Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Journal of Strength: Teenage Muscle-Building



     As of late, I have—for multitudinous reasons—found it hard to write very much.  (Please forgive me, in fact, if I have yet to respond to anyone’s email questions—I will as soon as possible.)  Not that writing itself, per se, is hard.  Once I sit down to my computer, open up Word, or once I sit down on my couch, notebook in hand, I find writing to be—while not the easiest thing—not much of a chore.  No, I have been busy with so many other things that, unfortunately, I just haven’t found the time to write much on my blog.  And when I have found the time, I have attempted to work on some articles, or some other stuff that actually makes me money writing—or, at least, has the potential to make money.
     Despite my inability to write as much as I need to, I would really like to write on this blog more, despite the fact that I don’t know if I always have something very important to write about.  (Most of my writing here, in fact, is very much the same stuff said different ways, but, I suppose, that’s how it is with most muscle magazines, power training articles, and the like.)
     Until now, I had not found a solution out of my dilemma—my dilemma being how in the world do I post multiple writings each week, as opposed to a few times a month, or maybe just once every month or two?
     The solution is what you are currently reading: a “journal” of sorts, where I will write my various thoughts for the day involving workout principles, diet strategies, or—when the mood strikes me—musings of a more philosophical bent.
     My goal is write a couple “journals” each week, along with my usual stuff.  I hope you will find the result at least somewhat interesting.
Journal of Strength
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
     On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my sons walk over to my house from their high school, and we (of course) lift.  (They stay with me on the weekends, and we train every Saturday, and Sunday, as well.)
     My youngest, Garrett, who is 14, wants to compete in a powerlifting meet soon.  He’s small—only weighs 105 lbs—but he bench presses 165 lbs.  Not shabby.  He alternates between days when he squats, days when he deadlifts, and days when he just bench presses.  His goal is to be as strong as possible for his bodyweight, and so far the workouts are paying off.
     Typically, when training someone Garrett’s age, I wouldn’t allow him or her to train with such a “split” routine unless the sole goal is strength, so this kind of workout is fine for Garrett.  It would also be fine for any teenagers who need strength—but not necessarily more muscle mass—in their chosen sport.  An example would be a teenager who wrestles or competes in martial arts.
     My oldest son, Matthew, 15, simply wants to be as big as humanly possible for a teenager his age.  I would, in fact, say that he’s a bit obsessed with it.  Here’s his current program:
Saturday: Upper body “density” day
Sunday: Lower body “density” day
Tuesday: Full body “high rep” day
Thursday: Full body “maximal strength” day
     The two density days are performed with multiple exercises, using multiple sets of low to moderate reps.  The goal is to get as many reps as possible in a relatively short period of time with relatively heavy—or at least moderate—weights.  Typically, for instance, Matthew begins Saturday’s workouts with chins, performing multiple sets of 3 reps with very little rest between sets.  He usually gets 20 to 30 reps done in ten to fifteen minutes.  He then follows—hypothetically; the exercises change—with something such as bench presses, overhead presses, power cleans, power snatches, and curls.
     Sundays it’s more of the same for the lower body.
     Tuesday is a full-body workout using such things as squats, benches, overheads, lunges, curls, farmer’s walks, and sled drags.  The sets are about 3 to 4 per exercise with relatively high reps in the 15 to 25 rep range.
     “Maximal strength” Thursday means that he will pick two—maybe three— exercises and work up to a heavy set of 5 reps (typically).  Bench presses and deadlifts are good choices, as are overhead presses and squats.

     This program, by the way, is a sound way for any teenager to train—so long as he or she has cut their teeth on full-body workouts.  Matthew, for instance, put in his share of full-body workouts centered on nothing but squats, bench presses, and (either) deadlits or heavy overhead presses for a long time before he switched over to this workout.  (And, I must admit, I let him perform an even more “bodybuilding-friendly” program before this one.)
     The program is, for the most part, still centered on full-body workouts—a “must” for teenage lifters—but, because the weekends are “split” workouts, it also allows the teenage lifter to do stuff that I might not always be that fond of—such as lots and lots of dumbbell curls—but that most teenage boys seem to love.

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