Posted by: Tom | 2009/02/08

Weight training at a young age

Ive noticed a lot of people say that you should start weight training until you are fully grown, why is this? On the other hand there are other people who encourage it and say it is perfectly safe. I have been lifting weights at the gym since I was 14 and Im now 16 and the various gym instructors have encouraged it I have also noticed that younger children have been lifting weights obviously nothing major and not exactly doing forced reps or lifting really heavy weights just lifting a weight that is fairly easy for a child and absolutly nothing for someone of my age and strength, so I think the question here is, is it safe or not?

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Our expert says:
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Hi Tom

It can be a problem for young children to lift because they often do so with poor technique and lift heavier weights than their skeletons are capable of. Both of these factors combined leads to increased injury risk. That's the main concern. There is this theory of stunted growth, but I'm not sure that's a concern unless the child is training incredibly hard - think of gymnasts in the Communist countries for an idea of what incredibly hard means.

So given that the danger is technique and heavy weights, the answer is that a teenager can lift, but they must go lighter, and they must focus on technique and getting it right. Then it can actually be helpful. I'd question the motivation for wanting to lift heavy weights to begin with - you're growing anyway, and so any work you do will have an effect. So rather take things a little slower and let progress happen more gradually.

Good luck

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