When boys and girls reach puberty, an increase in hormone production spurs a rapid growth spurt. The growth spurt accounts for about 20 percent of the full adult height in both sexes. Teens will gain approximately 50 percent of their ideal adult weight during puberty, including an increase in lean muscle mass. The skeletal will continue to increase into adulthood for males. Lean muscle mass will decrease for females after puberty, giving way to increased body fat.
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Weight training is the most recommended method to increase muscle mass, lower body fat, improve strength and muscle tone and build bone density, according to Muscle and Strength. Young teenagers start out with moderately heavy weights, increasing the work load as they mature. The primary objective of the initial weight training is to build muscle mass. Simple exercises such as squats, bench presses and dead lifts train and strengthen large muscle groups. More advanced and specific routines are added later. The training regimen includes cardiovascular activities, such as running.
The teenage body needs plenty of water and quality nutrition to build lean muscle mass. Nutrients must be ingested at short intervals to spur growth. Five to six small to medium sized meals, as opposed to the three large meals normally eaten, are recommended to maximize muscle growth, notes the Exercise Goals website. Diet essentials are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The key is that you take in more calories than you burn.
Effects of Supplements
Supplements provide a faster path to increased muscle gain. Products safe for use by teens under 16 include protein supplements. These are most often whey, egg or soy products and may come in powder or diet bar form. A good multivitamin is necessary to maintain energy and good health. For teens 16 to 19 years old, creatine can increase explosive power in the muscles trained, according to Exercise Goals. L-Glutamine, an amino acid, will aid in muscle recovery. Other amino acids and branch chain amino acids are recommended as well. Anabolic flavones help the body absorb proteins, and nitric oxide increases blood flow, delivering more nutrients to the muscles.
Incorrect lifting techniques can lead to injuries. Common injuries are sprains, strains, tendinitis, fractures and dislocations. Over time, improper technique can develop chronic injuries such as nerve damage, rotator cuff damage, muscle overload and bone stress issues. These injuries will, at least, cause a temporary halt of training. Serious injuries could interrupt training for months. Additionally, teens should avoid supplements that affect testosterone or growth hormone, according to Teen Bodybuilding.
The leading misconception concerning teen weight training is that it will stunt growth. There have been no documented studies to prove this. Girls often fear that weight training will make them bulky and masculine, or stiff and muscle bound. Neither is true, notes Teen Bodybuilding. Finally, the built up muscle cannot "turn" to fat. It is impossible, as they are two different types of tissue.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Adolescent Health Curriculum: Puberty - Normal Growth and Development (A1)
- Muscle and Strenth: Training and Exercise for Children and Teenagers - Part 1
- Exercise Goals: Muscle Building for Teens - Teen Weight Training to Build/Gain Muscle Mass
- Exercise Goals: Best Weight Training Diets | Muscle Building Diets & Nutrition plans to Build muscle mass
- Bodybuilding.com: Supplements for Teens
- Bodybuilding.com: Weight Lifting for Children and Teens
- Muscle-building.com: Myths About Weight Training