“If you’re staring to compare yourself to that, then jeez, there’s going to be some pressure there.”
YouTube duo Leon Bustin and John Chapman, commonly known as TheLeanMachines, discussed how young people should lift weights based on their ages and body types, the different equipment you should use, and how the pressures of being a teenager impact your approach to weightlifting.
Leon touches on the difficulties of being a teenager in the social media age. “Look at the magazines, look at everyone living their ‘#bestlife’ on social media and vlogging and just looking unbelievable,” he says. “If you’re starting to compare yourself to that, then jeez, theres going to be some pressures there.” John notes that, even within the broad category of “teenaged”, everyone is bound to differ in the way they develop biologically. “You have teenagers who are 12 or 13 and look like men or women, or you have someone like myself,” he adds. “I didn’t have a hair on my body until I was probably in my 20’s.”
However, that’s not to say that teens should stay away from weightlifting altogether, but John notes that there are some concepts that are useful to be aware of before starting training. “We know that testosterone really helps us build muscles, so those who are a bit more developed have way more chance at building muscle than someone like myself at a younger age,” says John. “The more muscle you have, typically the more weight you can lift, and if you’re lifting crapily with bad form, theres more chance of you getting injured.”
Having worked in gyms and in the exercising industry for 10 years, John and Leon add advice from what they’ve personally seen. “Some of the worst form and most overloaded bars I’ve ever seen are from young males and females in the free weights section,” Leon explains. “I walked into the gym when I started boxing at around 19 to 20 years old, started lifting weights. It took me five minutes to look around and become very aware of the fact that I was the weakest dude in there, and what is the first reaction that we have? We put more weight on the bar, and start moving horrifically.”
But John then brings us back to the root question: definitively, should teenagers be lifting weights at all? “It isn’t really a case of can or should, it’s why should they,” says John. “You should be doing American football or rugby if that’s what you love, you should be lifting weights if that’s something that you really enjoy. You shouldn’t necessarily feel the pressures, and that’s a really hard thing to say. We all feel pressures, but in this day and age with social media we follow a select amount of people. All those people that you follow with amazing bodies are the top 1% of people in the world. That doesn’t mean you’ll never look like that, but you should lower your expectations to a manageable amount.”
Find out about Shantania Beckford’s life as a homeless immigrant. Alternatively, check out Tom Rosenthal’s first ever live shows.
For updates, follow @TenEightyUK on Twitter or like TenEighty UK on Facebook.