T Nation

Competing as a Teenager?


hey everyone!

i wanted to here your opinions on competing as a teenager (below 20 years old). i am only 15+ years old and have hopes of competing in the future, definitely not now.. However, i was wondering if it would be a good idea to diet down to contest lean conditions while still in the teenage years? or would it be a smatter decision to wait it out until past 20 years old and make use of the teenage years to try to put on as much size as possible?



There's no reason for a healthy, reasonably athletic 18 or 19 year old to be at bodyfat levels where it would take greater than 12 to 16 weeks to get lean enough to compete. If someone was looking at a 24 week prep, I'd say it might not be the best idea. I would also think it might be wise to not "grind" quite as hard at the end of a prep, probably not necessary to get to quite the extreme levels of leanness as a teen; hormonal damage could become an issue at such a young age. Hopefully some of the more experienced guys on here can comment!


I know as a teen ( 16ish-18) I maintained around 6-8% bf and it sucked getting down there but It was alot easier to keep conditioned at that age than now, I would wait until at least 17-18 to compete that way you can build as much muscle as possible BUT thats just my opinion.

I couldn't gain weight when I first started getting into bodybuilding, I had to stay in my weight class for wrestling.


I see. that cleared up some of my worries. I have seen people talking about the hormonal damage and that was one of the main issues. Thanks


Okay got it. So it would be advisable to wait it out until later before thinking about dieting for a competition. Gaining weight and losing weight isn't much of a hassle for me and both can be done quite easily. Thanks


I think the hormonal issue is a good one to take into consideration. You'll read some prep logs, and hear about guys (or girls) seriously grinding it out, and just fighting their body tooth and nail to get that last bit of shed visible on game day. I'm certainly no doctor, but I can't imagine that it's a healthy situation, especially in the cases where people approach things in a less than intelligent manner and just crush their metabolism in the process.

As far as not gaining optimal size, I'll say this:
-If you don't have enough size now, then ask yourself if you think competing would be a worthwhile experience.

-Plenty of people compete in their teens and early 20's, and go on to pack on plenty of size. The argument that competing too soon would prevent later gains is overblown in my opinion. Yes, your body is in some prime growth years, and you would certainly be smart to capitalize on them, but, if it's something you want to do, then refer to my first point. What do you want out of the experience?

-If you haven't already, check out a local show and see the teenage class. In a 'tested' contest, people your age are going to look markedly different than those in an NPC (untested) show.



yeah, i definitely have no intention of competing now, just thinking into the near future. thanks for the pointers. I will go looking around to see if there are any tested contest around my area and take a look. Another question i have is how much weight would usually be lost in a 16 weeks contest prep? 25-35lbs? or more? thanks


I started competing as a teenager. Imo, as long as you stay natural and don't mess up your endocrine system with drugs, it's a great thing to do.
It teaches you so much you will profit from in many aspects. A contest prep need lots of discipline, committment and dedication. These 'skills' will for sure help you in school, at university or in your professional carreer.

After 20 years of competitive bodybuiling I sometimes have the feeling that 'everything is bodybuilding'. No matter how hard or challenging a new project at work or just any other problem might look, I know I can succeed because my will is strong and no matter how much it will hurt, I will kero going.
So yes, competing as a teen is good imho. But as I said, I would always advise to go the natural way.

As for gains, I always found that doing one show a year acctually helped me gaining quality mass in the longer run. The 3 month or so after a show are so very 'productive' every time in terms of strength and mass gains. It's line the body had been primed for gaining muscle during the months of diet and contest prep.


okay sounds good. I dont have any intentions to become unnatural so should not be a problem. yeah ive read many contest logs on this site and i am very impressed with the amount of dedication that goes into the prep.

thanks for the advice, will keep it in my head if i ever decide to compete in the near future


Feel free to ask if you need any advice on prep. Always happy to help.


sure! thanks alot. I am currently on a calorie deficit as ive gotten abit overboard with my weight gain and put on quite a bit of fat. how fast should i be dropping my weight? is 2lbs per week too fast?


What mistakes did you make back then when competing as a teen?