. You should be looking to gain around three or four pounds per month, no more. If the scale moves faster that that, you’re probably just getting fat.
Curls and sit-ups are all well and good, but they won’t make you big. If you really want to pack on the size, you need to focus nearly all of your efforts on a few big movements. Squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls should be the mainstay of your program, and you should constantly strive to get stronger.
Want a bigger chest? Improve your bench press and dipping strength. Bigger legs? Squat more. A bigger back? Deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups are where it’s at. For now, forget all the nonsense about “feeling” this or that muscle with fancy little exercises. Developing a mind-muscle connection is certainly important, but those dinky isolation exercises aren’t going to do much at all.
As for sets and reps, you should mainly work in the 5-8 range, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. Maxing out is fun, but it only tests your strength; it doesn’t actually build it. Learn to leave your ego at the door, and focus on getting a few quality reps with weights you can actually handle. Keep a training log, too, and always strive to beat your previous numbers.
I already mentioned squats, but this warrants extra emphasis: don’t ignore your legs! Your quads, hamstrings, hips, and glutes comprise about half of your body mass, and you’ll never get big if you don’t give them enough attention. In fact, working your legs is the quickest way to gain OVERALL body strength. Have you ever seen someone with a massive squat and a pitiful bench press? It just doesn’t happen that often.
Really, you should be training your legs as often as you train any other body part. If you’re splitting your routine into different muscle groups (chest day, back day, etc.), then go ahead and do TWO leg days per week. It might seem crazy at first, but your body will get used to the stress. And, if you’re doing an upper-body / lower-body routine, then of course you should be squatting and deadlifting at least once per week.
Don’t forget your calves, either. I know tons of guys who are now playing catch-up because they never took calf training seriously. If your only goal is to get stronger on the big lifts, then I suppose it doesn’t matter – but nobody really wants dinky calves, right? Treat them like any other body part. Hit them as hard and as often as you can, and strive for more reps and more weight on calf raises.
If there’s one last thing you need to get through your head, it’s this: gaining muscle takes time! As a teen, you’re in the muscle-building prime of your life, and then gains are never going to come as quickly as they are now. Still, it’s easy to get over-zealous and expect insane gains overnight.
Again, you should be shooting for about three or four pounds of weight gain per MONTH. Some sources will claim that two pounds per week is reasonable, but I think that’s nuts. If you even sustained that for six months, you’d end up gaining fifty pounds! Sure, some of that would be muscle, but most of it would be fat. If you’re training hard and eating right, the weight should come on slowly and steadily.
Overall, consistency is the name of the game. Some months will be better than others, so just keep moving things forward. Keep plugging away with your diet and training, and always strive to add more weight to the bar. Do this day in and day out for the next few months, and you’ll be amazed at how fast you actually progress.
Article by Sixpackfactory’s Muscle Building Expert and Top Fitness Model Justin Woltering. Get more info on Justin at: http://www.justinwoltering.com/