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Motivating The Teenage Bodybuilder
You have an away game after school today, a chemistry test tomorrow, and college applications due the day after that. On top of that, your girlfriend's birthday is fast approaching, and your parents are constantly pressuring you about getting a job to learn some adult responsibility.
Anyone who says that being a teenager is easy obviously doesn't remember all this. As a 22-year old who recently graduated from college, I vividly recall this often-hectic period in my life when pressures mounted and time was scarce. But I am also the first person to tell you that working out and eating healthy are just as important as the many other commitments in your life-important enough to squeeze into your schedule whether you are a jock or nerd, homecoming king or drama queen, slacker or go-getter.
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With some changes in attitude and behavior, you can successfully manage your time to fit in quality workouts and correct your habits to adopt a diet that will boost your energy and overall health.
Make A Plan
Despite everything that is happening in your life, there is still a bit of time to goof off with friends, chat online, watch some TV here and there, and party on the weekends. No one's schedule is completely overflowing from sunup to sundown, so no one has an excuse to completely overlook proper exercise and nutrition.
Maybe you can get up a little early for a quick lift or run before your first class starts (although this is quite rare, since some high schools start as early as 7 a.m.). Maybe your school allows a long lunch, where you can squeeze in a meal and a workout in the school gym.
Maybe you have some downtime between your last class and your first extracurricular activity. This list of possibilities simply shows that the best time to train is the time that fits best into your schedule. No excuses allowed.
Define Your Goals
The only way to construct a nutrition and exercise plan is to know your goals. What you eat, how you train, and how you recover will all be determined by what you want from your regimen. If bulking up and increasing muscle mass is your main objective, be sure to consume an adequate amount and mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to facilitate muscle growth.
You will want to couple this diet with heavy, compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, row, bench press, pullup, etc. with adequate rest time for major muscle groups. On the other hand, if your goal is to cut down and increase definition, calorie intake must be lowered while still meeting nutritional needs.
Cardio will have to be mixed in with weight training to burn off those stubborn layers of fat. While I won't get into specific programs (please consult my other articles for more details related to training), the main point is that your bodybuilding and fitness goals will drive your overall routine, so be sure to think about this carefully before you hit the iron.
You just read the paragraph above and generally agree with everything-except the diet part. Too many teenagers, for one reason or another, think that healthy eating is something for adults to worry about.
While teens may be blessed with a higher metabolism that allows for added slack when it comes to dieting, proper eating habits can only help your athletic performance, mental sharpness, and overall appearance.
While there will be immediate gains from training at first, these gains will quickly plateau if you are putting junk in your body. Therefore, some very basic suggestions for cleaning up a diet are to eliminate sugary foods such as soda and candy, fatty foods low in nutrients such as fast food and potato chips, and processed foods such as white bread and prepackaged/canned foods.
Instead, opt for clean protein sources such as chicken, tuna, and low-fat milk, nutrient-dense carbohydrates such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes, and fresh fruits and vegetables. While I will not get into specific diets and nutritional programs, (please consult my other articles for more details related to training), know that what you eat matters just as much-if not more-than how you train. Don't waste those efforts in the gym with poor food choices.
Find Your Motivation
Now that you have a training split on the bulletin board in your room and a tub of whey protein powder in the cupboard, it's time to get to work.
Getting to work, however, is easier said than done and is even the hardest part for many teenagers and adults alike. Because it's very tempting to squander that free hour surfing the internet or watching TV, so many people need some extra motivation to get into the gym. Some techniques that have been proven effective are having a strict time to work out, training with a buddy, and specifying goals.
First Tip For Motivation
By selecting a specific time to work out each day, there is little room for excuses. "I'll workout later" and "I'll workout when I finish this or that" are not options.
For example, I train first thing in the morning. After waking up, I know I have a limited time window to get those vital exercises in because if I waste time, I'll be late for work, and I'll have to deal with the boss.
There will be mornings when waking up seems more grueling than any set of
deadlifts, so remember to listen to your body and rest. It will take some time to acclimate to your new routine, but in time, you will know exactly when to train and when to rest, making your sessions second nature.
Second Tip For Motivation
A second tip for motivation is to train with a
partner. This holds you accountable not only to yourself, but also to a friend or acquaintance. It's a lot more difficult to skip workouts when you know that there is someone in the gym waiting for you, someone whose workout depends on your presence.
In addition, having a training partner can make workouts a lot more intense and effective as your buddy
motivates you and vice versa. Believe it or not, having someone lift with you also greatly reduces the incidence of
injury. When working with heavy weights, especially if you are a beginner, it is always wise to have a spotter there to help you maintain proper form and to help you complete those last few reps without undue strain.
Third Tip For Motivation
The final motivation tip is to define and create a visual of your goal. If you want to pack on some muscle, hang up a "before" picture of yourself so you can track your progress as you get deeper and deeper into your regimen. Simply seeing yourself transform as a result of hard work is a great motivator that will keep you training hard and eating healthy.
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strength is your objective, keep a training log or journal to track the exact weights you lift, complete with reps and sets. After just a few months of dedication, you'll be surprised at how far you've come. You'll start heaving weights you never thought movable when you began a training regimen. Whatever your method, be sure that it is a medium that gets and keeps you fired up.
Teenagers have many responsibilities, activities, and commitments that seem to swallow up an entire day's schedule. However, this is also the perfect time to start an exercise and nutritional routine that will establish a solid base for a future in bodybuilding, fitness, athletics, or just overall good health.
Before throwing the weights around, though, you need to have a plan, a goal, and motivation. These first steps are always the most challenging because they involve revamping schedules and breaking old habits, but trust me, you'll be glad you did.