It is a well-known fact that weight training has a variety of health benefits. It has long been assumed that the benefits of lifting weights are not extended to children. Many parents, for instance, warn their child against participating in weight training out of a fear that doing so will stunt their growth. This may have been justified by citing claims that boys do not have sufficient testosterone levels to engage in vigorous exercise or that lifting weights will damage their growth plates. These claims, however, have been disproven for decades.¹
In a review investigating the effects of weight training on growth, 9 studies including weight-trained children with an average age as young as 8.2 years old and as old as 12.6 years old demonstrated similar growth to their non-weight lifting counterparts.¹ Evidence suggests that weight training is even beneficial for children.² Weight trained children have a decreased risk of obesity, hypertension, and osteoporosis, higher levels of high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol, and improved mental health.² As an added benefit, physically active children tend to grow up to become physically active adults.³
That being said, it is important to pair your child with a competent personal trainer in order to maximize the benefits of weight training and minimize their risk of injury. What are some other myths that you have heard about weight training?
Malina, R. M. (2006). Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: An evidence-based review. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 16(6), 478–487. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.jsm.0000248843.31874.be
Myers, L., Strikmiller, P. K., Webber, L. S., & Berenson, G. S. (1996). Physical and sedentary activity in school children grades 5-8: The Bogalusa Heart Study. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 28(7), 852–859. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-199607000-00012
Sallis, J. F., & Patrick, K. (1994). Physical activity guidelines for adolescents: Consensus statement. Pediatric Exercise Science, 6(4), 302–314. https://doi.org/10.1123/pes.6.4.302