Welcome to the awkward age of being a teenager. We’ve all been there, so we totally get everything you’re going with. Fitting in while trying to be your own self. School and sports. There’s so much going on and life is in your hand.
But what happens if the rest of your body isn’t showing off and developing the kind of muscle you’d like? What can you do?
Well, it’s true, you may not have the kind of body you see in the magazines, and there is a good reason for this. But what can you do?
We’ve got all the answers for what you can do to help bulk up on teen muscle.
First, What Kind of Teen Muscle Do You Need?
So this is something you need to stop and determine before moving forward.
What kind of muscle and body figure do you need?
Now, what exactly do we mean by this?
Well, look at what sport you play. If you’re not playing a sport and you just want to put on size simply to put on the size you can disregard this question. But there is a difference between say basketball muscle and football muscle. Basketball you need longer muscles. Here you want more definition and stretch than bulk and size. Putting on some muscle weight and definition can help (especially if you want to be a powerful center or power forward). But you still want to remain more lean and long.
Now, if you want football muscle, which is both size and power, you’ll want to shoot for bulking up (without putting on additional fat).
So consider the sport you play and even look for the professional athletes and their body makeup.
That can help you determine what sort of muscular body you should aim for.
Why Can’t I Put On Muscle!?
This is probably one of the most common questions we receive when it comes to putting on muscle as a teenager (especially a younger teenager). The situation is one or two-fold.
First, look at your weight lifting workout. Are you actually putting in real work and pushing your body?
You can’t just do one or two lifts and call it a day. You won’t tear down your muscles enough to bring about necessary change. You need to push it. You need to hit your muscles in every angle. We recommend using five or so lifts that hit the area (you can do more, but we realize you have other activities you need to take care of during the day).
Also, you need to push yourself with weights. When trying to bulk up, the ideal number of lifts is between eight and 12. If you can move past 12 you’re lifting too light. If you’re not able to hit eight you’re lifting too heavy. So find your sweet spot and lift until failure (when you can’t pump out another lift) and focus on the 8-12 sets per rep.
The second problem, which may be the bigger problem if you really are pushing yourself, is your metabolism.
Your dad always says he’d kill to have your metabolism back. You can eat anything and nothing sticks. That’s exactly the point. Your body is working so well that the protein you do eat is processed too quickly. Your body doesn’t have enough time to repair your muscles and build up the size. Sure, there might be other people around who don’t seem to have that kind of problem, and we can get into that in a moment, but your fast burning metabolism has something to do with it. Thankfully, this is something you can work around as well.
Other Teen Muscle Problems
So maybe you’ve got the fast burning metabolism that’s zapping your protein, or maybe you just weren’t pushing yourself at the gym. Those can be corrected.
But what are some other problems you might be facing and you don’t know it just yet?
Actually, there are several.
Are you training your entire body?
Yes, that means your legs.
Sure, we all love having the broad shoulders, powerful chest, and sizable arms. But if you’re not working your lower half you’re not properly lifting or developing yourself.
First, you have more muscle from your butt down than your chest up. Plus, your leg muscles are the largest muscles of your body, which means you can work these easier, burn more calories and increase muscle development faster. And trust us when we say this, others will notice your butt. Whomever you’re trying to attract, a solid, weight lifter’s booty is something others will take notice. So while yeah, big shoulders and arms are great, it’s often the curve of a booty that is the icing on the cake.
Next, are you the party type?
Don’t worry, we’re not going to report you to the local police. So maybe don’t answer that question audibly (unless you’re in Canada or Mexico and are 19…then it’s legal). But if you do go out and polish of beers with friends or are taking shots of who knows what disgusting cinnamon flavored “whiskey”, you’re preventing your body from doing its job and you stunt your ability to build muscle. So if you’re serious about putting on muscle, cut the alcohol and any other drugs you might be taking.
Are you sleeping enough?
Your body repairs itself primarily while at rest. Sure, you might be able to last better off of four hours of sleep than some of us older folks, but your body can’t do it’s job on this four hours of sleep. Ideally you’ll schedule in eight hours of sack time, but anything less than six and your body just doesn’t have the needed time to rebuild the damaged muscles.
Another Factor Stopping You From Building Teen Muscle: Your Form Sucks
Alright, so maybe that’s a bit harsh. But you know what, the truth hurts. Proper form is crucial in developing gains. If you perform lifts incorrectly you limit your gains, train other areas of your body and open yourself up to injury. Yes, curling those larger dumbbells looks good and offers a boost to anyone’s personal vanity. But if you’re twisting your back up and down with every curl you’re not really doing anything to your biceps. You need to maintain proper form if you want to boost your muscle development.
We do have news for you. Those mirrors in the gyms are not for Instagram selfies. It’s also not to admire your veins when curling up. It’s to check out your own form. So practice good form with every lift you do.
Have a spotter who knows what he or she is doing. There’s no shame in asking for help or talking to your gym if they have a trainer who would be willing to work with you and at least show you what you’re doing wrong and what you need to do to correct it. Because when you use improper form, you’re just wasting your time.
I Take Every Supplement And Nothing Works!
It’s so easy to fall into the supplement trap. You go down to the workout and fitness section at the store and just buy up everything you can. Perhaps you go to a supplement store (cough *GNC* cough) and they sell you a bunch of stuff they say you need.
Here’s the thing.
Many of those supplements don’t do anything, and the people at GNC make much of their money on commission, so tricking people into buying stuff they don’t need is almost part of the job description (If you know what you want, these supplement stores are great, but do research ahead of time as being gullible in a supplement store is a great way to blow hundreds of dollars).
So stop with all the supplements. We’ll give you a list of what you should take right here:
- Vitamin C
There are other supplements that offer some benefits, but as a teenager, these are the items you need to begin with. You probably aren’t getting enough of all your vitamins, so a multivitamin is always important. You should also add Vitamin C simply because it helps fight against infections and sickness while giving you energy.
As for protein, you would ideally want to shoot for around 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound you weigh. If after a few months of really working out and following the regimen and you see no gains at all you’ll want to increase this just a small amount (don’t go over 1.5 grams per pound you weigh). Your metabolism may again be blowing through all your protein.
Additionally, if you’re eating a low carb diet you’re the body is using more protein as energy, which means your muscles are not receiving as much, so you should look toward adding more carbs as well so your body uses carbs as energy and the protein can go toward muscle growth.
Creatine will help you pump out more reps per set. Now, if your buying all these things and your parents start questioning you about it (we hear about this with parents looking up creatine and assuming the foreign word must be some kind of steroid), tell them the body makes creatine naturally. It’s the energy source for fast twitch muscle fibers (which are the muscles used for explosive movements, like fast movements on a basketball court, sprinting on a track of pushing up a bench press). However, creatine levels are quickly depleted, so by adding in creatine to your diet, you’ll be able to squeeze off an extra rep or two.
As for BCAAs, these are amino acids that helps your body recover after a workout and repair damage done to the muscles. When you struggle to put on any kind of muscle size, this can help out a ton.
Help! I Work Out At Home And Don’t Have Massive Weights!!
Take a deep breath. It’s alright. You can still see muscle gains without hitting the gym and lifting super big. It’s true. So maybe you have your pop’s hand-me-down weights. It’s not a ton, but it’s fine.
You just don’t have the massive weight for big lifts and you don’t have the cash to invest in those things (we recommend looking around garage sales as these are good spots to pick up weights). While ideally you could go bigger with weights, if you can’t, simply slow down your lift.
So, instead of blowing through the bench press as quickly as possible until failure, lift up over a count of two, hold at the top for a count of two, lower down for a count of two, hold there for a count of two, and repeat. There are actually great benefits in lifting lighter and slower.
First, you actually keep your muscles engaged for longer (in every lift there are inherent rest periods, but when you go slow and hold, your muscles remain engaged). Plus, when you go slow going down, you work the adverse muscle. For the bench press, it’s the back. Most people who lift big let the bar go down quickly, which cuts down on the work the back does.
However, by going slow, you increase the tension on the reverse muscles (when doing curls, the reverse are the triceps). You’ll be amazed as to just what kind of workout you can get by lifting light. It’s just understanding how to use lighter weights.
Stay Focused and Consistent
Gains take time. You’re not going to see muscle growth after a week. So stay consistent. If we could recommend a workout schedule, workout your chest and back on Monday, shoulders and arms on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, repeat and have Sunday off. Stick with this. After a few weeks, you’ll start to see little changes in your body. Maybe there’s more definition in the shoulder.
Perhaps you start to see a vein in your abdominal area that you didn’t see earlier. Your booty seems to look a bit more defined and rounded. These changes come a little bit at a time.
But stay with it.
You’ll see those muscle gains!