My 16-year-old son is addicted to working out. He’ll spend up to three hours in the gym on weekend days and after school he’s there at least two hours. It’s actually beginning to affect his studies. He’s not training for a sport, but says he wants to become Mr. Olympia. I know that you are considered the father of modern bodybuilding, but I’m concerned that he’s overdoing it.
I understand your concern and I actually share it, despite the fact that I am one of bodybuilding’s biggest proponents.
I, myself, was rather addicted to lifting when I was 16. Weeks would go by during which I wouldn’t take even a day off, I loved it so much. I would get incredibly sore from all the training and while I’m sure I cut into my gains from all the overtraining I would have had it no other way. I was fueled purely by enthusiasm.
It sounds as if your son has this same kind of enthusiasm, so I can empathize with his view. However, it’s the rare person who can turn a passion for lifting weights into a career. So rare, in fact, that only 15-20 men even qualify to compete in the Mr. Olympia contest, the sport’s ultimate show, each year. That’s 15-20 in the entire world! And of those 15-20, 10 of them don’t have a realistic chance of taking top honors.
Please tell your son that I say I’m proud of him for choosing to take control of his level of fitness in such an enthusiastic way, but that I want him to make training a part of a balanced life. Even I started to let up on the exercising so I could build my publishing business. If your son truly has the genetics to be Mr. Olympia, then he will see ample progress training 4-5 days a week for an hour and a half or less a workout. Training more won’t bring about greater gains, only detract from the rest of his life and wear him out.