Getting started on a proper weight training program at a young age offers many benefits and will set you up for optimal progress in the long run.
While the primary time for muscular growth is going to be the late teenage years of eighteen to nineteen and then throughout your twenties (as this is when testosterone is highest), you can set yourself up better for the later training years by building a strong base of knowledge about the different weight training exercises you can perform early on.
Many individuals question whether they are too young to begin weightlifting, but provided you are using proper form and keeping weights at a reasonable level, you can get started around the age of fifteen or sixteen. If you're younger than that and looking for strength enhancement, you're better off focusing on bodyweight exercises until you're just a little bit older and your body is able to handle the weight training.
Here are the main points you'll want to keep in mind as you go about getting ready to start a weight lifting program as a teenager.
1. Book A Session With A Personal Trainer
The first thing you'll want to do before getting started is book a session with a personal trainer. They will help ensure that you are using the right types of exercises as well as using proper form.
Teenagers who neglect this and just dive in thinking they know what's best are usually the ones who either wind up injured down the road, or else develop very poor habits that become incredibly hard to break later on.
2. Keep Weight Moderate, Reps Higher
Moving on, another important thing you must do is make sure you keep the weight slightly lighter, while bringing the reps higher. It's not going to be in your best interest as a younger teenager to be lifting very heavy weight in the low rep range unless you are under very special supervision and have a specific purpose for doing so.
Instead, focus on ensuring you're using proper form while still using enough weight to stimulate improvements in strength. Since you're young and your body is just getting used to weight training in the first place, you'll likely see results just because of this fact alone. You won't need a great deal of heavy stimulation to get the body responding and improving your level of fitness.
Using a lower weight also helps keep you safer, preventing injuries from occurring.
3. Use Straight Sets
Next, concentrate on doing regular sets performed with a solid weight throughout the entire set. (Now is the not the time to be experimenting with some of the advanced training principles out there such as drop sets, supersets, pyramiding sets, and so on.)
Once you've gained a better strength base and are absolutely sure you're using correct form, then you can consider implementing some of the more advanced principles into your workout program.
4. Take At Least Three Days Off A Week
When you're starting training at a younger age, you'll also want to make sure that you are giving your body plenty of rest. This is really going to help ensure that you are not overtaxing the nervous system, hindering your ability to grow.
During the early to late teenage years, growth is going to be taking place at a maximum rate so you don't want to work your system so hard that it does not have the energy necessary to complete this growth.
You often hear the statement that weight training at a young age will stunt growth. This isn't necessarily true—it is a lack of proper nutrition that will stunt growth more than anything. Being sure you're not overworking your body and are feeding it enough will help you get on track to results.
5. Avoid Supplements
While it may seem tempting to take one of the many supplements that are out on the market to promote muscle growth, avoid doing so for now. At this age you really want to make an effort to maximize your diet, as that will be enough to see great results in itself.
Throughout the teenage years and even when you're in your early twenties, your testosterone level and growth potential is going to be incredibly high, so get on a solid diet plan and watch the results unfold.
Two exceptions to this are protein powder and fish oil. If you wish to use these in order to help meet your daily needs, they can be a good option, just be sure you're eating plenty of food sources that contain protein as well.
6. Maintain Realistic Goals
Finally, you want to make sure you're maintaining realistic goals at all times. Be patient with your own body and realize that results will come, you just may need to give it time.
Many younger males have bodies that simply don't start to develop until the later teenage years, so working out hard isn't going to do a whole lot to build significant muscle at that point. True, you may be able to gain 5 pounds or so, but don't expect dramatic changes. Once puberty hits and you start noticing other changes in your body, that is a signal that your muscle-building efforts will also start really showing up as well.
You'll still benefit from a good strength training program, but don't be too concerned at this point with exactly how you look. Focus on the process instead and before you know it you will be adding the muscle tissue you're looking for.
If you're young and excited to get started with muscle building, definitely do so. It's great to have this interest and to develop good habits at a young age. Just be sure you stay safe while doing so, get proper guidance, and allow your body enough rest so you don't compromise height and development growth.