Getting ripped or big—or both—aren’t exclusively the goals of fully-grown men. But teens and even younger 20-somethings aren’t yet grown men (sorry), so your training has to be a little different, too. Mostly in good ways, though; younger bodies respond better than older ones—all those raging hormones are good for something! With the right plan, you can and will put on muscle and become stronger or leaner or whatever your goal is, says Ewunike A. Akpan, BOKS (Build Our Kids’ Success) Fitness program developer and an ACE-certified personal trainer and owner of Lotus Fitness in Washington DC. And while of course you want to look good, training has other awesome benefits, including increasing strength, improving sports performance, and even preventing injury, she says.

But a lot of teens (like a lot of adults) don’t know where to start, even if they’ve spent a little time around a weight room. “When it comes to programming, we talk about training age, not just chronological age,” says Jim Kielbaso, MS, CSCS, International Youth Fitness Associationexpert and owner of Detroit-area Total Performance Training Center. “In general, teenagers are beginner lifters simply because they haven’t lifted weights long enough to really get great at it.” To safely get great at it, he suggests working with a professional trainer for at least a few sessions to learn good form.

So what’s the “right plan”? Read on.

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