Training Teenagers


Now don’t let the title fool you. I have used the following training program with great success in a quite a few different people; beginners getting started, people that have been using typical bodybuilding splits with unsatisfying results for years, older folks getting in shape, and obviously – teenagers. The reason I call it the teenager program is because that is whoI first designed it for, and who I know it works absolutely great for.

Of course I individualize the program depending on the person I’m working with and their goals, but this is the general template I use. The four main points of focus here are introduction, technique, good moving patterns, and progressive strength gains. If you are new to resistance training, or want to try something completely new, this could be a great program for you. The main goals are to get you overall strong and give you that sexy look every teenager is dreaming of.

The introduction

If someone is completely new to resistance training I like to design a beginners’ program that is easy and simple, just to get their musculoskeletal system used to working under resistance, before I let them move on to the main program. I design a simple program consisting of one pushing movement (such as an overhead dumbbell press, or a pushup), one pulling movement (lat pull downs or some rowing variation) and one lower body movement (some kind of leg press).

The important thing is that it’s a workout that is fast, easy and with little place for technical error. I will let them do the same workout 3 times/week for 4 weeks before moving on to the actual program.

The teenager program

The program consists of 3 full body workouts/week. There is a main pulling, pushing and lower body exercise in each workout. Additionally I add something they think is interesting or fun (such as a curling movement) and a core movement in the end. The rep/set schedule will vary depending on the trainee and their goals and technical skills in the movements.

Pulling movement: I usually have them do one chin up movement, one lat pulldown variation and one rowing exercise.

Pressing movement:For example I might use the bench press, overhead press and bar dips.

Lower body movement: I use a squatting movement (such as a goblet squat or a OH squat with a weight plate before progressing to a regular squat), a hip dominant movement (usually rack pulls before progressing to deadlifts) and some kind of unilateral leg movement (usually some kind of lunge).

Core/stability work: I usually have them do one plank variation (anti flexion) one side plank variation (anti lateral flexion movement) and one anti rotational movement (such as the pallof press).

Additional stuff: One of the exercises in the program is for pure psychological reasons. You cannot get a 15 year old to go to the gym regularly if you won’t allow him to do curls (no matter how much you promise him that the chin ups will make his arms grow). Exercises included here might be barbell curls, pushups and calf raises, something to spice it up.


Example of how a teenager client’s program might look

The progressions

First I’ll let the client use pretty light weight (approximately 60% 1RM) and really make sure to hammer the technique in and program good movement patterns. Once I’m happy with the technique, focus shifts to getting them as brutally strong as possible in their three main movements for every workout. This is where this program gets magic as they usually make strength gains faster than ever before.



Try this program yourself or give it to your kids or beginner friends. You’ll be surprised how good it works for getting beach ready and boosting every day functional strength.

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Just sayin’.

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