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While those newbie gains are easy to come by, serious muscle is hard to build. It requires mental strength and dedication, both in the weight room and in the kitchen. If you’re a teenager, you’re probably spending the majority of your days in class, studying, or playing sports. It doesn’t leave much time to sit down and shovel food into your mouth. Tony Gentilcore, co-owner of Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA, has a few tips on how you can make the most of your limited time.
A lot of teenagers have lean physiques, but eat like crap. “Just because you have a six-pack doesn’t mean you’re healthy,” Gentilcore says. Start every day off right. “It takes two minutes to make a bowl of oatmeal, it takes five minutes to make some scrambled eggs.” That means it’s just as easy to eat healthy as it is to toss a couple Pop-Tarts in the toaster.
Here’s the truth: You’re not going to be able to eat what you want all the time. You need to get the best foods you can, when you can. “Pack nuts, beef jerky, or a bagel with peanut butter—something you can stash in your locker,” Gentilcore says. “Depending on school policy, maybe you eat in class. Anything quick you can get between classes is going to be advantageous.”
If you’re new to the iron game, all the supplement options can be overwhelming. To keep it simple, Gentilcore suggests these three: protein powder, a vitamin D supplement, and a fish oil supplement. “A protein shake is an easy way to get some calories and protein in your body,” he says. “Fish oil has a plethora of benefits, from reducing inflammation to controlling heart disease and insulin levels.” And vitamin D will help with muscle growth and proper hormone levels.
Gentilcore designed this program to address the needs of a teenage lifter. Follow this routine, eat big (and right), and watch the muscle pile on.
A1. Deadlift Variation (Trap [hex] Bar, Sumo, or Conventional)
A2. Flat Bench Dumbbell Press
B1. Seated Cable Row
B2. Dumbbell Goblet Reverse Lunge
C1. Pallof Press
C2. Face Pull
D. Arm Work** (e.g., biceps curls, triceps pressdowns)
**Choose one biceps exercise (10 reps) and one triceps exercise (10 reps) and perform them back to back with as little rest as possible for 5–10 minutes.
A1. Bench Press Variation (Flat Bench, Incline Bench, or Decline Bench)
A2. One-arm Dumbbell Row
B1. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
B2. Ab Rollout
C2. Half-kneeling Cable Lift
D. Calf Work*
A1. Squat Variation (Back Squat, Front Squat, or Box Squat)
4×5 (weighted if necessary)
B1. Push-up Variation (Band-resisted, Feet Elevated, or Chains)
B2. Chest-supported Row
C1. Dumbbell Lateral Lunge
C2. Reverse Crunch
D. Shoulder Work*
*Alternate sets of paired exercises (e.g., A1 and A2)