At What Age Did You Start Exercising and Why?

March 1st, 2011 Posted in Question of the Week 16 Comments »

This post was written back in 2008, but the poll didn’t get many votes and the post didn’t get any comments. Now that Project Swole has much more traffic and somewhat of a loyal community, I went and rewrote some of this piece and I’m re-posting it today so that we can get more comments and votes. I think it will be an interesting study into the training background of most Swole readers.

When and why did you first learn about exercising?

Question of the Week

We all know how beneficial exercise is to maintaining a healthy body. Kids don’t usually know this and teenagers don’t usually care. Typically it is up to parents and schools to educate kids about exercise and nutrition, ’cause quite frankly they aren’t very likely to do it themselves.

I learned about exercising in junior high school when some of my friends started curling and bench pressing to build the “show muscles” for the girls. I even did some curling and bench pressing myself, but not more than a couple times a week, and I didn’t build any significant muscle mass. My real education in weight training came in high school… I’ll talk about that more below.


When Did You Start Exercising for Reals?

Strong Baby
Strong Baby

What I want to know is, at what age did you start exercising and why did you start exercising? I don’t mean at age 6 when your parents enrolled you in little league or mighty mites soccer. Nor do I mean that time you tried out for basketball in 6th grade and ran a couple wind sprints in practice? I mean, when did you really make an effort to start training your body for a specific reason on your own? High school? College? Mid-life? When?

[poll id="5"]

Why Did You Start Exercising?

There are a million reasons why someone might start a serious fitness routine. It could be sports, it could be peer pressure, it could be to attract the opposite sex, perhaps you want to slow down the aging process, or did an injury force you to start exercising?

Did you lift weights for football, lacrosse, or hockey in high school?

As a kid, did you start training outside of Karate class so that you could be faster and stronger than the rest of the kids in the class?

Perhaps you started walking, jogging, or running for the first time ever at age 45 because you grew tired of the spare tire?

My Story: The Beginning

For me, it was when I was 16. From age 12 or so I messed around with weights in my dad’s garage, doing bench presses and curls of course. When I turned 16 and got my license, I got a membership to Worlds Gym in Plaistow, NH and started doing… lots more bench presses and curls… but that’s not the point. That membership lead me to examine the ways in which I could really start to fill out my clothes develop increased muscle size and definition all over my body.

By age 17 I had learned how to train my full body. I was using a small variety of exercises including:

  • leg presses
  • stiff leg deadlifts
  • bench presses
  • lat pull downs
  • triceps push downs
  • curls
  • crunches

Around this time I investigated a crazy program by some professional bodybuilder that included 2 workouts per day, 6 days per week. I attempted to follow the program for several months, but ended up overtraining, seeing minimal gains, and getting burnt out. In desperation I finally asked the resident personal trainer Ted for advice.

Ted the Personal Trainer

He scoffed at the crazy program I was trying to follow, muttering something about professional bodybuilding, steroids, and overtraining. When I returned a gaze of complete bewilderment, he sighed and brought me out onto the floor for a bit of tutoring.

Ted put me on a 4 day split, training 2 or 3 muscles per day, and emphasized proper form, proper weight progression, proper nutrition, and proper supplementation. Ted introduced me to barbell squats, creatine, protein shakes, and enlightened me with the knowledge that I can construct millions of different workout programs using the most basic of exercises. Something similar to the Werewolf Training routine here at Project Swole, only with far less muscle confusion.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Why I Started Training

Football Girl
Football Girl

I have one word for you… girls. My build was what I would now call ‘skinny-fat’. I still had a layer of baby fat, nasty love handles, a slight double chin, and tiny ass arms. My hair was long, I had acne, and quite frankly, girls were scared of me.

In order to fix what I thought was broken, I decided at age 16 that I would go on meds for the acne (thank you Accutane), cut my hair, lose some weight, and pad my bones with sculpted muscles. I had hoped that doing this would land me a girlfriend. Well guess what? I was right!

Before I graduated high school I dropped about 40 pounds of fat and gained about 20 pounds of muscle. I scored myself two girlfriends (not at the same time), started to make friends with some of the kids in my class, and eventually by senior year I had somewhat of a normal social life. Thank you Ted, thank you Worlds Gym, and thank you free weights!

What is Your Story?

So, what is your story? When did you start? Why did you start? How did you start? What were your results?

Let everyone know by voting and leaving a comment below. If you have a website detailing your fitness routine, be sure to leave us a link so we all can check it out.

If you haven’t started exercising yet, but realize that you need to, feel free to try some of the Project Swole workout routines, or check out the hugely popular P90X home workout routine. You will thank me later if you get started today.

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16 Responses to “At What Age Did You Start Exercising and Why?”

  1. Chris says:

    I started out training in distance running in 8th or 9th grade as my mom was very in to road racing at the time and I tried it as well. I was too un-coordinated to make the basketball team or soccer team so I ran all three seasons of track. In that I obviously did distance running and did a minimal amount of weight lifting. During college and after I continued to do distance running regularly basically just to fend off the spare tire. Right around age 30 I decided that I wanted to get in the gym and build some muscle. I figured if I didn’t start now it was only going to get more difficult later on. I went about it all wrong and without any direction and ended up hurting myself pretty badly in my shoulders. After taking a year off I decided it was time to do it right. I got with a trainer who put me on a 3 day a week lifting plan and who showed me how to actually have good form. After about 6 months of that I had pretty good success. At that point is when I first found your site and ended up doing your full body routine. After another 6 months or so I saw your werewolf bulking routine come out and did that for a while with great results! For the past year or so I’ve been in the gym 3 days a week with 2 days a week of cardio or HIIT between them, but have been lazy about the nutrition.

    Wish me luck as I attack the fat and get rid of about 20 lbs of fat while trying to maintain what I got on the werewolf workout. I’ll probably go back to the werewolf routine once I attain this goal and try for even more size and strength.

    I did attain one of my main goals, which was to work out on 225 bench (I know, it’s not as meaningful as when I hit 305 on squats, but…). I hit it 3 times on the top of a 5 set pyramid the other day. Horray!

    Good site. Keep it coming!

    • Steve says:

      Hey great story! What are you going to use for your fat burning workout? Remember no matter how much cardio you do, keep lifting heavy with 3-5 rep sets on compound exercises if you want to keep all of your muscle. My fat loss routine seems to work pretty well, and I know combining 3 heavy full body workouts with some P90X on off days, would really burn some fat and maintain some muscle. Diet is most important. Do it right man and you’ll be ripped.

  2. noooooooo says:

    very gay post… no more on this. how about a revamped routine instead of this crap. thank you

  3. Jack says:

    Well when I finished 8th grade my parents got us gym memberships at the YMCA ( mostly for the pool) and planned on doing that for at least a summer. I decided I wanted to join the JV football team and was usually bored so I got into this middle-high school sport training thing for a couple months and that kinda got me knocked into shape so that I could at least make the team. Up until then I was a 5 foot 6 weird looking had oily face, mild fat, and no visible muscles. I worked out with the football team and then did some machines and free weights in the gym ( I had good form but no routine). After the Football season was over I felt like I wanted to make it big next yr and be able to shift some meat around, and look good for high school and I started looking for succesful programs online and your WW mass gaining looked sweet. I did that for 3 cycles and now am doing the strength. (today Im testing my bench max) I have seen great results and can bench 155 ( That was two weeks ago, Today im shooting for 160) and can squat 305. Im stronger than most all my friends and have 5 pack ( SO close to the magic 6, but just cant seem to get there even though I am a REALLY strict dieter. I guess time will tell) Thanks man your site has changed my life!

  4. Randy says:

    After several false starts working out at home, and talking about joining a gym for several years, my wife and I both started working out for real about 1 1/2 years ago. We’re both in our 50′s and we’re both now in the best shape we’ve ever been in. We eat well and have active jobs so weight has never been an issue. However, general fitness and conditioning has been and we wanted to do something about it…we aren’t getting any younger.

    When I started, a trainer set me up with a program on various machines, and, after realizing I was going to stick to it this time, began researching weightlifting programs which led me to Swole…among other valuable sites. My current program is a 5X5 learned from another site…compound barbell excercises with a few bodyweight excercises. Now that I’m up in weight it kicks my butt, but I love it.

  5. Steven Kirk says:

    i just spent bout 30minutes typing my memoirs but i don’t see them in the comment box lol oh well, i tried

  6. Byrin says:

    I’ve always been active: Karate when I was 6, Tae Kwon Doe when I was 12, then basketball, volleyball, and track + field during high school, only to abandoned those to pursue footbag for 7 years to compete internationally. Unfortunately that came to an end with injuries, and when I was 22 decided to *seriously* get into weight lifting as a different means to stay active. I did workouts before (starting when I was in Karate), but this is the time where I dedicated myself to learn more on the whys and hows of working out. I was 150lbs when I started.

    I found this website, read and reread every article concerning training, exercises, and dieting and am now 185lbs with less than 11% body fat. I plan on competing in my first bodybuilding competition in June.

    Thanks Steve.

  7. Todd says:

    While I had my first weight bench when I was 14, I didn’t really start training until I was a Sophomore in high school. When I began playing football, that’s when the bug stuck, and I hit the weights hard. My best friend was an aspiring bodybuilder, so that added fuel to the fire.

    My senior year I added a lot of muscle, trimmed a bit of fat, and got pretty strong. We lived in a small town, so when the guys from the class ahead of us came back from playing college ball, they showed us how they were training at the universities. That was gold.

  8. Bryan says:

    I did the typical teenager thing during my high school years and dicked around while in weight class. Only recently ( a little over a year ago ) did I start getting into real fitness, weight lifting, and well everything else health related.

    What got me started was my marriage was going through tough times and doubts were setting in. Neither of us said anything to each other for about 3 months. That’s when I decided to start getting into shape, partially for myself, and partially to get more attractive for her as well. ( we both put on about 40 pounds of fat after having 3 kids. ) I went from running as much as I could every night to mixing cardio and weight lifting every night. Then I joined a gym and started weight lifting and circuit training since they had just about every machine. Then I started to research more about nutrition and changing my eating habits. That’s how I found this site, the search for the best bicep/tricep/back/abs/whatever exercises came back to yours everytime. (Your site was top of the list, so keep the lists coming!)

    I lost 50 lbs in < months time by just doing the right thing and discipline. Since then, my marriage is better than ever (we both are now healthy and are in the last stages of losing the small amount of fat left on our bodies!) Thanks to this site and many other blogs out there. Ha, funny thing, the personal trainer at the gym that I used to go to (I am building my home gym now!) was so over priced and didn't want to answer basic questions. Because of him, in a way, I started doing my own research to find proper form, good etiquette, and how to maximize my goals. The site I added on this post is now my project to keep myself motivated and involved with my fitness and will hopefully help other people like myself when I was in the dumps.

    Steve, thanks for doing what you have done, and keep it all coming.*update with the website*

    • Steve says:

      Awesome story Bryan. You have evolved from sedentary to healthy and active. Keep up the great work and let us know how it goes in time.

  9. Hey STeve, I started in high school in their weight room to get strong for Basketball and softball. My softball coach was the powerlifting coach so he made us do it! After I graduated from high school I got a gym membership – just for fun I guess. I was done playing sports and didn’t want to lose my edge!

  10. Lyka Ricks says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for instilling the Importance of Fitness. I may say that from now on i’m gonna start my exercise. i an on diet but seems there’s a slow process on the changes i want.

  11. As i remember i started exercising regularly since I was in my school years. From then i think my body became used to it and it became a habit to me but I not until my senior year. During those days i gain weight and it really bothered me. However when I graduated and started my college, it is when i started exercising again and eat proper foods and thank God i had my figure back.:)

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