Sunday, July 8, 2007

Workout and Nutrition for Young Athletes

I've been looking at a lot of questions from young athletes lately on various message boards. That got me thinking about all the mistakes I made as a young lifter. Therefore, I thought I give some simple advice for those just starting to lift weights:

  • Use compound exercises (exercises using multiple body parts, such as bench press, pullups, squats)--these should be the core of your workout. In fact, you could make darn good progress using only those three exercises.
  • If you do try muscle specific exercises (such as bicep curl or tricep extension) make sure you do the big compound exercises first because they work the largest muscle groups and that is where you will add the most muscle mass.
  • Don't workout for more than one hour at a time. This was a huge mistake I made because I wanted to add muscle so badly. When you do workout for over an hour, your testosterone levels start to dip and you are being counter-productive.
  • Eat your protein. Try to get 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. As an ectomorph, I didn't make big gains until I applied this concept.
  • Do your homework and think about the future. Working out will get you plenty of girls for now, but when you're a poor twenty-something year old, nobody will be interested in how much you bench press.

There you have it. Its actually pretty simple. The good news is, as a beginner to weightlifting you are going to make gains way faster than I do these days.


Anonymous said...

I don't have an account yet, but this is AZN_Dave from

I believe you read my thread on my hypertrophy workout on that website and I was wondering what you think about my splits. Tony told me a certain split I should use but I'm wondering if after having lifted for aobut 2 years I would still see any gains from doing only 3 excersizes per session? What do you think?

J said...

His split looked like:

Day 1
Chest Press
Shoulder Press

Day 2
Bent Over Row
Pull Up

I think you would definitely see good gains from his program. If you read my bullet points above, you can make great gains with basic compound exercises. I'd do each workout twice per week and put a day of rest in between (you can run on that day--I'd recommend interval work). Do 8-12 reps to failure for maximum strength and 3-4 sets. As you get stronger, increase the weight so that your 8-12 always gets you to failure. When you go for more power/ explosion, you can change the rep range from 6-8. I think it is a logical path to build strength, then explosiveness as you suggest.

The beauty of the compound exercises is that you are working many different muscle groups at once. For instance, chest press works chest (obviously), shoulders, and triceps. If you feel like you must work arms (for example) throw in a few curls on pull day and a few tricep extensions on push day. But remember, don't spend more than 1 hour in the gym (see bullet above).