T Nation

Puberty vs. Growth

A recent post mentioned this subject, and I wanted to go a little deeper into it, if you guys don’t mind.

Obviously, when you hit your growth spurt, your muscles grow naturally, whether or not you lift. I’ve heard things about your leg muscles maturing first, and your chest maturing last… is there any truth in this? At one point in puberty do your muscles reach “adulthood”… the early or late stages?

I ask because of this. I’m 17, but have no pronounced facial or body hair (save underarms and my little buddy, not to be disgusting). I’m kind of hoping that a lot of my gains could even speed up as a get older. A lot of my friends are shaving their beards at this age, and these kids HAPPEN TO BE some of the strongest ones I work out with (the ones who are stronger than me, basically).

So, is there any truth to this upper-body-maturing-last theory? Can I still expect a lot of growth, or a speedup in strength/size gains, if I don’t have a beard? Or am I hoping a little too much?


I can’t answer all your questions. But based on my observation (I taught junior-high/high school for 6 years, and college for 6 years), there is a notable difference in size between a 17-year-old and a 23-year-old. You can expect to gain a good bit over the next 5 years.

When I was 17 I was 6’2" about 208, I was lucky or unlucky to have graduated HS at that age and got a FB scholorship to a Div II school. I can tell you that for me I grew dramatically in strengh the fall after my freshman year. When I was a junior, I had gone from 208 lbs to 235lbs of muscle and played weak side LB instead of TE. Having said all this, at 17 I really did not shave either, but by the time I hit 20 my natural t levels where pumping hard. The unlucky part is that when I finally graduated and was 23 I was considrably stronger so I wish I had of been 18 or 19 when I started college. The most bench press I did in college was 385, but at 23 I hit 405. So all in all I think the 17 - 23 is when the juices flow. Just my 2 cents.


Just to give you a bit of encouragement, I was pretty much in the same boat. Not a hairy guy, didn’t really have to shave … mind you, I’m still not hairy. Anyways, back at that age I was around six feet tall and 145 lbs. Not too impressive. We’re talking ectomorph written all over me.

It all turned out well though. Not sure if you’ve seen any of the pics that have gone up quite a while ago, but my heaviest weight has been in the low 250s.

You’ve got lots of growing to do.

Oh, I’ve seen your pictures.

You scare small children. And like it that way, too, I bet.