After puberty, a teen’s body is still growing and developing. While most teens can build muscle with proper strength training, it is important to build an age-appropriate workout program under the guidance of a personal trainer to avoid injury.
You also need to keep in mind that there is no fast way to gain muscle naturally without harming your health. Skip the shortcuts and stick to the basics for the best results.
What are the benefits of weight training for teenagers?
Weight training can improve endurance and bone density as well as encourage the growth of lean body mass and muscle tone. Increasing physical activity early in life is a good way to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Building muscle can also improve metabolism and blood sugar levels. Teens can lose fat and gain healthy lean tissue by engaging in muscle-building exercises, which can help their bodies burn calories even when at rest. Other benefits of weight training for teenagers include:
- Reduced risk of sports injuries
- Improved athletic performance
- Improved self-esteem
How should teens begin weight training?
Teens that have gone through puberty can increase strength and muscle mass. This is because their hormones, particularly testosterone, have kicked in to support increased muscle mass. Females typically begin puberty at the age of 11, whereas boys typically begin puberty at the age of 12. However, puberty begins and develops differently for everyone and ranges between the ages of 8-14.
According to Stanford Children's Health, adult weight training programs may be too intense for teens, causing undue wear and tear on developing joints. Therefore, supervision is necessary when establishing a muscle-building program for a teen. If your child complains of joint pain, it is a sign that the program is too demanding, with either too much weight or too many repetitions. Teens require a program that is tailored to their specific training needs.
If a 15-year-old wants to gain muscle, they should first consult with their doctor. Weight training for their specific health demands and goals can be recommended after a full physical and sports test.
Tips for muscle-building for teens
Teenagers who are just beginning a weight-training regimen should start slowly and make sure they are using proper form and technique.
Push-ups, squats, and pull-ups are effective body-weight exercises to start with. While weightlifting is fine for a 15-year-old, bodybuilding and powerlifting may not be. These are adult-only competitive sports. A gradual increase in intensity will also help teens avoid injury and get greater long-term results:
- Warm up and cooldown for 5-10 minutes
- Complete 8-12 repetitions of each exercise
- Allow for rest days in between working muscle groups
- Only 2-3 workouts each week are recommended
- Always use weights that are appropriate for the teen's size and ability, whether they are free weights, barbells or bands.
Teens should never resort to steroid use, as this can have major health consequences, including liver damage.
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Kennedy SG, Smith JJ, Estabrooks PA, et al. Evaluating the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance of the Resistance Training for Teens program. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2021; 18, 122. https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-021-01195-8
Brown KA, Patel DR, Darmawan D. Participation in sports in relation to adolescent growth and development. Transl Pediatr 2017;6(3):150-159. https://tp.amegroups.com/article/view/14626/15751
Teens Health. Strength Training. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/strength-training.html
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