Youve done an excellent job of explaining your situation and telling
us what you want. Im going to give you a little background
information first so you are clear on what can be done and what cant
be done with your body, and then Ill get to the point of your
question what YOU can do to build muscle.
There are three things you should understand before deciding what to
do with your body.
1) Your overall body frame shape is largely genetic. Take a look at
your parents, your grandparents and your siblings. Youll probably
notice you resemble some of them in body shape. If both your parents
are thin and all of your grandparents are thin, then in all
likelihood, you will grow into a relatively thin adult. If, on the
other hand, your father for example has a large barrel chest, or your
grandfather is pear shape (heavy on the bottom, narrower chest) then
you could potentially grow into a shape like that. It hard to tell at
your age which way you might go, but looking at your close relatives
could give you a general sense of where you may naturally be headed.
2) Teenagers normally go through growth spurts where height and
weight dont seem to keep up with each other. Like in your case, most
of them shoot up but hardly gain a pound. This will all tend to equal
out as you approach your early 20s (usually a little later for boys
than for girls) Those Freshmen 15 pounds of weight gain that
college students often complain out, is partially a result of that
equalizing taking place. They stopped growing upward and the weight
they never gained at 16 gets added on.
Also, be aware than guys generally do not start increasing muscle mass
until their growth spurt slows down. Right now all of your food energy
is going towards making you taller. Until that tapers off a bit, you
wont start filling out musculature. You will have to have some
patience and let nature take its course.
3) There is no magic pill!
I say that adamantly because it is THE most important thing to
understand about building a muscular body. The people who are trying
to sell you muscle-building pills are preying on your insecurity about
your body. They are the same people who are selling women
breast-enlargement pills, bald men magic hair growth pills and
overweight people magic weight loss pills. Save your money and stay
away from those.
Ok, so enough of the biology lecture. Lets get to your point.
No matter what body type you have inherited and what growing stage you
are in, you can optimize your fitness and build at least some muscle.
The question is how? What kind of exercises can you do?
The simple answer is, any activity that works your muscles, will help
to build and define them. (And pushing a mouse and lifting a Big Mac
doesnt count!) For your upper body, this would include weight
lifting, pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, swimming, and racquet sports.
Now, I know its hard to promise yourself to exercise --especially, if
youre like me and spend half your life in front of a computer.
Setting aside 30 or 40 minutes a day somehow is not as easy as it
sounds. The trick is to make your exercise goals realistic,
convenient, and easy to get to. It really doesnt help to promise
yourself that youll swim 20 laps a week if just dragging yourself
away from the computer is a chore.
The basic rule for making progress is that you want to accumulate
about 30 minutes of workout three times a week in increments of no
less than around 10 minutes. Or, in the case of repetitions, 1-2
repetitions past your last best amount. In other words, if you can do
5 pushups now, then next time go for 6.
Since you admit that you prefer the computer keyboard to the racquet
club, I would suggest you pick up a set of hand-held weights
(dumbbells) and put them near your desk. Also, you could purchase one
of those chin-up bars that spring-mounts in a doorway and put that in
either your kitchen door (between you and the food) or your computer
room door (between you and the world).
Of course, pushups and sit ups dont require any equipment and are
Make it a game that works with YOUR lifestyle. Waiting for a slow
flash intro to load? Rather than click skip intro instead see how
many curls you can do before it loads. Bored by tv commercials? How
many pushups can you do in that 2 minute space? Got a craving for a
slice of cold pizza? Make yourself do 3 chin-ups on your way to
kitchen. Talking on the phone with your girlfriend? Grab those weights
and do some reps.
Do you like working with numbers? Build an excel spreadsheet and graph
your progress not in terms of your body shape but in terms of
numbers of reps or each exercise within a certain time frame. For some
people, just being able to see the progress is encouraging enough to
keep them going.
The secret is that there is no ONE way to do this right. The only
right way is the way that works for you. If you have to change your
entire lifestyle to meet your goals, you won't stick with it.
This site here has some good advice for realistic exercise goals
Realistic Fitness Tips & Ideas for the non-exerciser in the family
The other key is to do the exercises correctly and safely. Remember,
more is not necessarily better. The old adage "No Pain - No Gain" is
bad advice. Exercise is not supposed to hurt. When it does you may
have caused damage.
One way to get good information is to ask your gym teacher at school
to show you how to do the exercises safely. Or, make one trip down to
the local fitness center and ask someone there for advice. If you buy
dumbbells at an athletic equipment store, have the staff there show
you how to use them safely.
The other option is to rent a video that talks you through the
exercises. But stick with the ones that stress safety, not instant
There is plenty of online advice, but its not all good. Make sure
what you are reading is safety oriented and not trying to push for
instant muscles or that perfect bodybuilding physique, which frankly
would be impossible at your age.
For example, here are a few websites you might find useful
Dumbell Exercises... Simple, Safe And Effective
Even though this website is trying to sell you dumbbells, I think
their overall advice is sound.
DUMBELL TOTAL BODY WORKOUT
Basic medical information on exercise
MEDLINE - Physical activity
STRENGTH TRAINING FOR TEENS
EXERCISE MAKES MUSCLES
HOW TO ASSESS YOUR BODY WEIGHT
I found this website to be quite useful. It is a Q & A Nutrition site
written by Joanne Larsen, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with
extensive clinical experience in nutrition counseling.
She serves up some good solid advice for people trying to lose or gain
weight, for athletes, for students, and for anyone else who has
nutrition concerns. For example (scroll down the page to find this)
If your concern to gain weight is related to your desire to increase
muscle size, muscles increase with increased exercise, not diet. Diet
alone could cause weight gain, but the increase would be mostly
bodyfat without the exercise component. Keep exercising (about 30
minutes per day three to five times per week) on a regular basis and
your muscle size should increase. Weight lifting is effective to
increase muscle size.
ASK A DIETITIAN - UNDERWEIGHT
Basically, by exercising your abdomen and reducing the overlying body
fat you will show more muscle definition. However, you do need a
certain amount of fat to make testosterone. Since you are 16, you
will continue to grow until 23, but should reach 90% of your adult
height at age 18. So don't drastically alter your diet which may
interfere with your normal growth.
ASK A DIETITIAN EXERCISE
So, I hope I havent drowned you in information here! To sum up, my
main points are that ---
1) your physique at your age is normal and will probably change on its
own over the next 4 years.
2) The best way to build muscle in the meantime is to use those
muscles regularly, which means to devise a workout program that works
with your current lifestyle.
If anything Ive said is confusing, please feel free to ask me for a
clarification and Ill try to explain it better.
Thanks so much for your question, and good luck with your training
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