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Bodybuilding in adolescence

Bodybuilding in adolescence


Building muscle before the age of 18

adolescence is the transition from childhood to adulthood. This period begins around age 11 and ends, by law, at age 18.

During this period, a number of changes take place. These changes are physical, physiological and psychological.

It's also the time when other people's gaze becomes important, complexes become more present, seduction becomes more important, and it's often at this time that the attraction to bodybuilding manifests itself.

the desire to identify with a strong, muscular character who commands admiration. The desire to resemble those wrestling or body-building stars encourages teenagers to push open the doors of a weight room for the first time.

Musculation à l'adolescence

Physiological changes

During adolescence, physiological changes are triggered. The sex hormones testosterone and estrogen are released in greater quantities into the body. Driven by testosterone, teenagers' strength and stamina increase. Urges are stronger and aggression is more present.

The body's ability to transport oxygen from the blood to the muscles is increased, enabling it to cope with heavy workloads and recover quickly.

Under the effect of the anabolic hormones produced by the body, protein synthesis and nutrient utilization are optimized.

What's more, these hormones are responsible for tissue and bone matrix growth, and this is where weight training can be harmful if practised inappropriately.

Psychological changes

As I mentioned earlier, adolescence is a time when the way others look at you is very important. As a result, the image we project of ourselves is weakened. This means that, under the gaze of others, the teenager finds himself or herself in a fragile state, prey to positive and negative influences and possible excesses, even when it comes to investing in sport.

Adolescence is often associated with extreme, less reasoned behaviour, which can lead to unreasonable bodybuilding practices.

the desire for immediate results can condition this, as can the feeling of omnipotence. Of course, this doesn't apply to all teenagers, but it does apply to the majority of those who are tempted to try bodybuilding.

For a good workout in adolescence

Weight training in adolescence must be carried out in an appropriate manner. Hormone-induced bone growth during this period means that muscles are attached to both ends of the bone, and overdeveloped or overpowering muscles will prevent the bone to which they are attached from lengthening.

Post-training stretching is often neglected due to a lack of time, motivation and the unpleasant sensations involved.

At this age, the flexibility of teenagers is always at risk due to the hormonal surge, so stretching should be an integral part of a muscle-building program to maintain elasticity.

the use of loads to build muscle, and above all the amount of weight lifted, will also be a factor to be taken into account for appropriate training. It seems only logical that the heavier the weight a muscle uses, the more powerful it will be. The more a muscle is stimulated, the more likely it is to hypertrophy. These two factors will have the effect of limiting the ability of bones to grow, and therefore lengthen.

Muscle-building during this period needs to be closely supervised by qualified and competent personnel. It should focus on muscle toning, and the loads used, if any, should be moderate or even light. This will avoid over-developing the muscle and making it too powerful. The reasonableness of this practice will prevent limiting bone growth, because otherwise, the possibility of stopping the individual's growth is a risk.

What's more, stretching should be carried out systematically at the end of each session, so that muscle tone doesn't get in the way of maintaining or regaining the flexibility that disappears in adolescence if it isn't worked on.

Of course, every individual is different, and we'll always find people who say they did intensive sport or weight training in their youth and grew up normally. However, how tall would they have been if their sport had been practised in moderation or adapted? What about gymnasts, virtually all of whom are relatively small and muscularly powerful?

Even if genetic potential has to be taken into account, losing a few centimetres in height or running the risk of causing bone damage, particularly to the spine, through lack of patience is well worth it.

Wait a while until you're well advanced in your growth, but if you're still practising, be reasonable and listen to the competent people who can protect you. Then it won't be too late to build that muscular, powerful physique.

Advice from a Mr Universe who started weight training at the age of 19)

Author Alexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers