9 Reasons Teenage Boys Want To Grow Bigger And Stronger
Transitioning from childhood to manhood is one of the most interesting developmental stages of the human male. This period of adolescence is characterized by all sorts of changes ranging from mental to physical and social changes.
The words of Uncle Ben to Spiderman in the popular comic series, “these are the years when a man changes into the man he’s going to be for the rest of his life” accurately sums up this period of growth.
As a teenage boy, you’ve probably seen the Avengers at least once and then you walked away from that movie and thought to yourself, “Damn, I want to be a superhero!”
Truth be told, there’s no other period in the development of the human male when he experiences the same amount of hormonal bombardment as in his teenage years.
Obnoxious hair growth in the otherwise bare regions, the changing vocal cords and the fact that you’re out-growing your favorite shorts and shoes doesn’t quite help. To top that off, you get this really heightened sense of self – a state of amplified self-consciousness.
This stage not only comes with a truckload of emotional baggage, it brings along a hitherto absent obsession with size and strength evidenced by the teenager’s indulgence in body-building activities.
Over the years, it has been noticed that most body-building aficionados and fitness professionals had their first exposure to the gym in their early teens.
It is interesting to note that, though most teens engage in varying degrees of body building activities at one point or the other, only few have the discipline and resilience required to carry it on as a life-long habit.
Bigorexia, also known as muscle dysmorphia – an obsessive preoccupation with a delusional and often exaggerated belief that one’s body is too small or insufficiently muscular and needs to be bigger, whereas the body muscle mass is just sufficient – is usually first developed at this stage. Changing eating habits and higher exposure to pop culture makes an obsession with fitness quite pronounced among this age group.
The reasons teenage boys tend to hit the gym and attempt to put some muscles on that skinny body include;
With the onslaught of hormone-triggered changes characteristic of puberty comes a superhuman-like appetite due to an increased metabolic rate. It’s not strange for a boy at this stage to gulp down a big bowl of snack and reappear within minutes singing “the hunger anthem”.
This creates a situation of hyperactivity due to the high levels of energy in the body. This “over-dose” of strength needs dissipating and the gym is the natural go-to place for some productive calorie-burning session.
Media images/ social influences
The media is awash with images of the “the perfect male body” – sculpted abs with well-defined musculature, trim waist, bulging biceps and triceps.
This image of the ideal man is further perpetuated by actors, celebrities and sports figures that are role models for teenagers. The boys idolize their role models, looking like them is surely a step closer to being like their idols.
Family and School
The teenage years are the years of intense physical exertion on the sports field or indoor gyms of most schools.
The teenager is being introduced to certain sports for the first time and the rewarding burst of serotonin after a bout of gymnastics at the school gymnasium serves as a motivation for further stretching the body’s limits.
Also, some families encourage their children to follow in a tradition already established by their predecessors. This may require some level of physical exertion or body-building. Other families exercise together.
Bullying is a very serious issue among teenagers. In the classroom; on the playground, in the locker room, bullies are everywhere.
The larger and stronger looking kid tends to consider he is superior to others and thus arrogates power to him.
Oppressing others fuels his usually inordinate ego. Sadly, bullying has been identified as a reason some boys want to grow a larger and stronger body. They want to be the toughest kid on the block, so they can oppress their peers.
On the bright side, some teenagers also derive their motivation for body-building from a desire to stand up to bullies.
The opposite sex:
The teenager is not just developing his sense of self at this stage; he also becomes more aware of the opposite sex and how she perceives him.
Just as the teenage girl dresses up to impress the male, the male also works out to enhance her perception of him as attractive and healthy. After all, it’s no secret that the ladies tend to gosh when the trimmest guy shows off his abs.
A lot of girls are attracted to men with a little muscle. If you are wondering why they like muscular guys, you need to take a history lesson and you should also think about psychology.
If a man is muscular, it means that he has good genes, has self-discipline, he can take good care of themselves, he has socio-economic stability, and it is also a sign of good health. As a matter of fact, what more could a girl want from a guy?
Naturally, you shouldn’t judge men only based on their physical aspect, but let’s face it: a lot of women do that. Just like men prefer healthy looking women with well proportioned body, pretty face, and fair complexion when looking for a mate, the same applies to women as well.
The only difference is that they are looking for other qualities. Women consider men with a muscular body more attractive than skinny or overweight men. Although there are some women who have other preferences, in the majority of the cases women like fit men because they consider them a better mate
Teenage boys are aware of this fact and they want to impress the opposite sex, and so, they hit the gym!
Self-esteem is a very important motivation for teenagers who hit the gym. A boy with a positive self-esteem has tremendous belief in himself and continually strives to out-do his best.
He accepts his body image and seeks physical improvement only as a way of projecting who he is, and not as a means for seeking societal validation or acceptance. His quest for strength is borne of the immense belief he has in his ability to carry through the discipline and strict regime of body-building and fitness.
A negative self-esteem on the other hand has been known to push youngsters who have not accepted their own body image and who do not feel confident in their own skin to body-building, as it not only provides an escape for them but also presents an opportunity for physical improvement for them.
Boys are usually highly impressionable and vulnerable to the “crowd mentality” in their teenage years. They tend to be influenced by their peers and if the “coolest” kid on the block hits the gym and survives only on a diet of protein shakes and veggies, then they’re sure following suit. Peer pressure is a major reason teenage boys want to be bigger and stronger, since the perception of strength is usually a function of size.
Sense of Identity
It is during this stage that the male child is beginning to carve an identity for himself. It is quite important for him to protect this identity of his.
Just as it applies in the animal kingdom where strength is the ultimate backing for identity, the instinctive craving for identity drives him to strengthen his physique and broaden his frame as he strides along the streets, thereby creating a perception of a strong and confident personality.
Educational psychologists posit that the strict regimen and routine associated with body-building activities give the teenage male a sense of structure which is important to his overall mental health and development.
Some even argue that the attraction to growing a stronger and larger body is innate. This activity presents an opportunity for setting a tangible set of measurable short term goals, whose achievement creates a sense of self-belief and confidence.
Gym is fun:
Have you ever been to the gym? I have, and I can assure you it is fun. It is a place where peers with similar physical goals can meet and interact.
The feeling of camaraderie that exists in a gym environment is a strong magnet for teenagers and young adults alike.
Right there in the gym, the boy gets to meet people who have achieved his set fitness goals and he is able to access fitness tips.
He doesn’t need to visit the cover of any fitness magazine or look to images of his idol, right in his local gym; his idea of a perfect body is personified.
So, if you are a parent or guardian and you wonder why your teenage son or ward spends more time in the gymnasium than he spends in the library, wonder no more.
This also accounts why many are now more concern about healthy foods and fitness. It is a phase that will pass – or not.