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Q: Should teenagers bulk up in their early years?

7204-nat2Q: I remember your saying that if teenagers take advantage of their earlier years and bulk up and don’t care about the way they look for a certain time, they can make some serious gains. I’m willing to take that step. I’m currently sitting at 6’1”, 210 pounds and 12 percent bodyfat. I just turned 18 a week ago. I consider myself an endo-mesomorph because I can gain weight very easily. Is it a good idea for me to take full advantage of these early years and bulk up to 250 pounds until May 2014? I can then cut down until my birthday, which will be December of that year—maybe 210 pounds at 8 percent. Right now putting on size would be my main priority, but I’d appreciate your input on this.

A: The teenage years are a great time to put on muscular size and get big. Many teens have a fast metabolism and can eat a lot of food without the fear of getting fat. The body has naturally high levels of the growth hormones during the teen years, so it’s an ideal time to add muscle and get bigger.

You mentioned bulking up, but that depends a great deal on your metabolism. You said you gain weight very easily, so you have to be careful of putting on too much fat during your bulk-up period. I was just the opposite when I was a kid. I was skinny, and it was really difficult for me to gain any weight at all because my metabolism was so fast.

My suggestion is to use these productive years to gain quality muscle tissue without gaining too much bodyfat. The key is to eat the right kinds of foods while training very heavy and hard. A lot of the teens I see who get fat while trying to get bigger are eating primarily junk foods and dining at too many fast-food restaurants.

You should always eat like a bodybuilder if you want to look like a bodybuilder. Even though I had a very fast metabolism, I never ate junk food when I was going through my bulking-up phase. I ate all home-cooked meals and focused on quality foods that would add more muscle without making me too fat.

Make sure you eat five or six good meals every day, eating every three hours to keep your body in an anabolic state. Each meal should consist of a complete-protein food source and complex carbohydrates. Focus more on whole food than supplements.

When trying to gain weight, I like eating protein foods that have higher fat contents. Steak, beef, eggs and lean ground turkey contain more calories than fish and chicken. You can also add a high-calorie protein drink containing a good weight-gainer protein like Optimum Nutrition’s Pro Complex Gainer along with some fruit.

The complex-carbohydrate foods will give you energy for your workouts and help replenish your glycogen stores after a training session. I always ate twice as many carbs as protein when trying to gain weight (by zachary berry). Focus on high-fiber carb foods that will be digested slowly, like oatmeal, whole-grain or Ezekiel bread, oat bran, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, beans and corn.

When you start increasing your food intake, make sure you train harder by lifting heavier and pushing your muscles to their limit. Using the basic exercises in good form for six to eight reps is the key to getting bigger. Limit your training to only four days a week to get plenty of rest to recuperate and grow from your heavy training sessions.

Keep an eye on your condition as you gain weight. If you’re putting on too much fat, cut back on the amount of food you’re taking in—you want to get bigger, but you don’t want to get too fat. Eat enough to accommodate your metabolism, but don’t go crazy. Stay motivated and make these years your real growing years, but do it wisely!

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