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Too Young to Lift Heavy?


Preface: All right so I think this is a really dumb question to ask but there is actually some basis behind it.

So i'm coming home from college this summer and my brother sees that i've been making pretty decent gains in the gym in a little under a semester. I've worked out on and off for years but this is the only year i've actually tried to train. Anyways, my brother is sick and tired of being skinny and wants me to help him put muscle on. I keep telling him with his skinny frame (visible striations in his shoulders, quads, etc.) that any amount of work he puts in the gym he will just about immediately see. The only problem is that he is just turning 15 next month, and i'm worried about pushing him too hard or hurting him.

The reason i asked is that the last time i went in to the rec center (very small center with bodybuilder.com type of staff i.e. NO-Xplode) the guy working the desk in the weight room said my brother could come in, but he was not allowed on the squat machine. I was curious as to why, and i think i heard something like stunting his growth or some shit like that. Now in my head i called bullshit and just forgot the whole thing, but the entire situation had got me thinking.

Now i am by no means a pro at weightlifting but i know what good bench, deadlift, and squat form is. I was thinking about getting my brother in rotation in all 3 of these lifts and maybe some structure from West side for skinny bastards.

So my ultimate question is: can a 15 year old do the 3 major lifts, safely and without any repercussions? Also is the guy at the Rec full of shit?

Also.. after doing some research i realize 1RM's are a no-no for beginners, which i don't think i would have implemented anyways.

Questions and comments are very welcome.



squat machine? you mean the smith machine? The guy was right, your brother shouldn't be squatting in the smith machine, nor should anyone else.

Sounds like a good plan. There's no reason a 15 year old can't lift, as long as their form is good. The rec guy is full of it. You might want to dig up the bodyweight workout the Chris Colucci posted a while back and have him do that for a few weeks. It's in this forum somewhere, I forget where it was, but it's a good way to prepare a young lifter for heavier weights.


Alex I was 13 when I started training and I squatted, deadlifted, Benched, Push Pressed, Power Clean and Snatched, and trained up to 4 days a week. I will say that I am only 5'6" but considering my father and grandfather on both sides of my family are only 5'8" and my mother and grandmother are just over 5 foot even I seriously doubt it was the squat rack that me me short.

I have a friend who plays for Boyd-Buchanon High School Football here in TN and he has been training with weights since before I did and he is right at 6 foot. So I have to say that the guy with the stunting his growth theory is full of shit... although maybe if your brother was under 10 maybe it would hold up.

I would definetly get your brother on a routine... work him into the routine slowly though... and get his eating up lots of Protein AND CARBS he wont gain weight drinking protein shakes and nothing else.


Guy at REC centre is full of it. These are Oly lifting specific but worth a look:


So long as you are there and are fully competent with regard to coaching and technique there should be no negative repercussions to your brother's health from weights training. Make sure your brother learns technique. Let him spend a good while with lower weights just to get technique right.

Have him start doing bodyweight exercises while you are in the technique coaching stage, these should help with his skeletal physique. Press-ups, BW squats, Dips, Pull-ups, Chin-ups and one-legged squats are all good exercises for him to do while he's still learning the techniques for Deadlift, Squat and Bench.

The last thing you want is him to think that his technique is "great" and then when you are gone he decides to go heavier than before and F**K's himself up. He should understand that perfect technique is always required even when lifting heavy weights. It should be clear to him that lifting a heavier weight with worse form is a setback in training and not progress.


Training to muscular failure with poor form can be a bad thing for growth plates. Training with proper instruction and avoiding failure is what we'd want to do.

As far as not using the "squat machine", I'd probably agree with that on principle alone.

And boom goes the dynamite:

Jahall, start him with his age in reps (so 2x15) on those six basic bodyweight exercises. Once those are all "easy", progress to a basic program centered around compound free weight lifts.

And regarding this...

If you want to instantly become the most awesome big brother ever, before you go back to school, get him a gift card to a local supermarket (call it an early b'day present, whatever) so he can buy himself some decent food without hassling your folks too much.

If he's that skinny, food is going to be a make-or-break point.


i read that he wasnt fat, but is he active? can he do pushups, dips, chins and bw squats etc. im not talking about loads of reps, just the co-ordination, if he cant, the new movemnet patterns of weight lifting might hld him back


He said squat machine but what i was thinking was the power rack. I hate the smith machine with a passion because i'm tall and have bad knees in the first place, so i wouldn't have ever got him on that.


Thanks! That's great advice. But our family runs pretty tall (I'm current a 6'2 Freshman in College) so i wasn't really that worried in the first place, but i like your personal experience with the issue.

Also the diet is going to be a bit of a struggle but my mom cooks pretty clean as it is. He's also bought some myoplex from costco(i personally hate the taste of it, but it's a start) but i will make sure to get him plenty of carbs and fats on top of that.


Awesome links!!! thanks a ton!

And i consider myself to be some what of a form freak, so i am not worried about teaching the basic 3. My room mate now, tylerpk4l, is also on the site and knows anything i don't so I'm not really worried about teaching him 'great' form as you said.


More great information here, so thanks a ton! I'll keep the failure aspect out of it and make sure he's doing enough reps.

Like i said earlier food is pretty damn clean already but i'll talk to him about it. I've also already told him the 'nutrition is 90 percent of your physique' or whatever the exact quote is.


He is active, he plays a good bit of basketball right now. He can do pushups, assisted dips and assisted chins (not the machine, but if i hold his legs to stabilize him), so he has the coordination down i believe.
I'll keep in mind the basics though, that's a pretty big mistake i made in my training routine. I never did pull-ups or dips just because i couldn't and now I'm busting my ass trying to get them to where they need to be.

Edit: Sorry for all of the responses but everyone has given me so much good information on this subject i figured i'd thank everyone individually..


Yeah I remember Matt Kroc first started off his kids I thin karound 8-15 doing box jumps and bodyweight stuff things like pullups with bands you know. Then gradually is moving them on to other stuff.