Will Weight Training Too Young Stunt Growth?

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Question: I was told my son should not lift weights or even do exercises like push-ups before he is 16. It is said to stunt growth and over work muscles causing them to be less flexible. Is that true? How early should a kid train?
Answer: For too long the fallacy has existed that lifting weights will impede or restrict growth by causing the bone’s growth plates to close. A young man of sixteen has tremendous growth potential due to the extremely high level of testosterone being produced along with high amounts of growth hormone. With proper training and nutrition along with those raging hormones he could experience the greatest growth of his life.
Repeated clinical studies have refuted the misconception of problems with growth due to weights. Resistance training of any type places a load on the muscles, connective tissues and skeletal structure that produces growth, strength and increased density in all of the above. In younger athletes though, make sure the training is fun and challenging. Keep it moderate in duration and not at maximum load levels. Use multiple joint exercises as the core of the routine and not as much from isolation exercises. The training needs to affect both the muscles and nerves communication with the muscles teaching groups of muscles to work together. Use exercises that will translate easily to the playing field.
With athletes under 12, begin with core strengthening exercises that use bodyweight as resistance instead of just getting in the gym. You can have them do push-ups, pull-ups, squats and lunges. Work on jumping by literally jumping on blocks or benches. Train both jumping on a box and jumping off the box and dropping into a squat. Teaching a child, both boys and girls, to train and how enjoyable and beneficial it is is an invaluable lesson that will assist them throughout their lives.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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