Will weightlifting stunt my teenager’s growth?
This is a common concern amongst parents. Perhaps you have a teenager who is eager to join a gym and you are wondering: What is the right age to start? Will they be safe?
One explanation for this misconception around lifting weights is because injuries to growth plates in immature bones can stunt growth, and there is an assumption that lifting weights is a high risk activity for injury to growth plates. This is not true.
Injury to growth plates is typically caused by high impact injuries (e.g. a car crash, nasty fall, breaking bones). Some contact sports have a higher risk of injury to growth plates for obvious reasons. But high impact injuries are typically not sustained in the gym. The more common injuries you would see in a gym environment include from dropping weights (e.g. toes & fingers), or soft tissue injuries (such as muscle strain or tear). More serious injuries can occur (especially to the spine such as herniating a disc) if a person lifts weight that is too heavy, or with poor mechanics.
Before you let your teen loose at the gym, there are some ways to ensure their safety.
Professional supervision (always!)
When left to their own devices, young people too often focus on lifting heavy loads with poor technique. They attempt to max out and impress their mates, but this leaves them at risk of muscle strain, back injury and joint issues.
The best option for your adolescent is to work with an experienced coach that specialises in training teens. They can provide age-appropriate exercises and guidance on proper form and technique.
It’s important that young people who are new to strength training, begin with light weights and progress slowly. This allows their body to adapt to the movement and develop correct form. Once they are consistently moving with good mechanics, then it is appropriate to increase the load/resistance in small, manageable increments.
If your teen is experiencing pain, discomfort, or extreme fatigue, it may be a sign they are pushing too hard, not allowing enough recovery time, or using improper form. Always err on the side of caution.
Proper form is critical to prevent injuries. Encourage your teen to work with a coach to perform exercises correctly, emphasising the importance of maintaining good posture and using controlled movements.
Now that you’re armed with the tools to keep your teen safe at the gym, they can experience the numerous benefits from strength training or weight lifting. When done correctly, lifting weights will improve bone health, increase muscle strength, boost metabolism and improve physical performance in teenagers.
At Fitter Futures, our teens receive expert supervision so they are set up for a lifetime of correct form and progressive intensity. They will train safely under the guidance of our experienced coaches to build stronger, fitter bodies with improved stability, mobility and performance. Book a FREE Youth Trial.