What Can I Do To Build Muscle?

Published: June 17, 2013
Dear What Can I Do To Build Muscle?,

I want to get more muscle. What can I do? (I'm a guy by the way)

Dear What Can I Do To Build Muscle?,

There are definitely special considerations for teens who want to build up muscle. So here is a list of things to do and things not to when trying to gain muscle:

  • Do get a check-up with your doctor, especially if you have heart problems or conditions that affect your muscles or joints, to make sure it is safe for you to start an exercise regimen aimed at building muscle.
  • Do not resort to supplements or steroids, as they can do serious damage to your body.
  • Do not take bits and pieces of exercise ideas put out in magazines or other sources. Instead start out by building a basic core program involving the following exercises: bench press, squats, deadlift, and shoulder press.
  • Do make sure that you get enough calories. Growing teens (males) need up to 3,000 calories daily, particularly if they are physically active. Just make sure you are not getting those calories from junk food. Eat breakfast, get lots of carbs from whole-grain breads, fruits and milk, and make sure meals and snacks are healthy ones.
  • Do feed your muscles within 30 minutes of a workout, eating a mix of carbs and protein. Options might include: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, turkey sandwich, trial mix, or a smoothie made with yogurt and fruit.
  • Do not overdo the protein. Too much protein can harm the body and have serious effects on the kidneys. Aim for 1.6 grams of protein each day for each kilogram you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you will want to eat 109 grams of protein per day.
  • Do know your limits. It’s easy to tear something or injure yourself when you try and do more than body really can or should be doing.
  • Do not try and figure this out on your own. Your doctor and a qualified personal trainer can provide you with invaluable advice on how to eat and workout in a way that is safest for your body.
  • Do allow your body to rest. Weight-lifting breaks down your muscles. When your body rests and repairs them, they get bigger and stronger. So you only want to lift 2-4 days per week and you do not want to work the same muscles 2 days in a row.
  • Do not skimp on sleep. Your body needs rest so that you can have the energy to train better and the awareness not to overdo it or injure yourself.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.