Body Building Resources

Eight Things Teen Body Builders Need to Know
By Jean Lam

What teen doesn't want to look good and impress the opposite sex? Body building is a sport that appeals to teens for many reasons, including looking good, impressing others, and winning recognition in competitions. With so many teens growing up sedentary and forming bad eating habits along the way, body building is a great way for them to learn to lead a healthy lifestyle.

But body building is not without its pitfalls, particularly for teens. Here are ten things every teenage body builder should keep in mind.

Stay away from steroids. The word "steroids" in athletics usually refers to anabolic steroids, which mimic the hormones that the male body produces naturally. Athletes take steroids because they help the body build muscle mass more quickly. They can be taken in the form of injections, powders, and pills, and they're illegal for high school and professional athletes alike.

Steroids can increase muscle mass, but they also have some scary side effects. The physical effects include premature balding, dizziness, insomnia, pain when urinating, and heightened risk of heart and liver disease. They can also have some undesirable sex-based side effects; boys who overuse steroids can develop breasts and experience penis and testicle shrinkage, while girls can develop deep voices, increased growth of facial hair, and breast shrinkage. In addition, mental side effects such as hallucinations, paranoia, and violent mood swings can occur.

Teenagers are already producing massive amounts of hormones as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Because of this, steroids tend to do more lasting damage to teenage bodies.

Be vigilant about your eating habits. No body builder can succeed without the right eating habits, and body building diets require consistency and discipline. Eating six meals a day and maintaining the right balance of complex carbs, vegetables, fats, and protein is challenging for any adult.

It can be twice as difficult for teens, however. In school, teenagers may not get as many opportunities to eat as they need to-and they may not have access to the right foods in the high school cafeteria. In addition, most teens are surrounded by peers who love junk food. Teenagers must be especially careful about eating right, and particularly creative about finding time during the school day to work extra meals in.

Don't work through injuries. Anyone who works through an injury is at risk for making the injury worse-and possibly doing lasting harm. Adults and teenagers both need to be aware of this. But younger body builders are more prone to believing they're invincible. Even if an injury doesn't feel debilitating, teens must be careful not to work out-especially if they're hitting heavy weights-if they're not feeling their best.

Avoid supplements that include hormones. Even if teens avoid anabolic steroids, there are plenty of legal nutritional supplements that have the effect of boosting hormone levels. Teenagers produce plenty of testosterone on their own, and these supplements can have damaging side effects. Teens should avoid using Viraloid, Tribulus Terrestris, Creatine, Avena Sativa, Red-Kat, and any other supplement that either contains or claims to boost hormone levels. Steroid-free protein supplements and multivitamins, however, are generally safe for teens to take.

Consistency is key. A successful body builder must be deliberate about what and when he eats, as well as exercising regularly three or four times a week. Between school, extracurricular activities and after-school jobs, a teen's lifestyle can make it tough to maintain a consistent routine. Those who can regularly carve out the time they need are the ones who will succeed.

Have patience. It's easy to get discouraged with body building, especially if you've never set and worked toward a fitness goal before-and many teens haven't. Body building is an endurance sport, not a sprint. Success takes patience and a willingness to make long-term lifestyle changes.

Set realistic goals. Body building can make people feel better, look better, and appeal to the opposite sex. But it's important to keep your goals realistic. Many teens get into the sport thinking they can see results in time for a big event like the prom, graduation, or the start of fall semester; or that they can gain twenty pounds of muscle mass in a few months. These goals set people up for failure.

Instead, teens need to learn how to set realistic goals and track their success over a period of time. Once they learn what's achievable and what's not, they'll see they're making progress towards a larger goal when they reach small, achievable milestones-and they'll feel inspired to keep working at it.

Find a mentor. You can read all the online and offline resources ever published about body building, but it's no replacement for time with a real mentor. Teens who can talk to a family member, coach, or trainer with experience in body building are much more likely to stick with it. The support and knowledge of an experienced mentor is invaluable for helping teens develop and stick to a routine, and maintain a positive outlook during difficult periods.

Some experts believe that the best time to get started body building is in your teens; that's when your body is producing its maximum amount of testosterone. There's no question that body building is a great sport for teenagers-it teaches determination, patience, and diligence. If they can avoid the pitfalls and stick with it, teens will learn skills and habits through body building that will serve them well throughout life.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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