Teen Bodybuilding


Anthony Hancock, staff writer

In the 60s and 70s, the sport of bodybuilding became popular with the help of then-future governor, businessman, and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He laid down a path for future bodybuilders with his physique and charisma. He is an idol to many for generations, motivating young student athletes into the world of bodybuilding.

Today’s athletes, who spend most of their days in the classroom, start lifting at a young age to get an edge on the intense competition. To help them, many schools have implemented weight rooms into their campuses. In Folsom, Calif., Jordan Smith, a junior attending Vista del Lago High School, discusses how weightlifting and bodybuilding training has affected his life as a student athlete.

“I don’t have much time outside of school to do much else outside the gym. I’m there from after school until I go home almost everyday,” Smith said. “If you’re not in the gym, you probably won’t see me,” he joked on a social media post.

How young is too young? How early is too early? Doesn’t the “student” come first in “student athlete” anyway?

Sam Fussell, a retired bodybuilder, stated that he had to go without giving time to his job, his friends, and his family at times in order to pursue his obsession with bodybuilding. He said how similar it could be to anorexia, in that someone can be so obsessed with their weight or appearance, it can consume all their time and mental energy.

A study conducted in 2014 by the American Psychology Association by Harris Interactive Inc. for teens and adults discovered that on average, teens feel 10 percent more stressed on a monthly basis. For people who spends every minute either sitting in a classroom or throwing 250 pounds over their heads, is bodybuilding the best use of freetime during such a stressful time?

In a Independent 2015 article written by Ana Swanson, a study was conducted that found that “a stressful work environment can take 33 years off your life.” School has been known raise stress levels in students who may not even participate in any extracurriculars. Even though Smith may have found a way to make it work, there are many other student athletes who may be mentally and emotionally affected by ridiculous amount of stress and pressure and simply not enough time.

Regardless, Smith and many other student athletes at Vista and throughout the United States are able to strive towards their dreams of bodybuilding at a younger age then many before them.