We have all heard people say that weight training or high-level resistance training is not safe for kids or teens as it can stunt their growth. Is this a myth or a fact?
A 2010 systematic review states that weight training before puberty has not been shown to stunt growth or damage the growth plates.
In fact, there’s overwhelming evidence that resistance and weight training during pre-puberty strengthens muscles and increases the size of bones. Children who start training while they are still growing therefore have an advantage over those who training after puberty.
The three-time Olympic gold Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu is probably the greatest weightlifter who has ever lived, and he started lifting weights when he was only 8 years old.
Our personal comment: The biggest danger of starting kids with high-level competitive athletics is not physical but mental. Children are sometimes unfortunately subjected to unreasonable coaches and inconsiderate parents who place excessive pressures on them, which often lead to burnout.
Reference: Behringer M, et al. Effects of resistance training in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis pediatrics. 2010 Nov; 126 (5): e 1199-210.