Training Tips from Teen Champs

10 NPC Teen Nationals competitors who went pro share their best advice for young bodybuilders.

Kevin Horton / Per Bernal

Former teen champ Steve Kuclo leg presses heavy metal at 21.


“Master the basics. When you’re a beginner and for your first few years, what you need is muscle size, and the best exercises for that are the basics—deadlifts, bench presses, squats, military presses, and barbell rows. Learn how to do those correctly and gradually get stronger in them, and you’ll grow. There’s no reason to get too fancy. Focus mostly on free-weight, basic lifts and performing them with correct form. If you do that, it’ll serve you well for many years.”

Though he won the Teen Nationals heavyweight divisions in 2004 and 2005, Steve Kuclo lost the overalls to fellow future pros both years. So far, he’s won three IFBB Pro League contests. 


“I don’t think there’s a special way to train and diet when you’re a teenager. There are just right ways to do things and wrong ways, so as a beginner and throughout your first few years, however old you are, you want to learn how to do exercises right. You want to figure out which exercises work best for your body and all the little tweaks that target your muscles best. Develop good habits. Don’t skip workouts and don’t skip meals or skimp on your meals. Learn all you can about nutrition, as well as training. If you learn these habits when you’re young, they’ll carry you throughout your life.”

When he was second in the four-person lightweight class of the 1994 Teen Nationals, no one could’ve predicted the legendary career of Jose Raymond. He’s won nine pro shows and been near the top of the 202 or 212 Olympia the past eight years, including a second-place finish in 2015.



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