Workouts for teenagers: basic rules

Teenagers should be active in fitness through sports and/or workouts, but there are few basic rules which must be followed as ignoring these could be dangerous for the teens.

1)      Do not do bodybuilding before the age of 13. The reason for this is because the young body is still in the growing stage and the bones are too tender, which does not allow them to support heavy training. Rather, the teen’s own body weight should be used in exercises. For example push-ups, dips, sit ups, etc which all use only the body weight of the teenager are all ok exercises.

2)      Very challenging and intense exercises such as deadlifts and squats (with weights) should only be used after the age of minimum 16 years. These exercises utilize a lot of muscles in the body and are very intense, which is why a very good form / technique must be used and any errors can lead to potentially serious problems. Squats can be done without any weights.

3)      Avoid taking supplements. Supplements are tools which give an extra edge. This little extra is not necessary for teenagers as the purpose is not to compete like adults do. A teenager is well able to train properly without the use of any supplements.

Workouts for teenagers: starting to train

Level 1 workout:

At this level the teenager has not really done any sports and is not fit at all. He or she can also be overweight. If you are in this level then you can begin with a simple routine using bodyweight exercises, namely, push-ups, dips, squatting and doing some cardio such as walking or running in order to burn some calories and improve the overall endurance.

workouts-for-teenagers-push-upworkouts-for-teenagers-dips workouts-for-teenagers-squat

Remember, you want to start at an easy level and slowly increase the difficulty. For example, if the teenager can do only 1 push-up – fine, but in 2 days time the target is 2. If can only run for 5 minutes – fine, in 2 days the target is at least 7 minutes.

The good news is that there are a huge amount of bodyweight only exercises so you will never get bored doing the same ones.

You can graduate from level 1 if you can train a lot in level 1 and still feel like you have barely done anything. This would indicate you have outgrown those exercises and feel the need of a bigger challenge.

Level 2 workout:

After level 1 the teen is now ready for level 2 where he or she can start using light weights as long as they fall into this rule: The weight has to be such that the teen can do 12-15 repetitions and stop even though he or she can still do even 5 more. In other words, most of the time, it will be a very light weight. Teenagers should not train to failure or attempt heavy weights with few reps.

All exercises can be done by boys and girls as long as they adhere to the rule above.

The training in level 1 should take place every 2 days and the full body should be trained with basic exercises.

For biceps: standing dumbbell curls & standing hammer curls will suffice. Biceps are good to train because it is a relatively easy trainable muscle and the development will give good motivation as well as good looks from friends. For triceps: dips with own bodyweight can be continued with more sets/repetitions.


For chest (called pecs, coming from pectoral muscles): push-up remains a solid exercise. Bench press & dumbbell flies can be added also. It is important to use a wide grip always in order for the chest muscles to train better.

workouts-for-teenagers-push-upworkouts-for-teenagers-bench-press workouts-for-teenagers-dumbbell‑fly

For back: Pull ups or reverse push-ups. As for chest, you want to use a wide grip to target the back better. Dumbbell shrugs can also be added if wanted.


For shoulder: standing military press with dumbbells or barbell and should suffice to begin with. It is critical to keep a correct form as shoulders can get injured easily if the exercise is not done seriously.


For legs: regular bodyweight squats can be continued while making them more difficult. As well, walking lunges can be added, also using bodyweight to start with.


For abdominals (abs): there are a lot of exercises just using the body weight such as knee ups, crunches as well as side and front planks.

Workouts for teenagers: final points

Remember that the most important is to keep a perfect form or technique in your movements - doing this will make certain that you do not injure yourself.

The general idea is always to increase your difficulty, but it is ok to remain at a certain level if you feel your body is not ready to step it up. At these ages one should not train to failure or do very intense weight training, so steady and slow progress are always preferred to quick and hastened decisions. That said, what you want ideally is basically a continuous increase in difficulty which reflects the strengthening of the body over time. Difficulty can be raised with weights, number of repetitions or number of sets.

Finally do not do in the gym something that you can do more fun outside. If you like to play football or tennis then that is much better than doing cardio in the gym. If you help someone move furniture or do community service moving wood or cleaning up heavy things then this would be better than doing static weight training in the gym. Not only it will train your muscles from different angles but it will keep you active among your friends and in the society.

Workouts for teenagers: Videos

Good teenager workout videos are hard to find so I took the 3 best ones I could find. They are still not 100% to my liking in terms of what I want to show, but it is better than nothing.

Teens need to work out more. Teen exercise fitness

Chins-up Workout - 12 reps 13 teen

Teen Bodybuilder: 15yo Milan training biceps & posing