We all start from about the same spot when it comes to lifting weights. True, our bodies are all built differently, and we all have different beginning muscle sizes, body types, body fat levels, and muscle insertions. But when it comes to being introduced to weights, and growing our training environments and knowledge, the evolution is usually the same.
It usually starts in middle school. Perhaps we played a sport, or maybe we didn’t. We begin to see differences in our bodies from our peers as we all enter puberty. It becomes obvious to us that some of us have better physique than others, and that appearance can be a major factor in social success. At this time, many girls begin cutting out certain foods to become skinny, or boys will begin doing crunches. Soon we are often exposed to the iron itself. Maybe an older brother has a weight set we can play along on. Perhaps the school has a weight room available as part of a physical education (PE) class. Whatever the introduction route, it is around ages 12 to 14 to most young men learn about the weight room for the first time.
From there, the paths begin to diverge. Any lifting before age 12 can be counter-productive to bone growth. Once that age threshold is crossed, however, the sky is the limit! Wise young men who are fortunate enough to have good dietary information input will increase their overall lifetime gains by bumping up their meat and milk consumption to allow the bodies to have access to these vital nutrients during these formative years. Growth hormone and testosterone are plentiful in the body at that age, and just about any form of training with the presence of protein will lead to growth.
As we finish high school, many of us will either enter the workforce, or find ourselves in college. If you continue your education, being able to train should be easy. Most schools have decent weight training facilities, and due to the amount of time you’ll be reading and studying, weight training and cardiovascular training works very well with this. If you’re going to be reading for an hour each day, it might as well take place on the treadmill where the increased oxygen flow might actually lead to more information retention. If you opt for full-time employment after high school, you should start training each day before or after work, and develop a lifelong habit.
In terms of equipment, it is imperative that you obtain access to professional quality training equipment if you want to keep making greater gains as time passes. The 90-pound sand weights with the Weider bench was fine when you were 14 years old. Once you turn 18, you need to either train at a professional facility or begin building your own home gym using professional piece of equipment. Craigslist can be a great resource for finding equipment at great prices.
Your training should follow these phases as well. Train methodically and carefully as a youth. In your twenties, you can break your powerlifting records and live for the numbers. Your thirties will see you begin to mold this mass into quality muscle as muscle maturity kicks in. For the forties and beyond, the name of the game is muscle and health maintenance. Continue evolving your equipment and training processes and you’ll have success for a lifetime!