Resistance training is often regarded as ‘’not the thing to do’’ – especially for youngsters. Being 22 years old myself I can relate to this, even my PE teacher in high school would often make remarks about my new found love for the iron room! Ironically, after the all the ‘’bad things’’ which weight training was supposed to do to me I regret precisely NONE of it. Regular visits to the weight room on a weekly basis has allowed me to build a physique I once never thought I could and opened many doors in regards to my career. So for you guys reading this who are at the same place I was just a handful of years ago what is my advice to you?
Lift weight, but be wise. As any young man will tell you (if not today, he will one day) I have made my mistakes and paid the price so learn from mine. With that all said and done, here are my top 3 tips for any teen looking to get into the weight room safely.
You Cannot Build A Strong House Without Foundations
Sure, the title is a little cheesy but it makes a very valid point and one which I want you to take away after reading this. The small details are the ones which count most to begin with and include –
- Building strength in your joints (your attachment points need time to adapt to the weight)
- Increasing the strength of your fixator muscles (these are essential to big lifting later on)
- Developing good habits (proper form, the strength comes after this not before)
- Learning to understand your body (everybody can handle different volumes of exercise)
This means using proper form in the gym, leaving your ego at the door and having the discipline to do this. Trust me, by the time you reach my age you will be reaping the rewards in contrast to those who were desperate to ‘’impress’’ from the off.
Burnout As a teenage you will probably want to do everything now! If there is a way to get bigger or stronger you want to do it now, right? Again, you need to establish a balance where you know you can sustain your training over a long period of time. There is little point training 6 days a week to find the next 3 weeks you cannot train. With that said I will illustrate a very basic blueprint programme for you to get your bearings. First of all, some more rules.
Blueprint & Rules
- You are building a foundation with your time in the gym, don’t go to failure on sets
- Focus on engaging your muscles during the lift, not moving the weight from A to B – there is a distinct difference and the latter is counterproductive on many levels
- Limit your workouts to 40 minutes, 3 times a week max
- Take a day off after every weight session, ideally train Monday, Wednesday, Friday
- Have the discipline and maturity to practise EVERY exercise with the bar and NO weight until your form is perfect before gradually adding resistance
Deadlifts X 3 10-12
Pull Ups X 3 6+
Hyperextensions X 3 10-12
Barbell curls X 3 10-12
Flat dumbbell press X 3 10-12
Decline dumbbell press X 3 10-12
Overhead dumbbell press X 3 10-12
Dumbbell shrugs X 3 10-12
Leg press X 3 10-12
Single legged leg press X 3 10-12
Leg extensions X 3 10-12
Leg curls X 3 6-8
There is the basic plan of action. As a teen I would recommend nailing your form on these exercises first, this is the key to all of your future success in the gym. To leave you with some food for thought I will give you your first insight into a little ‘’science’’ as to why form is so critical to your progress.
- Remaining in control of the weight through the concentric, eccentric and isometric contraction allows you to place the target muscle under greater stress leading to more tension. This leads to better high threshold motor unit recruitment and in turn more muscle fibre stimulation
- The single most common reason as to why people get injured in the gym is poor form. You may feel bullet proof now, but when you experience a torn spinae erector you will quickly change your view on this. Remember, form over ego EVERY time – even when the rest of the boys are playing up to the mirrors
- The ‘’mind to muscle’’ connection is essential to your progress long term. The better the pathway between your brain and muscle (AKA CNS or central nervous system) the more muscle fibres you will be able to recruit during a repetition on any given exercise.
Now your journey begins, this is just the start!