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Many high school athletes want to build muscle quickly, but don't know the best way to start. If you are already on a lifting program but are not gaining the muscle mass you want, check your diet. Here's a secret: the difference between most college athletes and their high school counterparts is their diet (and their muscles).
Tracking Your Diet
Record everything you eat for five days, including weekdays and a weekend. Once you've compiled your list, figure out how many calories you're generally consuming each day. You have plenty of options for tracking your calorie intake; I like Fatsecret.com, because it has an easy-to-use website and an app that works with most phones.
Many high school athletes have a large calorie deficit, because they have intense practices and workouts. Everyone has different nutritional needs, but an active teen male can usually afford to eat around 3,000 calories a day. See if you're coming close to this amount. If not, start adding healthy snacks and more protein to boost your intake.
You've determined your calorie intake and whether you need to eat more. But to build muscle, you need to consume more protein. When muscles become fatigued, they develop small tears. To help repair and grow the muscle fibers, the body requires protein.
The average person should consume about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. An athlete who is strength training can take in up to two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
First, to find your weight in kilograms (your weight in pounds divided by 2.2, or try this free online conversion chart). If you weigh 170 pounds, then you weigh 77.3 kilograms and should consume approximately 150 grams of protein a day.
Protein comes from foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and even some nuts, such as almonds. Try eating at least one protein source at each meal. For example, eat eggs with breakfast, turkey with lunch and a chicken breast for dinner. Between meals, snack wisely with Greek yogurt or peanut butter on bread, which will help increase your protein intake. You should be eating four to six times per day.
Regarding your workouts themselves, get the most bang for your buck. Lifts that target the largest muscles in your body will help you add mass. Focus on Bench Press, Squats, Deadlifts and back exercises. These should form the foundation of your workout routine. Single-muscle exercises, such as Bicep Curls, don't promote as much muscle growth. Do them only as a supplement to your large muscle group exercises. Building mass quickly requires engaging the most muscles per exercise.
If you adjust your diet and incorporate these lifts into your routine, you should begin seeing results in as little as four weeks. Adding two pounds of muscle per week is a lofty goal, but it is attainable under the right plan.
Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track and field, baseball and golf. He has worked as a personal trainer for more than seven years. Follow him online at jerseystrong.wordpress.com or on Twitter.