The Question:

Whether they are training for football, track, or just to be healthy - a good training routine with a sound diet is more important than many realize. In addition modern technology affects teenagers more than anyone else. Television, video games and numerous fast food chains make it hard for teenagers to stay in healthy shape.

What is the best workout for a young beginner teen trying to stay in healthy shape? A sport (Ex. Football, track, baseball)? Be specific.

What differences in training would you see between these two age groups: 13-14 and 18-19? *Both groups are absolute beginners.

At what age is it safe to start working out?

Bonus Question: How important is nutrition for teens who are trying to be healthy? Training for sports? Please explain.

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  3. haiz69 View Profile

New Prizes: 1st place - $75 in store credit. 2nd place - $50 in store credit.

1st Place - Xtrainer

View This Author's BodySpace Here.

In our increasingly fast paced, instant gratification, "I Want It Now!" world, some people (especially teenagers) can fall victim to the comforts and pleasures taking the easy way, sitting on couch, playing video games, and binge eating on whatever is at hand.

But with the overweight adult rate at almost 60% ("Percent of Adults... "), teenagers cannot afford to establish habits that will come back to haunt them as they age. The perfect time for them to begin a fitness program geared toward optimum health is now.

A Word On Sports

Sports can be a great source of physical exercise. Soccer, for example, provides cardiovascular exercise. However, the fitness benefits gained from sports are often very narrow.

A soccer player may have great cardiovascular endurance, but he probably will have very little muscular power, especially in the upper body. Also, the physical benefits of a sport can depend entirely on characteristics of the sport itself.

For example, the soccer player who is constantly benched by his coach will not even benefit from cardiovascular exercise. For these reasons, I believe sports are a great addition to any exercise program, but not a complete program in and of themselves.

The Program

This is an excellent program for a teen interested in getting into better shape, especially for a sport. Before beginning this program, I would recommend a couple weeks of learning the movements and developing your coordination to prevent injury, and don't forget to check with your doctor before doing anything!

Seek out some qualified instruction (whether a personal trainer or just an old "gym rat") in the basic exercises. Then you can get into the "real deal." This program is geared toward developing power, so it is especially useful to those teens who might be wrestlers, football players, or martial artists. It also includes some cardio.

This program was influenced by Bill Starr's 5x5's, James Strom (co-author of Superfit) and some of my own ideas. It has a few key points:

  • Mostly Compound Exercises: Compound exercises (such as squats and deadlifts) are the best way to increase functional strength. 
  • HIIT Cardio: High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to stave off excessive fat gains as you put on muscle. Plus, it is necessary for most athletes to keep their cardiovascular endurance up, even while trying to put on mass. 
  • Mostly Standing, Free-Weight Exercises: unlike machines, free-weight exercises force the lifter to balance and control the weight, just like in real life.
  • Rest: This program provides plenty of time for rest, which is essential, especially for the beginning lifter and growing teens.

Day 1: "Leg Day"

  • 5x5 Barbell Squat

  • 3x20 Dumbbell Lunges (10 on each leg) Core Training

  • 3x15 Exercise Ball Crunch (add weight as needed)

  • 2x10 (Each side) Side Bends

  • 2x10 (Each side) Seated Barbell Twist (or similar)

Core Training Note: I leave the rest of the core training ideas up to the individual. I do this for a very simple reason. Many people complain of back pain while performing certain core exercises. It is up to the individual to find those exercises that feel safe specifically to him or her.

The principle I suggest is one "crunch" type movement, one "lateral" movement, and one "rotational" movement. You can see examples (in that respective order) in the "Core Training" section above.

  • 15:00 HIIT (Preferably split between 10:00 running, 5:00 something else)

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Day 1.

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: "Push Day"

  • 5x5 Barbell Bench Press

  • 4x8 Shoulder Press (Perform standing)

  • 3x8 Seated Triceps Press Core Training

  • 10:00 HIIT

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Day 3.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: "Pull Day"

  • 5x5 Deadlifts
  • 5x5 Pull-ups (w/added weight)
  • 3x8 Barbell Rows
  • 3x5 Hang Cleans
  • Optional: Curls and grip/forearm training of any sort. Core Training
  • 10:00 HIIT

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Thursday.

Friday: Sport-Specific

  • Today, do whatever exercise pertains to your sport directly. For me (a martial artist), that might mean a heavy bag kickboxing workout or takedown drills using the heavy bag.

Saturday: "Active Rest"

  • Easy swim

Differences Between Age Groups

This all depends on the level of development of the individual. Some people stop growing at age 15. Others continue to grow into their 20s. As a general rule (and safety precaution), I believe younger teens should lift more lightly, perhaps with fewer repetitions as well.

The Best Advice:

Listen to what your body AND your doctor tells you. If you do not feel ready to lift as "hardcore" as the program above specifies, by all means DO NOT! It may be beneficial for young teens (who have never really exercised before) to perform higher-repetition, full-body exercise routines twice a week or so. In this way, they can learn proper lifting technique and prepare their bodies for a more advanced program.

When Is It Safe To Work Out?

Again, this depends almost entirely on the individual. Some people are ready much earlier than others. Lifting also takes a certain degree of mental maturity, which some teens may not achieve until they are 18 or 19! On the other hand, some teens have a degree of both physical and mental maturity at the age of 13.

First, one should get the "OK" from his or her doctor. Once a teen has doctoral permission, he or she should find SOME type of qualified guidance, whether from a personal trainer or an experienced lifter in the family.

Then, the teen can ease into a regimen, always listening to his or her body. This will ensure the safety (and effectiveness) of the teen's workouts.

Bonus: What About Nutrition?

Teens ABSOLUTELY need to be concerned about their nutrition. Their bodies are developing, and the nutritional decisions they make will form the foundation of their health for the rest of their lives. I suggest all teens follow John Berardi's Seven Habits, paraphrased here:

  1. Eat every 2-3 hours, totaling 5-8 meals per day.
  2. Each meal should include complete protein.
  3. Eat fruits or vegetables with every meal.
  4. The bulk of your carbohydrate intake should come from fruits and vegetables, except for pre/post workout.
  5. 25-35% of your caloric intake should come from fats (a mixture of saturates, polyunsaturates, and monounsaturates).
  6. Don't drink your calories.
  7. Eat mostly whole foods.

In addition, I would add:

  1. "Bill Starr 5x5." Starting Strength. 15 Aug 2006. 26 Nov 2006 [ online ]
  2. Berardi, John . "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs ." 2002-2003. 26 Nov 2006 
  3. Berardi, John. "The Importance of Post Workout Nutrition." 26 Nov 2006 
  4. "Percent of Adults Who are Overweight or Obese, 2005." 2005. Kaiser. 26 Nov 2006
  5. Gracie, Royce, and James Strom. Superfit . Montpelier, VT: Invisible Cities Press, 2004.

2nd Place - ManInTheBox

View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Whether they are training for football, track, or just to be healthy - a good training routine with a sound diet is more important than many realize. In addition modern technology affects teenagers more than anyone else. Television, video games and numerous fast food chains make it hard for teenagers to stay in healthy shape.


What Is The Best Workout For A Young Beginner Teen Trying To Stay In Healthy Shape? A Pport (Ex. Football, Track, Baseball)? Be Specific.

Being at the age of 17, after training for two years I have experimented with many different routines and programs. Firstly, it is important to realize a few key aspects when it comes to teenagers.


Teenagers Are In The Best Condition Of Their Life, With An Optimum Balance Of Hormones

Teenagers do not need to take any special testosterone enhancing supplements to put on strength and muscle. Between the ages of 14 to 23, the testosterone found in teenage males is at an all time high. This age range also makes for a crucial time for teenagers to get involved in sports and take advantage of their bodies and physical condition!


Teenagers Are Young, And Should Be Involved In Sports To Have Fun!

Too many kids these days are pushed into activities that they do not want to be involved in. You cannot make someone exercise unless they enjoy doing so. Pushing a 6 foot, 215 pound guy into doing soccer is not going to be what he might want to do. This teenager may really want to play football. Enjoying what you do is key to progress!


More Is Not Always Better For Teenagers!

Too often do we see teenagers in the gym for hours on end pounding on massive sets and low weight! This sort of training routine is not going to spell out progress! We will elaborate more on what your workouts should look like.

Teenager's Workout

What Should A Teenager's Workout Look Like?

No matter what sport you do, whether it be track and field, soccer, baseball, football, you name it, they all require coordination, endurance, speed, and strength. If a teenager is trying to get stronger and put on lean mass, he or she needs to focus on compound exercises, with only a few accessory exercises for definition. The workout should be performed three days a week, with each workout staying under an hour's time. A great beginners workout may look something like this:

Mondays: Chest/Triceps:

  • Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 8, 5, 3, 1 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Extensions: 3 sets of 10 reps

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Monday.

This workout will work the chest and triceps very well. When doing chest, you are incorporating triceps a lot, therefore we actually will do three exercises for chest and two for triceps, to avoid triceps overtraining. Mass and strength will come out of the barbell bench press reps and sets, and the preceding exercises will tie in to further strengthen and build the muscles.

Today illustrates a day dedicated to pushing movements. Any sport that requires pushing, such as shot-put, discus, football, or baseball can benefit greatly from this workout day.

Wednesdays: Legs/Shoulders:

  • Barbell Squat: 4 sets of 10, 8, 5, 3, 1 reps
  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Hamstring Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Military Barbell Press: 3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Front Plate or Dumbbell Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Wednesday.

This workout will it the quads, hamstrings, and shoulders very hard. We concentrate on mass and strength with our barbell squat and throw in a great mass builder for shoulders by executing the military press. It is important to perform these exercises correctly and start at a light to moderate weight before going heavy.

Form is more important than weight! Today also concentrates on many pushing and driving movements. The explosive ascent on squatting, and the pushing on military presses benefits an athlete greatly.

Fridays: Back/Biceps:

  • Barbell Deadlift: 4 sets of 8, 5, 3, 1 reps
  • Front Pulldowns: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Rows: 3 sets of 10, 8, 8 reps
  • Standing Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Preacher Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Friday.

Once again, a great mass and strength workout. Beginning with the massive deadlift, and accessorized with rows and curls. This workout will focus on overall body development and emphasize massive arm development! Today focused mainly on the pulling movements, which greatly help with squatting and other driving exercises.


Before each of these workouts, you should be well stretched and always have someone in mind to watch and spot you, especially on bench press and squatting! Doing these exercises without a spotter may very dangerous. Though these exercises are extremely beneficial to the lifter and athlete, they must be performed properly. It is important for your first set to always be light and done with 100% proper form.

Doing exercises without proper form will get you nowhere. If you are looking for even greater endurance, you may want to take your off days Tuesdays and Thursdays and incorporate a half hour of cardio, followed by another 15 to 30 minutes of abdominal work.

Age Groups

What Differences In Training Would You See Between These Two Age Groups: 13-14 & 18-19? *Both Groups Are Absolute Beginners.

Starting at 13 to 14 is very young to begin any hard resistance training. Light dumbbell work and resistance band training may be very good, accompanied by jogging and other coordination training. It is important not to put a young person through too much heavy training yet with barbell and big compound exercises because they are still in a young developmental stage.

Doing heavy compound lifts release massive amounts of hormones. Lifting regimens for young teens should be kept short, and three times a week maximum.

An 18 to 19 year old is much easier to get into a lifting program. By this time, their motor skills have fully developed and are easier to communicate with as well. Still as a beginner, lifting programs should be kept relatively short for the first months of training. 45 minutes is a great workout length.

Throwing someone into a hard lifting program may be very detrimental on an individual. Slowly easing someone into a program holds great promises though. Also by this time, an individual's hormones are much more well balanced than that of a younger teenager. Eventually working up to an hour workout will do more good than harm with an older teenager than a younger one.

Safe To Start

At What Age Is It Safe To Start Working Out?

A very good for beginning a solid lifting program would be between 14 and 15 years old. You have to take a few things into consideration before hand though.

Mental and physical maturity is very important. The teenager must be ready to face the challenge and not be afraid of weight! It is also important to look at the structure of the teenager. Underdevelopment definitely hinders the beginning of a workout program.

Bonus Question

How Important Is Nutrition For Teens Who Are Trying To Be Healthy? Training For Sports? Please Explain

For any athlete or fitness enthusiast, nutrition is extremely important for maintaining a healthy body and putting on lean mass. Ample protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats are essential when someone is trying to increase their athletic performance. A few rules to follow are:

1. Eating At Least 4 To 6 Small Meals A Day

Each meal should consist of high protein, moderate carbohydrates, and low in fat.

2. Sleeping At Least 8 Hours

Studies even show that teenagers need 9 hours of sleep for optimum growth and mental performance. Going to school tired and dosing off in class will not help you in the long run. Rest is also crucial for building muscle and repairing your body.

3. Active Rest

That's right, doing unnecessary exercise is not going to help you with your overall performance. Working out for an hour and then playing basketball for another two hours is only going to hinder the recuperation and repair of your body. Rest is important!

4. Simple Supplementation

This is exactly what it sounds like. Taking your daily vitamin is a must, and taking a protein powder would be a great addition as well. Teenagers should not be worried about increasing testosterone or anything else, just getting it lots of food should be number one!

3rd Place - haiz69

View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Simply put Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength Routine is the best workout program for a young teen trying to stay in shape. It only requires three days in the gym, with less than or about an hour in the gym each of those days. Especially with the busy lives of teens these days, a workout program that is efficient and productive is the best bet.

The Program

Workout A:

  • 3x5 Squat
  • 3x5 Bench Press
  • 1x5 Deadlifts
  • 2x8 Dips

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Workout A.

Workout B:

  • 3x5 Squat
  • 3x5 Standing military press
  • 3x5 Bent Rows (or power cleans)
  • 2x8 Chin-ups (Recommend if doing cleans)

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Workout B.

Assistance Work:

With this program, assistance work is NOT NECESSARY. Run it how it is set up! If you must, only add in 2 sets for curl and 2 sets for triceps on the last workout for each week. I would suggest doing weighted sit-ups at least twice a week however.


To Run the program, simply alternate between the workouts, so that you are working out three times a week. For example:

Week 1:

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Wednesday -Workout B
  • Friday - Workout A

Week 2:

  • Monday - Workout B
  • Wednesday - Workout A
  • Friday - Workout B


Regarding the weight and sets, make sure to use the SAME weight for each set. For example, if you do the first set of five at 150 pounds, you also do the last two sets at 150 pounds.

The goal is to increase the weight lifted each week. If you stall on a certain lift, lower the weight for a few weeks and work back up to your previous max. Whenever you can add weight to the bar, do it! Never compromise form for weight however.


Because you will be lifting heavy weight for low reps, a proper warm-up is very important. An example of a good warm-up would be:

  • 2x5xbar (sets x reps x weight)
  • 1x5x85
  • 1x3x125
  • 1x2x155

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Warm-Up.

Then you work sets would be at 170. This is just an example. Be sure that you are always ready to lift the heavy weight. I guarantee that if you run this program, you will grow. Plain and simple!

Age Groups

What Differences In Training Would You See Between These Two Age Groups: 13-14 & 18-19? *Both Groups Are Absolute Beginners.

I would not change a thing between these two age groups. The only fact that matters is that both groups are absolute beginners. This program helps to reinforce proper technique and really hits the big compound lifts. Both groups would benefit greatly from using this program.

Safe To Start

At What Age Is It Safe To Start Working Out?

I feel that 12-13 is a good age to start working out. It is not necessary, but I feel that if someone wants to begin working out at that age, that there is nothing wrong with it. When starting that early however, it is even more important to use good form, as to avert possible injuries that could stick with teens for the rest of their lives.

Bonus Question

How Important Is Nutrition For Teens Who Are Trying to Be Healthy? Training For Sports? Please Explain

For teens who are trying to stay healthy and are training for sports, nutrition doesn't have to be strictly regimented, but by following a few guidelines, teens can live a very health lifestyle:

  • Avoid Trans fat
  • Limit Refined Sugars
  • Avoid Alcohol
  • Eat Fruits and Vegetables
  • Eat/Drink Dairy Products
  • Get Enough Protein
  • Eat Healthy Fat
  • Choose Complex Carbohydrates over Simple Carbohydrates

A health diet is an important part of living a healthy life and for teens, it should not be too difficult. Getting a decent amount of protein, eating healthy fat, and choosing the right carbohydrates can make a major difference in attitude, emotion, and performance in school/sports. If you are dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, working out and having a healthy diet... Go for it!

About the Author

Workout Of The Week

Workout of the Week is where forum members are asked to answer questions about what they think the best workouts are.

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