If you’re a teenager starting to train, you may have heard rumors that lifting weights can stunt your height. How much truth is there to this?
What Does Science Say?
There is no scientific research to back up the claims that weightlifting stunts growth. However, safe weightlifting can have a number of positive outcomes for teenagers.
According to Dr. Rob Raponi, a naturopathic doctor and certified sports’ nutritionist, the rumor that weights can stunt growth actually comes from the fact that injuries to growth plates can result in stunted growth. He notes that it can only happen because of poor form or lifting to heavy. And that proper lifting with proper supervision does no damage to the plates. What exactly are growth plates you may be wondering? They are cartilaginous areas of tissue found at the end of bones. When people reach physical maturity, they harden. But when they are young, they are softer and more susceptible to damage.
Weightlifting for Teenagers
Lifting weights for anyone can be dangerous, especially a younger kid. Their bodies are not completely developed and their muscles are smaller until they mature. Although most studies show that growth cannot be stunted by lifting weights, the possibility of injury should be taken into account. Proper form is something I constantly preach about. If your form is poor, even a lightweight can cause injury. A teenager with their whole life ahead of them do not need the added stress of a muscular injury. Torn muscles or thrown out body parts are serious and could cause issues for their entire lives.
Amount of weight lifted is another important factor. Beginners in the gym often think that they should be lifting more than their body can handle. Their ego takes over and they don’t want to seem weaker than others in the gym. This can cause them to use weight that is too much for them to handle, and possibly lead to injury. Education on lifting is one of the first steps teenagers should worry about before beginning their training. Start watching videos online about form and how to properly execute an exercise. Reaching out to a sports’ coach or personal trainer is also a smart idea when starting to train. This will mitigate the potential of injury.
Supervision is a huge factor that can help keep teens safe. Also, showing them how to properly use the equipment first is a good idea. Most adolescents who get hurt is due to not being supervised or not knowing how to properly use equipment. Teens can also get away with using lighter weight. They do not need to lift heavy amounts of weights to grow muscle. When first starting out, you put on a lot of muscle in a short amount of time because your muscles haven’t been put under much stress before. By using lightweight, a lot of strength and muscle gains can be made. Higher rep ranges are also advised for teenagers. There is no need for them to be attempting to max out and perform one rep maxes. This is just asking for injury. This type of training shouldn’t be attempted by rookie lifters. There is no need to place unnecessary stress on your body or risk injury. Light weights and high reps will provide plenty of gains and ensure that they are staying safe while doing so.
Adolescents can get away with just doing body weight exercises for muscle growth. These include push ups and pull ups. The benefit is that there is zero risk of injury when performing these as no weight is used. Also, when first starting to train these can provide a great workout. There are tons of different variations of push ups to target different areas of the chest and increase the intensity of the exercise. I would also advise attempting different calisthenic training for younger lifters. Calisthenics don’t require any equipment other than the persons own weight. Different variations of pull ups, dips, and planks all fall under this category. There’s many varying difficulties of each exercise too so once you’ve mastered one, you can increase the difficulty. The same way one would increase their weight on something like the bench press. Younger teenagers should attempt these training types and see what they can provide them, before even worrying about throwing in weights.
Benefits of Weightlifting for Adolescents
Improved strength that can assist in work or sports’. Having stronger arms can assist kids with their throw in baseball or spiking a volleyball. Stronger legs can help with footwork in soccer or running in track and field. Putting on some muscle can also increase young peoples confidence. Having muscle also improves the strength of joints, preventing from injuries. Not to mention, they will feel healthier and better. More muscle mass leads to increased fat loss. It can also increase appetite, helping them to eat enough food for their bodies to grow properly.
It takes a long time to see the results that you want in the gym. Anyone who has worked out knows how hard you have to work to see results that you want. It will take years of training to achieve the body that you desire. It is important to know this before beginning training. I’m not saying this to deter you, but it is something that you should be aware of. There’s no magic pill to achieving your dream physique. It will take years of hard work and eating properly as well. This is another reason why starting early is ideal. If you begin training at the age of thirteen, you can have a very impressive physique by the time you are eighteen.
What Age To Begin Strength Training
First of all, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all children aged six to seventeen should get at least sixty minutes of aerobic activity a day. They also advise three muscle strengthening sessions a week. So, even the government thinks that weight training can benefit teenagers and younger children. Again, this is with proper supervision and training of course. When done safely, weight lifting only brings positives. It is very common for children around the age of thirteen and fourteen to become interested in weightlifting for a variety of reasons. They see a cool, ripped actor on their favorite film and look up to them. They become interested and want to obtain a physique like that for themselves. This is normal and will likely happen. If you’re a parent who is worried about your child being hurt, consider hiring a coach or trainer to assist them. You can be assured that safe weight training will only bring them benefits.
What’d you think? Let me know below if you have any questions or if you learned anything!