Muscular Development: What Age to Start Bodybuilding?

Muscular Development

Muscular DevelopmentMuscular development is something teen boys desire in order to spur their confidence and make them more attractive to the opposite sex. However, teen bodybuilding is far different than adult bodybuilding, which is why young males should keep certain things in mind when developing a workout plan.

Tanner Stages

Puberty is measured in phases known as “Tanner stages”.  Stage one is the preadolescent development stage, during which time testosterone levels are basically very low. Stage two represents the onset of puberty, and is when serum testosterone levels first begin to increase. During stage three, boys experience growth spurts, and this is also when testosterone levels are around half that of an adult male. In stage four, the voice begins to change, and testosterone levels are at about 80%. Height growth slows during stage 5, as boys begin developing secondary sexual characteristics, including further muscle growth.

Best Age for Bodybuilding

Each person advances through the various Tanner stages differently. As such, it is not possible to determine an exact age when bodybuilding should begin. Males who are in the prepubescent stage will likely see little if any muscle growth. Moderate muscle development may be possible in stages two and three, but it is not until a boy reaches stage four (typically around the age of 14) that sizeable gains are possible. By the time a male reaches stage 5, (normally between the ages of 15 and 18) he can expect about the same results as an adult male.

Considerations

Even though muscular development may be possible during most stages of puberty, too much weight training could potentially stunt one’s growth. Intense strength training may leave the body without enough energy for growth, in which case height could be stunted. To prevent this from happening, teens should take in approximately 17 to 20 calories per pound each day. It is also important to increase the intensity of a workout by no more than 10% at a time to ensure it is not overly taxing.

Dietary Concerns

In addition to the right caloric intake, teen bodybuilders should consume enough lean protein and carbohydrates each day. They should also avoid counting carbs or engaging in fad diets to help them lose weight. Vitamin B6 helps metabolize amino acids from protein, which is why eating foods such as sunflower seeds, bananas, tuna, and lean pork is important. Vitamin A is needed for healthy sexual development, so males should enjoy foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and cantaloupe as often as possible. Vitamin D is necessary for bone development, and 600 international units are recommended for boys who have not yet reached Tanner Stage 5.

Healthy muscular development during the adolescent years can make going through puberty less awkward. It can also help boys develop an active lifestyle that will help ensure their good health well into their adult years. So long as the right precautions are taken, bodybuilding is something that males can enjoy even during the early stages of puberty.