Workout Guide for Teen Guys

[One of 50 articles written and published for Demand Media in 2013. Published version here.]

Getting ripped and looking good is a goal desired by many and attained by few. Why do so many fail? In a word, persistence. Despite what ads for supplements might tell you, there’s no way around it — getting fit is hard work. Results can take longer than you expect, demand more daily time than you planned, and require energy and effort you didn’t anticipate.

The first key ingredient for successful workouts is mental. Your teen should realize it will be hard and he’ll have to put exercise above other activities. Be ready to put in the time, patience and dedication to make it happen, especially when your teen is discouraged by the pace of improvement. It’s simple — if your teen doesn’t do the work, he won’t get results. “No pain, no gain” is short and to the point, but temper that phrase with the recognition that serious pain is your teen’s body telling him to back off or see a doctor.

Before your teen begins, have her establish goals. Make them as specific as possible, and don’t just list a major goal — add in milestone goals to fulfill along the way. For example, if your teen’s goal is to run a 5K, milestone goals might be to run around the block once five times, run around the block twice five times, then around the block three times in a row, working up to 5K. Start small and build on it. Hitting milestone goals helps your teen measure her progress and bolster her motivation, so have your teen build plenty of them into her plan.

Get Specific
Once your teen has set goals, have her map out a detailed plan on how to achieve them. There’s no shortage of workout programs available, so find a program that matches her goals, whether it’s building muscle mass, increasing endurance or losing weight. Then determine exactly how much time she’ll dedicate to this program daily. The more specific your teen is with her plan, the better she’ll be prepared mentally when she starts. Instead of planning workouts around other activities, plan other activities around the workout. That’s the level of commitment your teen needs to succeed.

Discipline doesn’t only extend to how your teen burns calories. You’ve got to watch how many and what kind of calories he consumers. This will likely require some changes in how he eats, what he eats and how often he eats — not an easy adjustment. Dietary changes depend on goals. Some foods that are good for building muscle mass might not be the right choice for building lean muscle for endurance. Building muscle and losing fat might not initially show up as weight loss, because muscle is denser than fat. Your teen needs energy to work out, and calibrating the right amount of food and the right kinds of food might take some trial and error. Don’t let your teen be discouraged by errors.