Does weight training stunt growth?

The fitness world is awash with half-truths and misinformation, with the myths surrounding bodybuilding tending to be particularly persistent. So perhaps it’s not so surprising to hear that the lingering notion that weight training stunts your growth actually carries very little weight.

If you’re a teenager in your crucial developmental years or a parent with a teenager, this idea might be concerning. But strength training brings many benefits, such as increased strength and improved mental health, regardless of your age.

So we asked sports expert and fitness trainer Dr Folusha Oluwajana and Dr Sarah Davies of Panacea Health to help us clarify where this myth is coming from, where it is leading us wrong and the things you should really be careful when weight training as you grow.

woman in gym holding kettlebell
Bodybuilding: “the idea that bodybuilding slows down your growth carries very little weight”

Does strength training stunt growth?

DR FOLUSHA OLUWAJANA:

“This is a common question and often cause for concern, especially for parents whose children may want to participate in strength training. The truth is that there is no scientific evidence to show that strength training affects growth. This myth probably stems from the fact that injury to the growth plates at the ends of growing bones can affect bone growth, however, weight training itself does not directly damage the growth plates.

DR SARAH DAVIES:

“Although there have been retrospective case reports of growth plate injury during preadolescence and adolescence due to repetitive overloading, most of these injuries were due to improper lifting techniques, maximum lifts or lack of qualified adult supervision. Notably, this type of growth plate injury has not been reported in any prospective research studies of youth resistance training and there is no evidence that resistance training negatively impacts growth. and maturation during childhood and adolescence.

Can strength training promote healthy development?

DR FOLUSHA OLUWAJANA:

“Strength training actually has several benefits for young people during their development, such as increasing bone and muscle strength, reducing the risk of fracture and injury, as well as boosting self-esteem and trust.”

DR SARAH DAVIES:

“Resistance training can provide remarkable benefits to children and adolescents when properly prescribed and supervised. There is a risk of musculoskeletal injury, although this is no greater than many other sports and recreational activities that children and young people regularly participate in. In fact, resistance training and weight lifting have been shown in adolescents to actually be safer than many other sports and activities. strength training is that it promotes well-being, self-esteem and interest in healthy living.

What precautions should be taken when doing strength training during the developmental years?

DR FOLUSHA OLUWAJANA:

“The key to avoiding damage to the growth plates during the developmental years – or avoiding any injury for that matter – is to train safely. Avoid overdoing it by using too heavy weights or not taking long enough to recover. Emphasis should be on form and technique rather than weight lifted. Good coaching is also essential. It may be beneficial to involve a trainer who has experience with adolescents to provide supervision and develop a training program tailored to the individual needs and abilities of the young person.

DR SARAH DAVIES:

“It is possible that injuries or illnesses occur if the intensity, volume or frequency of training exceeds the youngster’s abilities. This can be avoided by gradually increasing the demand on the muscles, building the muscles’ ability to meet that demand over a reasonable period of time.

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