The Truth About Lifting Weights: Does It Stunt Your Teen’s Growth?
Think your teen is too young to lift weights? It’s a common concern for many parents—does lifting weights stunt your teen’s growth? The truth is, there’s no evidence to support this claim. Lifting weights can actually have some benefits for teens. It can help keep bones strong and promote healthy development. Still in doubt? Here’s what you need to know.
So, where did this rumour come from?
The teen years are a time of a lot of changes in the body. It’s no wonder, then, that there are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding this period of development. One such myth is that lifting weights can stunt growth. This misconception is probably based on the fact that teen athletes can sometimes damage their growth plates if they engage in a resistance or strength training programme without proper supervision. However, this is more likely to happen if they use poor form or lift weights that are too heavy.
If kids lift weights correctly, there is no evidence that it will stunt their growth. In fact, a 2006 study suggests that lifting weights is relatively safe and does not negatively impact the growth and maturation of pre- and early-pubertal youth. So if your teen wants to lift weights, as long as they do it safely and under supervision, there’s no need to worry about stunting their growth.
Weightlifting can actually be beneficial.
There’s no denying that teen bodies are going through some significant changes. So it’s understandable that parents might be hesitant about their teens starting to lift weights. But the truth is, weightlifting can actually be beneficial for teen health in a number of ways.
There are some definite benefits to lifting weights. For one thing, it can help your teen build muscles and strength. This can improve their appearance and make them feel more confident. It can also help them excel in sports or other physical activities. And because it’s an activity that can be done with others, it can be an excellent way for your teen to socialise and make new friends.
According to a 2017 study, proper resistance training programmes provide a lot of benefits, including:
- increased strength
- lower rates of sports-related injuries
- increased bone strength index (BSI)
- decreased risk of fracture
- improved self-esteem and interest in fitness
How young is too young?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when a teen is ready to start lifting weights. Just because your teen is a certain age doesn’t mean they’re automatically ready to start pumping iron. A 2009 study concluded that there is no minimum age requirement for children to begin strength training. However, the child must be able to follow directions, have adequate balance, and demonstrate proprioception (also called kinesthesia, the ability of the body to sense its position, movement, and actions). Generally, this occurs between the ages of 7 and 8. A qualified medical professional should perform a pre-participation physical exam on children before they begin a programme. Some children are not eligible to participate for medical reasons, so screening is needed.
In a nutshell, it depends on a number of factors, including the teen’s overall health, fitness level, and motivation. A teen who is eager to start lifting weights and has a good understanding of proper form and technique is more likely to be ready than a teen who doesn’t have these things. Ultimately, it’s up to the teen and their parent or guardian to decide when the time is right to start lifting weights. And if they’re not quite ready yet, that’s OK too. There’s no rush—they can always start lifting when they’re a bit older and more developmentally ready. If in doubt, consult with a doctor or certified personal trainer.
How to make it safe for your teen
If your teen is eager to start lifting weights, work with them to create a safe and effective programme that meets their individual needs. The benefits definitely outweigh the risks if a few precautions are followed. By following these guidelines, teen weightlifters can enjoy all the benefits of this healthy activity without putting their bodies at risk:
- Supervision is key. Anyone who’s ever lifted weights knows that the risk of injury is real. Fortunately, proper technique and supervision reduce the risk of injury. So as long as your teen is supervised by a certified trainer and uses good form while lifting weights, they should be fine. Of course, this doesn’t mean that injuries never happen. Reported weight lifting injuries in children range from fractures, meniscal tears, and herniated disks to dislocations. However, these injuries are relatively rare, and most teens who lift weights do so without incident. So if your teen is interested in lifting weights, there’s no need to panic. Just make sure they’re supervised and using good form, and they should be fine. The same 2017 study cited above found that a well-designed and supervised weight-training program didn’t impair normal growth or development.
- Slow and gradual is the way to go. For children or teens, it’s essential to take it slow and build up gradually. Starting with lighter weights and higher repetitions is a better strategy than trying to lift the heaviest weights possible. In addition to preventing injuries, this will also lay the groundwork for future weightlifting success. So, tell your teen to take it slow, focus on form, and enjoy the journey to becoming a lifting legend!
- Lift free weights. Machines may be tempting, but they’re not made for kids. Your teen can better mimic sports movements with free weights. And trust me, you want your teen to be prepared for real-life athletics – not just the gym. Plus, using free weights will help your teen build muscle and improve coordination. So next time you’re at the gym, skip the machines and focus on the free weights. Your teen will thank you later.
- Tone down the bulking. While some teen lifters may be eager to bulk up, this isn’t necessarily the best goal for children who are lifting weights. A majority of the benefits that a child will get from weightlifting will be neuromuscular, which means it will help them develop coordination and balance. In other words, they’ll improve their coordination and refine their technique rather than add 20 inches to their biceps. When you’re a kid, there’s no advantage to being a bodybuilder—but there’s a huge one to being a fierce competitor on the field. So, your teen athlete should focus on developing their coordination and balance and leave the bodybuilding to the adults.
So, there you have it. Does lifting weights stunt your teen’s growth? The answer is a resounding no. As we mentioned earlier, this rumour has been around for a long time, but it is actually unfounded. In fact, weightlifting can actually be beneficial for them – as long as it’s done safely. So what does that mean for your teen? Well, if they are interested in lifting weights, it’s important to start slowly and build up gradually. And always make sure they are supervised by a qualified coach or trainer.
Have you ever let your teen lift weights? If not, would you consider doing so now? Let us know in the comments below!