Weight lifting is an extremely important part to any fitness program and one of the biggest myths about it is that it stunts the growth of children/teens, so this can be concerning for young athletes and their parents. Although many studies “suggest” that weightlifting may stunt or inhibit growth none have ever been able to prove it…
Where The Myth Comes From
All children and adolescents (a teenager) have epiphyseal plates, otherwise known as growth plates and these plates are responsible for the growth, length & shape of bones. The plates are found at the end of the bones where the cartilage is and while the child/adolescents develop the bones divide/regenerate, helping form new bones in the process. Once you reach your full height the bones will harden.
The only way that you’ll stunt your growth is by damaging your growth plates (the growth plates are the last part of the bones to harden making it vulnerable to fractures) and the only way you’ll damage your growth plates is by fracturing your bones severely. How do bone fractures happen ? Most bone fractures in children happen when they are working out by themselves with no supervision. Think about it… if the child knows barely anything about weight lifting it is very likely that they’ll use a weight way to heavy for themselves to handle and have terrible form/technique when trying to perform the exercise. These 2 problems combined will cause anyone to injure themselves no matter how old the person doing the exercise is.
Here’s a video showing exactly what could happen without proper supervision (turn your volume down because he starts screaming for help):
Seriously it may not seem like it, but weight lifting is probably one of the safest sports to do when done correctly and if you want to lift weights without fracturing your bones the 3 most important aspects when training as a child are:
Supervision – Workout in a supervised area with qualified trainers and therapists, so that you can have someone that knows how to properly spot you when doing more dangerous exercises like the squats or bench press.
Exercise Technique – Perfecting your technique/form when doing any movement is extremely important because without good form you can’t put any weight on the barbell and it becomes very hard to make progress.
Warm Ups – Warming up before any kind of exercise helps prevent injury because it prepares the body by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints/increase blood flow to the muscles. It is also very important to do 1-3 warm up sets because it prepares the muscles for physical activity, so always start with an empty barbell.
Debunking The Myth
Weight lifting actually strengthens the bones and muscles which decreases the chance of you getting injured in other physical activities, but it doesn’t only give you physical benefits. It also gives you mental benefits because it builds character, confidence, self control and persistence which sets the trend for you to live a healthy & fulfilling life.
Here like Arnold Schwarzenegger he started bodybuilding at the age of 15 and he grow up to be 6 foot 2 inches tall !
To conclude weight lifting does not stunt or inhibit your growth and it may actually be even more effective than other forms of exercise in promoting bone growth/density among children. In fact weight lifting will also increase your testosterone and having more testosterone may allow you to grow taller than you would without such exercise. So as long as you follow the 3 rules: have someone qualified supervising you, perfect your form and always warm up properly then you’ll have no problems weight lifting at any age.
If you have anymore questions about this topic then please feel free to leave a comment down below.