Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Recently, a young teenager asked me the question "Will lifting weights stunt my growth"?
I have heard this myth numerous times so I thought I would blog about it...
The concept that lifting weights can damage a child’s growth plate, (stunting their growth) is completely false! The evidence is clear... It is absolutely safe for kids to start lifting weights early in life, provided they do so under a well-designed, supervised program. A well designed strength training program is actually extremely beneficial for children because it will teach them how to lift without straining developing muscles.
The goal is simple, increase strength and prevent injuries.
Developing functional strength, and teaching complex movements, will prepare children for the demands of training and competition. Furthermore, strength training actually reduces the chances of a child getting injured playing a sport. According to a meta-analysis in Current Sports Medicine Reports, mere sports training isn’t enough for kids to make the neuromuscular gains they need to prevent injury and promote lifelong health.
Once a child can perform the basic movement of a bench press, squat, and deadlift correctly, they have earned the right to progress to adding weights. Resistance training can protect against injury and help nonathletic children develop “physical literacy” to offset their sedentary lifestyles, according to a 2017 study published in Sports Health.
So how young is too young?
Most children are ready to begin building strength by 7 or 8 years old. The only real concern is whether a child is emotionally ready for training. Children must be able to properly follow instruction before they can start a training program.
Strength training can be in the form of frog squats, bunny hops, hermit crab touches, and bear crawls—moves that are fun and solely intended to get kids moving in all different directions, starting to build up muscle naturally.
If your child is ready for sports, they are ready for strength training.
Why earlier is better
Strength training develops the muscles and the underlying neuromuscular system to enhance a child’s ability to run, jump, hop, and skip.
Strength is a prerequisite for every movement.
Strength training has a long-term effect on a child's development... Inactive kids become inactive teens, and then inactive adults, research also shows.
Neurological, Musculoskeletal, and Psychological
BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE RISKS
Of course, there are risks associated with all types of physical activity. But research shows well-devised and supervised strength training programs actually cause fewer injuries than general sports.
If you want to get your child started on a physical activity program, contact
The Fitness Doctor!