Fact or Fiction: Does weight lifting stunt growth in adolescents?

Published: 23 Mar 2021

Fact or Fiction: Does weight lifting stunt growth in adolescents?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Quite often we hear that the growing adolescent should not be lifting weights as this can stunt their growth, but is this really true? Today we will explore the evidence surrounding this topic.

Where could this idea come from?

There has been reported injuries in the literature, however most of the injuries sustained by adolescent weight lifters are generally due to:

  • Poor training technique
  • Excessive loading – weights are too heavy
  • Lack of supervision

What does the research actually say?

The research concludes that strength training in a controlled, supervised environment, is a safe and effective strategy to increase strength in adolescents. Research also found that as long as the individual adheres to safe training guidelines and uses proper lifting techniques, weight lifting does not negatively affect adolescents.

What are the benefits of lifting weights?

There are a variety of benefits related to weight lifting which includes:

  • Increase in strength
  • Increase in bone density
  • Improved self esteem
  • Weight management
  • Improved motor control skills

Adolescents can safely participate in weight lifting.

Safe Training Guideline

This guideline should be followed when developing a weight lifting program to avoid injury in adolescents.

  • Have a 5-10 minute warm up and cool down
  • Do aerobic exercises for cardiovascular fitness
  • When learning a new exercise, focus on learning the technique with no weights
  • Perform exercises which target large and small muscle groups
  • Avoid maximal lifts
  • Use machines and free weights
  • Increase weights by 5-10% as strength increases
  • Perform 2-3 exercises per muscle group
  • Train 2-3 times a week on non-consecutive days
  • Before increasing weights, make sure you can do 10 reps and have good form
  • Have 1–3 minutes of rest in between sets
  • Never use anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing substances

If you want to start going to the gym and lifting weights or you have an adolescent that wants to start but is unsure about how to approach it, come and see one of our friendly physiotherapy staff for some advice.