Does Lifting Weights At A Young Age Stunt Your Growth?

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March 28, 2024 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant

The fitness industry is full of myths and half-truths that many twist for their own benefit, regardless of what the actual studies and experts have to say. One question that often arises regarding weightlifting is whether or not it truly stuns the growth of young athletes. 

Many parents of children under the age of 18 are often worried if their kids are strength training at the gym, as they’re worried that this might stunt the growth of the child, while for many years, it was believed that there’s a correlation between lifting heavy and stunt of growth, the science has something else to say now. 

Does Lifting Weights At A Young Age Stunt Your Growth

Does Lifting Weights Impact the Growth of Your Child Negatively?

The myth that children will stop growing if they lift weights from a young age is not backed by any scientific research or evidence. There’s no need to worry about your son or daughter’s growth if they want to train for Olympic weightlifting or simply enjoy strength training at the gym. 

In fact, evidence suggests that a well-designed and supervised training program can have plenty of benefits for kids, including: 

  • improving bone strength index
  • increasing overall strength
  • decreasing the chance of fractures or sports-related injuries 
  • better self-esteem

Lifting weights 3-4 times per week can be incredibly beneficial for all young adults, even if they’re already training in a different sport. Along with that, if a child is training from a young age, it learns to enjoy the process and is likely to live a more active and healthy lifestyle as an adult. As trainers suggest, it is worth taking care of the appropriate equipment that will provide protection against injury and improve results. Among the basic equipment for lifting, it is recommended to purchase: knee sleeves, chalk, straps, etc. As your training progresses and you lift more weight, this list can be supplemented.

Why Do So Many People Believe Weightlifting Stunts Growth? 

It’s hard to determine when and why this fitness myth gained popularity, but our best guess is that it’s due to concern that kids will cause damage to their growth plates if they participate in a strength training program or just lift heavy regularly. According to specialists, this misconception might come from the fact that any injury to the growth plates in immature or underdeveloped bones can stunt growth. 

However, it’s key to point out that this might occur only if the child is lifting weights that are too heavy, doing it with poor form, or just simply training without supervision. If everything is done correctly and the training sessions are monitored by a professional, the results won’t lead to a stung of growth. 

It’s also interesting to note that even though participation in any kind of sport or recreational activity carries a risk of injury, this myth only exists in relation to weightlifting and not sports like basketball or tennis. Even though, on average, about 15 to 30 percent of all childhood fractures tend to involve the growth plates. 

What are the Growth Plates? 

The growth plates are cartilaginous areas of growing tissue that are found at the ends of long bones (like the thigh one, for example). Over time, these plates turn into hardened bone, typically when a young person’s body reaches physical maturity; however, during development, they are softer and more susceptible to damage. 

Having said that, just because growth plates can be damaged, that doesn’t automatically mean young adults and children should avoid lifting weights at all costs. Most medical professionals share the belief that weightlifting for kids under 18 is completely safe as long as it’s done with proper supervision. 

How to Ensure Your Child Is Training Safely

As a parent, the best thing you can do is ensure that your child learns to work out safely instead of banning them from the gym or not allowing them to train. If we have to narrow it down, here are the three things you must do if you want to be certain your child is doing weightlifting safely: 

  • Have proper supervision: For young adults and kids, it’s important that they’re supervised by a certified trainer, especially at the beginning. Make sure that’s not just any self-proclaimed coach from the internet, but rather an educated coach who has the needed knowledge to guide your kid safely. 
  • Make it fun and take it slow: Don’t push your kids to train too heavily or too early – the process needs to be enjoyable for them, and it has to be something they like doing frequently. It’s a good idea to make it fun for them – either by incorporating games or mini-competitions. 
  • Consult with a doctor prior to starting: If you have any concerns either due to past injuries or other medical problems, your child might have experienced or is experiencing, make sure to consult with your pediatrician or primary doctor before involving them in a weightlifting program. 

In Conclusion

We’ve dismantled the myth about weightlifting and growth stunts when it comes to children, but keep in mind that all sports have to be done in moderation and with proper supervision in order to ensure a lack of injuries and actual benefits for the kids.

About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)

The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …