How and why to build muscle as a teenager when losing weight


Navigating the path to a healthy weight can be a difficult journey for teens and their families. This journey is not only about changing physically. During this journey, it helps to see exercise as a fun way to celebrate what our bodies can do. It helps to know that by living a healthier lifestyle teens can maintain muscle mass.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that teenagers should get one hour of exercise every day to stay healthy. We understand that every day has its own difficulties and successes.

It's okay if some days don't meet our expectations. What matters most is taking small, steady steps forward. Think of it as a dance, one where each step, no matter how small, is a step towards a healthier tomorrow.

Why the emphasis on exercise, you may wonder? When teens embark on a weight loss journey, it's like setting sail on a vast ocean. The aim is not just to reach the shore of weight loss but to do so with our ship—our muscle mass—intact and strong. Muscles are important for our health, helping with metabolism, heart function, and hormone balance in our body.

Imagine two teens, both enjoying a slice of bread. Having more muscle can help control blood sugar levels after eating bread, keeping our bodies in balance. We can create the best hormone balance with our bodies by being active. This helps our muscles use sugars better, making our bodies more sensitive to insulin and keeping our hearts healthy.

How to build muscle as a teenager

I understand there is a desire to be a muscly teenager. Being a muscular 13 year old boy is important to many teens. Now, how can we, as families, help our teens keep healthy hormones with natural ways? Here are some action steps to guide us:

  1. Embrace Movement as a Family: Celebrate physical activity not as a chore but as a cherished family time. Weekend hikes, basketball games, and dancing at home are all opportunities to connect through movement.
  2. Set Incremental Goals: If an hour a day seems daunting, start where you are. Fifteen minutes of dancing today, a twenty-minute walk tomorrow. Anything counts. Small steps lead to significant results.
  3. Start doing easy strength exercises with light weights at home 2-3 days a week to enjoy building muscle in upper body and lower body. Easy ways for muscle building include push-ups, sit-ups, or even yoga, which can build muscle without the need for free weights. This is all about feeling stronger, inside and out.
  4. Seek Guidance Together: Consider consulting a fitness professional or personal trainer to prevent injuries. They can provide advice and support to high school students and young people according to your teen's needs. This can help make the journey less intimidating.
  5. Cook healthy meals that are high in protein together as a family or take a nutrition class together to learn and grow. Understanding the fuel our bodies thrive on is a powerful tool in this journey.


How to gain muscle as a teenager: Research article

A study in 2004 showed that teens can lose weight and be muscular teenagers by exercising and eating well.

This study looked at how a weight loss program affected teenagers who had trouble with their weight. Researchers found significant benefits, alongside some challenges, that families might find enlightening.

The study involved 26 teenagers who had unhealthy weight. They were between the ages of 12 and 16 and had an average BMI of 33.9.

To learn about BMI, you can listen to Episode 1 of the Lifestyle and Weight Loss for Teens Podcast. In this episode, I also teach you how to figure out what is a healthy weight for any child. In simple terms, it is a standard method researchers use to evaluate how much unhealthy weight a child has. BMI does not provide information about teenager muscles.

For nine months, this program educated teens about healthy diet and exercise. They exercised more, focusing on endurance and resistance training.

Researchers meticulously measured their progress using advanced techniques to assess changes in body composition. They measured the % body fat in teens and % body muscle. They checked how many calories their body burned while resting and doing different activities, called the basic metabolic rate.

At the end of the study, the teens lost a significant amount of weight, averaging around 16.9 kg or 37 pounds. Most of the weight lost was fat. However, there was also a reduction in their muscles , which is expected when there is a lot of weight loss involved. However, what the researchers found was that the muscle loss even in girls was less than the expected muscle loss if they had not done any exercise.

Also, the program improved fitness, shown by lower heart rates during sleep, sitting, and exercise. This reduction indicates an enhanced heart function, which is crucial for overall health.

Summary: How to get stronger as a teenager while losing weight

This is not just a quick journey of weight loss but a transformation into a healthier, more vibrant life.

Bodybuilding for 15 year olds does not mean they must be lifting weights and doing bench presses of 150 pounds every day. If a teen wants to be strong, they can also do easier weight training exercises and body weight exercises.

They can include these exercises as part of their exercise routine and make sure they prevent injuries. As families, we need to support and understand our teens as they go through difficult times. Celebrate small wins, listen to each other's problems, and support each other on the path to a healthy and happy future.

Remember, each teen’s journey is unique, and patience, love, and encouragement are the keys to unlocking their potential. If you’re ever in need of advice or wish to share your story, our community is here for you.

If this was helpful, you can sign up for my weekly emails, where I share more info on healthy lifestyle for teens. Feel free to share this with your friends and families. As always let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear back from you!

Together, let’s inspire our teens to embrace a healthy lifestyle with open hearts.

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