How can I gain muscle?

A 15-year-old worries that his legs look thin and small. How can he get more confidence around girls? 
Our elder has some advice to help build muscle slowly—and safely.


Dear EWC

I’m 15 and I’m honestly not too sure how far I am in puberty. That’s probably a weird way to start a question but I’m really disappointed in myself cause I’ve always did a little bit of work with my family here and there and I thought maybe I’d ask my 10 year old sister to arm wrestle and don’t get me wrong I beat her but it was harder than I thought.

I see kids my age with way more muscle than me. I am always feeling bad about myself. I used to weigh 185lbs, almost all fat. But I lost a lot and I now weigh 135-140lbs depending on how much I eat that day. The way I lost so much was eating breakfast (sometimes), then no lunch then a bigger dinner. I don’t wear shorts a lot so when I did I looked in the mirror and my legs are so thin and small compared to other kids at school. That may seem weird but I just noticed that. And so are my arms and hands. I want to gain muscle but idk how. I have no way to go to a gym or join a sport cause in my high school I have to be ready to play. And I’d get ran down. And I would go to work with my dad but he does block and before I had so much weight on me I was really lazy and I still am but I would just sit there all day until he wanted me to pick up the blocks. And I barely carried two.

I need to gain muscle because I don’t want to someday meet a girl that somehow like me back and she be stronger than me (it’s not a bad thing; I just feel like I should be the stronger one). Especially since the mutual like that me and this girl had a while back was strong but I felt so weak and unpopular and ugly to date her. So many people like her. I let her go and now she barely talks to me. She still stares at me but I don’t have any confidence since her boyfriend she had after liking me was 6 foot 4 and I’m 5 foot 9 or 10 (they’re not together anymore). If I had muscle I’d feel a little bit more confident is what I think I’m saying. I probably got really side tracked but I need someone to tell me some really good ways to get muscle in a decent amount of time. It only took me six months to loose 40lbs of the weight I lost. I feel like I might get muscle in a decent time. I know it takes time to gain muscle and I do have some dumbbells in different weights.

PS I’m needing to get muscles in all places you normally would. I’m not looking for anything too crazy, just some simple things I can do.


Dirk replies

Thanks for your question and interest in The Elder Wisdom Circle. 

You certainly have the discipline to pursue strength training. Anyone who can lose 40 pounds has my respect! To put muscle on properly requires the same, maybe even more discipline. Hurrying the body’s processes and not giving the body proper rest from strength training, or using supplements to speed the muscle building process, or doing too much to soon inevitably will result in injury and burnout.

The first thing that I would suggest is to make sure that your aerobic conditioning is good. Getting your heart rate elevated by running/walking for a half hour a day should ensure that your circulatory system can handle the stress of lifting weights. 

To make the transition to lifting weight I would suggest that you get really good at doing reps of standard exercises with very good form and technique. For an example of what I mean, go to the internet and look up Nerd fitness, “How to do a proper push up,” or T Nation LLc. “Push ups: you’re doing them wrong!” Other standard exercises to perform are pull ups, planks, bridges, burpees, sit ups, etc. The advantage of these exercises is that you do not need, other than your own body weight, any equipment. Just good form.

After you get very comfortable doing multiple sets of the basic exercises, I would suggest that you gradually add weights to your existing program. Google Muscle and Strength: Teenage Bodybuilding Guide for an example of how to start what could be the next phase of your development. Of course there are many other guides and people around you—friends or coaches—who may have other references for you. This one seemed like a good place to start.

Finally, the results may come more slowly than you would like, but it is very important that you protect your developing body by relying your already well-developed discipline!


I wish you well!

Best Regards,

Elder Dirk


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