We get a lot of inquiries regarding young people training with weights. Parents ask whether it is harmful or beneficial to be training with weights when their kids are teenagers.

First, my disclaimer. I’m not an MD and I don’t dispense medical advice. What I can tell you is that the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend strength training for pre-adolescents and adolescents. Also, the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine says, “In addition to enhancing motor skills and sports performance, regular participation in a youth resistance training program has the potential to positively influence several measurable health indexes. It helps strengthen bone, facilitate weight control, enhance psychosocial well-being, and improve one’s cardiovascular risk profile. Furthermore, a stronger musculoskeletal system will enable boys and girls to perform life’s daily activities with more energy and vigor and may increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports-related injuries.”

Strength training for youth had a shadow cast over it by claims it could possibly cause stunted growth in children. But various studies have failed to find the proverbial ‘smoking gun’. Where is the kid with 6 foot tall brothers who is 4′ 10″ only because he lifted weights when he was 12? Apparently he does not exist despite the fact that millions of junior high school kids lift weights. More on this subject is available from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

For my part, I have always enjoyed the fact that there is no “opposing view” on the subject of adult exercise. There is no party that says, “Avoid exercise because it’s really bad for your health.” Nobody. It is a rare case of 100% medical agreement that exercise in general and strength training in particular is beneficial in many very important ways. Is the same true for pre-adolescents and adolescents? Most agree it is.

And here’s my way of looking at it. Even in the highly unlikely event of a trade-off in terms of slight reduction of adult height, compare that to value of avoiding the rampant increase in diabetes, hypertension and depression in young people today, not to mention the value of acquiring the exercise habit early in life. To me, it’s no contest! And this is not idle talk on my part. I have 6 kids and all of them have worked out using SCT and developed above average strength. My daughter could leg press 1,100 pounds when she was 15. Obviously, my sons can do even more…and all but the girls are already over 6 feet tall.

Introduce your kids to strength training. You’ll be doing them a lifetime of good service.

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  • Brian

    I joined the SCT blog after this entry. This is a great explanation and as a trainer I totally agree!

  • Rene Kittelsen

    Great to know!