T Nation

Having an Athletic Edge Over the Crowd


Hey CT, I'm 16 and I go to a school where almost everyone is really athletic, strong, fast, and conditioned. Everyone seems to be doing all the basics though: Squats, bench, overhead, deadlifts, sprints ecy--nothing special. and they're all really good at them. I'm a pretty small person (5.7, 150lbs if it matters) and it seems every time I make progress and get stronger, someone twice as small as me, with worse genetics, is lifting/running/whatever better than me.

It's not that I'm jealous, or let me ego get in the way, I just want to be able to perform better than everyone else. How should I train to get better, and have an edge over the competition; what should I do different in combination with all the basic lifts? I want to have that dynamic, all-around athleticism that sets me apart from the crowd.

This is not a sports specific (football, track, ect) question. I just want to know how I can set myself apart.

Also, could you give me a few tips on forearm/lower bicep region, and calve hypertrophy? What would be the best rep range, training frequencies and methods to build these genetically inferior parts of my body? Thanks


I'm sure CT can help you more with what to do but as far as your size(5'7 150) you are about the same size as a guy I went to school with he was probably a tad bit shorter. He worked his but off in the weight room and became a very good running back.

When he graduated he was about 175 lbs and strong as heck(600 lb squat with squat suit). He played at a D2 school and finished his career as their all time leading rusher... So don't like size be a mental hurdle for you... Oh and when CT tells you about the different explosive pulls do it!!


If you want to be better than everyone else, you have to work harder than everyone else. There are no secrets.

Also, stop worrying about your "lower bicep region" and "calve hyperytophy"


To many people think they will jump high if they have bigger calf muscles... that is false, jumping come from the Posterior chain... so start doing high pulls!!


eat more, sleep well, avoid alcohol, train hard :smiley:


(Apologies to Thib. I just wanted to chime in here.)

This is all in your head. I promise you. And even if, if, it were true, there's always going to be somebody bigger, stronger, faster, leaner, richer, or better looking than you. This is called life, and it might suck sometimes, but we're all in it and we're all dealing with it 24/7.

You should remind yourself of your goals every day. Every night before bed, ask yourself, "Could today's-me have kicked yesterday's-me's ass?" As long as the honest answer is 'yes', you're on the right track.

Combine brains, heart, muscle, hustle, and guts. I'd bet money most kids you know aren't trying to improve all five of those traits. If you do, then you'll stand out.

Farmer's walk like a mudderfugger. But really, making those body parts bigger will not make you a better athlete.

Dude, you're not even out of puberty, so why are you even thinking about "genetically inferior" anything. Throw that crap out of your head and focus on being consistent in the gym, on the field, at home, and in the classroom. You're in this for the long-term, so trying to be 110% the best of the best right now might keep you on the team, might make you a star player, or it might lead to burnout or, worse, injury.

Training-wise, stick with the basics. That means bodyweight stuff and free weight exercises. Avoid training to muscular failure. Be consistent, week in and week out, but don't think training 6 days a week is twice as good as training 3 days a week. Food-wise, eat well, but don't try to eat like a pre-contest bodybuilder. If you can cook a bit for yourself, even better.


Oh, and you're 16 - I wouldn't go too hardcore on weightlifting yet incase you hope to grow a little bit taller.
You could always just start doing different sports, since you want to be athletic. How big your squat # is doesn't define athleticism.

[ath-let-ik] Show IPA

1. physically active and strong; good at athletics or sports: an athletic child.
2. of, like, or befitting an athlete.
3. of or pertaining to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina: athletic sports; athletic training.

Though if you still want, you could keep your rep range above 10, it's good for hypertrophy, and wont risk injury in your newbie weightlifting tendons, ligaments and joints.


Here's something CT posted for a young athlete. Hopefully this helps until CT chimes in.

CT- Young Athlete

Honestly I would focus on learning perfect form on the big basic lifts. To me, a young athlete should be able to do the following with solid form:

  • Back squat
  • Bench press
  • Power clean & push press
  • Deadlift
  • High pull
  • Chin-ups

The key is learning exercisew mastery and making technique automatic. So for that reason it is best to practice each lift more often (2-3 times a week) with moderate weight. I would stick to sets of 5-6 reps, but using a weight where perfect technique can be used on all reps.


Perfect technique! When you are your age you can gain a lot of muscle your first year or two if you do everything right!


Sorry, can't let this slide through. This is false.

A well-designed weight training plan will absolutely not stunt a kid's height. Inappropriate lifting may cause damage, but a young dude can definitely work up to going "hardcore on weightlifting" as long as he uses his brain.

The biggest factor in smart lifting for kids vs. dumb lifting for kids is pushing sets up to or beyond muscular failure. Always keep a rep or two in the tank and there's basically zero problems.


Well for me "training hardcore" doesn't mean leaving two reps in the tank, but I guess the word can be interpreted in different ways. For a teenage in gyms, with other teenagers, it will be hard to not go and try 1MR PR's.

I totally agree what you said about smart lifting, but I think its improbable considering his opening post notions a message of wanting to be the strongest in the GYM.


16 years of age is a good age to start hardcore training. We have several football players roughly that have (16-18) who can clean 275lbs or more and one who can clean 315. We also have a 15 years old hockey player who can push press 255lbs for 5 reps.

Get good technique on the big basics... squats, deads, bench, push press, power clean

THEN (only when you have good technique) get strong on the big basics

Do lots of various types of jumps... the better you are at jumping the faster and quicker you will be. And being fast is MUCH more important than being big (even than being strong).

I also love Chris' suggestions to do carries. But I'll go a step further... do not limit yourself to farmer's walk... buy a wheelbarrow and do wheelbarrow walking, also do yoke carries (put a loaded bar on your shoulders and walk)... these carries can be done either for speed (fastest you can cover 30-40 yards), strength (heaviest weight you can carry over 30-40 yards) or conditioning (max distance you can cover in 2 to 5 minute sets).


WOW! Those are some strong kids. I love that they are doing explosive lifts at that age. When I was in school there was a HUGE focus on squatting and we were strong. But the most a was able to power clean was 225 when I was squatting 550 or so...


15yo pushpressing 255lbs for 5reps? idliketo see that, and a xray of his spine from the side...


At that age he is one of the biggest freak that I've seen. And not that physically huge either.


I went to school with a guy who squatted 630 when he was 15... he did it his freshman year at the state meet... physical freak! Ended up doing about an 830... He was huge though LOL kinda looked like Mark Henry! LOL


Hello TNATION, and CT,

I found a forum to add to. I am new to TNation (like 3 hrs in) and have been body weight training for 3 yrs and weight training for about 8 months. I jumped into this form just because I relate. I am 14 and have been playing Baseball year round since age 5, Rec. ball, travel ball, All stars, and now JV and Legion ball.

I also play basketball and looking to get started in Football next summer. I play 2nd base, backup catcher and pitcher but Dad won't let me show coach my pitching. Something about coach seen my ability on mound and fear of burning up my arm. Over the last 4 months of HS weight training I have seen my body change. Some due to HS weight train and some due to puberty.

I am loving the change and just pushes me to keep working. I am 5'6", 140lbs, and about 9% BF. I feel where Grant.Fowler10 is coming from. Hey Grant, work your butt off and don't think those other guys are not in the same boat as you. Trust me they are questioning themselves too on "why ain't I as fast as him or as strong or as athletic"? That is called competition and in that is what makes you better.

Anyways I am not the strongest and sure as heck not the fastest actually 2nd to slowest. My 40yrd sprint is 5.4 and 60 yrd is 8 flat. Coach wants to see me put on some mass and strength and get faster. My personal goal is hit the 40 in 4.70 by Feb. The only thing I have going for me is a hot glove and bat, but a 5.7/40 and my size is not going to keep me on the field and my butt was not designed to sit on a flat bench.

My Dad has transformed the back garage into probably every thing I need. Full squat rack, bench, 450lbs of Olympic weights, 410lbs of standard weights, dumb bells, bands, treadmill.....etc. there is even a P-bar and rings because my brother does gymnastics. Great for dips and pull ups and what ever else you can come up with. Weight training class at HS did some good but after training with Dad I learned it was a joke.

Some what effective joke but coaches could care less about form and your progress not to mention what the heck we were doing. Dad was not happy about somethings. Like when I had back pain from squats and dead lifts and said I need a belt or how they said arching your back to the point of just your toes on the floor and shoulders are touching the bench, when benching heavy weight.

    OK, Lets get down to it. My dad likes this program, and has approved me to join and educate myself. We have dedicated 8 months of hardcore training to reach my goals by start of Baseball next season (Feb). My first goal is put on size/mass. 2nd goal strength. and 3rd goal speed lost of it. I have been told mass and strength training with goals of also gaining "SPEED" is almost impossible.

Dad says not so.....actually his favorite phrase is "The only thing in impossible is I'm possibly" This is our monthly agenda for 8 months. Mon, Wed, Fri weight training and Tues, Thur, Sat Plyometrics for agility.

Sept-lean up
Dec-lean up
Jan-lean up
Feb-Ball season starts

My questions are, will the I,BodyBuilder program help me reach my goals? Is this program designed to give me strength along with mass or just mass with low strength levels? I do not want to put on large amount of mass and sacrifice strength. As a baseball player I need to stay agile and have quick twitch muscle fibers but as I stated I need to put on Mass and strength and have 8 months to do it.

If this is not the program for me then please direct me to what will help me reach my goals. If this is the program can it work along with our weekly schedule of Mon, Wed, Fri weight training or do I need to stick to the I,builder program like glue.

Thanks in advance to all experts on future advice.


Hi Dawson,

i don't know who told you gaining speed and strength at the same time is impossible but they are wrong lol.

I think you should look at CT's Layer System.. you will literally build muscle, strength and explosiveness as fast as possible, and having such a good home gym set up means the Layer System is perfect for you.

so yeah look up the layer system, select your exercises, LEARN PERFECT TECHNIQUE, then focus on progress and you will get bigger and more powerful very quickly.

in future though, you should post in the actual forum, rather than hijack someone elses post... just saying.


As a coach I appreciate your willingness to train and improve. I know most of our athletes don't train hard or start and quit.
My lifting partner is a 35 year old softball player who has been following this program. He is hitting the ball so much further teammates are asking him what he did differently. Its not the same as hitting a baseball but it is power.

This site will help you. Good luck


Thanks for the info I will check it out and try not to overwhelm myself. Man there is some good stuff in here. I must have spent 4 hour yesterday reading and watching videos. The program my Dad has me on is close to Westside for Skinny Bastards. The Speed vs strength issue was.

Trying to put on large amounts of Mass and at the same time get faster. I apoligize to Grant.Fowler10 did not hijack your forum on purpose. I tried posting my own with same info but must have done something wrong, it never showed up.