Question: I'm 14 years old and 6'1" tall. I want to know if it's possible for my muscles to get bigger at my age. Also, do you have any tips on how to gain muscle mass without bench pressing?
– Patrick (New Jersey, USA)
Answer: Hi Patrick. Judging by your height, I think it's safe to assume you've already hit puberty. Therefore, it is very possible to significantly increase your muscle mass at your age.
While you won't be able to add as much muscle as, say, a 17 year old could, you can certainly build up an impressive base.
It's imperative that you focus on the basics at your age, so as to teach yourself good training habits. This includes learning and consistently using proper exercise technique, focusing on compound exercises and getting progressively stronger, among other things.
Read how to gain muscle mass for a full explanation on building muscle by consistently applying a few basic principles.
Now, let's move on to your question about bench pressing...
...The bench press is great exercise. But it is, by no means, a requirement for building muscle. There are other exercises that work the same muscle groups...
My favorite bench press alternative is the dip exercise. But there are other movements, such as push ups, including many push up variations.
The dumbbell pullover may also be another option to consider, but I wouldn't recommend making it a major part of your routine because it isolates the chest more than the previously mentioned exercises.
At your age and experience level, the last thing you want to do is put too much emphasis on isolation work.
Plus, the chest is also worked indirectly in major compound exercises, such as the overhead press, clean and presses, deadlifts and even squats, to an extent.
It's possible to never do any chest-focused exercises and still be a beast (and still have a muscular chest). Don't believe me? Just look at some of the Olympic weightlifters out there, like Maosheng Le.