As discussed in part one, teen bodybuilding can start at a very young age allowing young fitness enthusiasts a whole new world to pursue. Teen bodybuilding is an excellent way to promote a healthy lifestyle since it requires regular weight training, cardiovascular training, balanced nutrition and even stimulation of the mind since the topic of teen bodybuilding involves constant education. Teen bodybuilding can also help you erase nicknames like "Skinny Mini," "Scrawny," "Tooth Pick," "Twiggy," and in my own personal case, "Skinny Vinny!"
Unfortunately teen bodybuilding is not as easy as it looks and can result in injury, bad habits and frustration if stated with out structure and progression. Here are the next five tips to successful teen bodybuilding:
6. Learn Proper Technique First
How well do you think you would golf without supervision? How well do you think you will skate without coaching? How well do you think you will play piano without lessons? How much muscle do you think you will build without proper lifting technique? Not much!
I hope you are humble enough to swallow your pride and accept the fact that your first step should be getting professional coaching from a reputable fitness trainer. I know many of your friends will not even consider this and you will be told, 'just learn it yourself,' or 'watch others.' Can you imagine a medical surgeon or dentist who took this approach? Yikes!
Think about it. You are going to be lifting weights the rest of your life. Is spending a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars, on a professional fitness trainer, not going to pay you back over and over (for the rest of your life) if you do things correctly right from the start? Definitely! If you start lifting weights incorrectly, get ready to spend the money you saved on a coach for a rehab therapists next vacation! If you don't get injured now, most likely it will be in the next few years.
7. Stretch Just As Much As You Lift
Stretching is the most under rated physical quality which is unfortunate because shortened muscles perform weaker and slower and have a higher incidence of injury. Stretching is the only physical quality which more is better. Stretching is one of the only habits that can not be over trained.
If you are serious about getting into the world of teen bodybuilding, I encourage you to start this habit early. Most text books teach stretching methods that include 20-30 seconds per stretch. Don't even waste your time if this is your idea of stretching. From real world, in the trenches, experience, I would suggest stretching at least the same amount of time that you lift. That means, for every 1 hour of weight training you perform, you must balance the effect of weight training with one hour of stretching. Therefore, if you weight train 4 hours in the week, you better be stretching for at least 4 hours in the week. If you are really lazy, start stretching for at least half the amount of time that you lift. After you see the benefits of increased strength, quicker recovery and less injuries I am sure you will have no problem bumping up your stretching sessions to the recommend 1:1 ratio.
Fail to stretch at least the same amount that you lift is almost a sure fire way of shortening a teen bodybuilding career or lifestyle. Remember, weight training shortens and tightens the connective tissue you train. Stretching counters the effect and ensures your muscles have room to grow!
8. Focus On Bodyweight Strength First
It amazes me at how many teen bodybuilders can barely do a set of 40 push ups, 20 chin ups and 30 dips. In my opinion, these are some standard upper body fitness tests that should be accomplished with ease before loading is introduced (it might take your 3 or 4 months to achieve this if you can't do them right now). I once heard a famous fitness coach say, "You have no freaking business using a load if you can't stabilize, control, and move efficiently using your own bodyweight." I would have to fully agree.
What's the point of a sloppy 150 pound lat pulldown if you can't do 10 bodyweight pull ups? What's the point of a 185 pound bench press with microscopic range reps, if you can push up your body a couple dozen times? What's the point of a 500 pound leg press if you can do a set of one legged squats down to the floor? Believe me, after a few months of conditioning your body to body weight training, you will be blown away by how quickly your weights climb when you introduce loading.
9. Keep Your Workouts Under 1 Hour
Unless you are in a teen bodybuilding competition for the longest workout possible, it bewilders my mind what you could possibly be doing for longer than a hour! Unless you go to the gym for mirror workouts (that's when you spend more time looking in the mirror than actually lifting)I suggest getting some help with your workout program. If it takes longer than 20-30 minutes of even moderate intensity lifting to fully exhaust a muscle, I have to question your workout intensity. Shorter more intense workouts will always trump longer less intense workouts.
Your goal should be in fact to complete your workout faster and faster. This will force your muscles to condition and adapt to a greater work load. The more work you expose your muscles too, in a shorter amount of time will improve your muscle density. Your bodies ability to tolerate greater workloads.
10. Develop Full Range Of Motion
Initially, teen bodybuilding should involve building strong muscular attachments, tendons, ligaments and bones – text books refer this as anatomical adaptation. Look at building your muscles as the finishing touches on a solid house. You would not want to start framing the house until the foundation has been built. Strengthening your tendons, ligaments and bones would be considered building a strong foundation to build from.
What is the best way to begin a strong foundation for a house to stand on? Build from the bottom up or in our case, from the inside out. This means developing a full range of motion with each weight training exercise to ensure all the muscle fiber gets activated and all the supporting tissues are fully involved.
Think about it. Partial movements will only develop partial muscle. Full movements will develop full muscle. What would get you better results? Squatting 135 pounds with your butt to the floor or squatting 225 pounds for about ¼ of the way? That's correct, involving the entire range of motion with a lighter weight will involve more musculature, improve your mind-muscle connection quicker and strengthen all the supporting tissues more rapidly. Initially, as a teen bodybuilder, you should never sacrifice range for load.