Summer off-season training is a great opportunity for athletes to pack on a large amount of muscle in a very short period of time. These three months are ideal for training because most athletes have fewer commitments during the summer, allowing them to really focus on improving their strength and size.
However, this will not happen by chance. For athletes to make serious gains in only 12 weeks, they must be spot on with their nutrition and training. This means, eating enough calories and protein to support muscles growth, while also following a proper strength and conditioning program in the weight room.
When it comes to gaining muscle, the #1 priority of any athlete needs to be nutrition. Simply put, you cannot gain weight without eating more calories than you burn. For most youth athletes, this amount is A LOT.
To get a rough idea of how many calories your son/daughter needs, try this calculator - link.
Keep in mind, this number is the amount of calories an athlete needs to maintain his/her current weight, not to gain weight. To gain 10 pounds in only 12 weeks, an athlete would need to eat around 500 extra calories a day, on top of what they burn.
- 1 pound of body weight equals approximately 3500 calories.
Now that we know how to gain weight, let’s focus on gaining “good” weight (i.e. muscle).
When calorie requirements are met, the next thing to focus on is protein. Proteins are what the body uses to build new tissue and are crucial for muscle growth. There is a lot of debate about how much protein an athlete should consume a day, but rough estimate is approximately 0.75g for every 1lb pound of body weight (link). If you are counting calories, you would want to aim for 25-30% of total calories from protein.
- Anaerobic sport athletes will need more protein than endurance sport athletes
The training program your son/daughter uses will have a large impact on the amount of muscle that is gained over the summer. The key to stimulate the body into muscle growth is focusing on large compound exercises such as – squat, deadlift, bench press, and pull up. These exercises use the most muscles and stress the body into producing muscle growth hormones.
Programs that focus too heavily on “functional training,” speed and agility exercises, and Olympic lifting are less beneficial because they do not stress the body optimally for muscle growth.
Doing all the right things only matters if you are consistent. Everyone is going to have an off day from time to time, and things like family vacations are important, but to really see rapid results, you need to have consistency. This means following a set training program 3-5 days per week and avoiding missed workouts. It also means going to bed early when you know you have training in the morning and eating a chicken breast instead of ice cream for dinner.
The last key to the muscle growth puzzle is rest. No one needs more rest than a teenage athlete, yet they often get much less than they should. Due to homework, activities, and electronics, many teenagers are only getting 5-8 hours of sleep a night, while the National Sleep Foundation recommends 8-10 (link).
The first obvious benefit of more sleep is a boost in energy. This extra energy will help improve performance in the weight room and on the playing field. A lesser known benefit is the positive effects it has on the hormones associated with muscle growth. A more rested athlete will have higher levels of growth hormone and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which will result in a leaner, more muscular athlete.
- To help your son/daughter get better rest, have him/her avoid eating and drinking late in the evening, and turn off the TV and cellphone 30 minutes before bedtime.