For many fitness junkies, odds are that you
lifted or attempted to lift weights when you
were younger so you can look like one of your
favorite superheroes, wrestlers, or bodybuilders.
But is lifting weights at such a young age
going to stunt your growth?
This often accepted adage has become even
more popular recently, stemming from overprotective
mothers reading a magazine article about the
side effects of weightlifting or one of your
friends that was never a big fan of weightlifting
to begin with. And if you hear it enough times,
you might even believe it’s true. So what’s
the science behind it?
During adolescence, long bones, such as the
bones in your legs, has small hyaline cartilages
known as epiphyseal plates connected to each
end. These epiphyseal plates increases the
length of the bones through multiplying and
regenerating ossifying cells known as chondrocytes.
This process is what makes your bones longer
and you taller. The fear is that at such a
young age, weightlifting will negatively impact
the epiphyseal plates, otherwise known as
your “growth” plates, through the heavy pressures
applied, causing you to lose growth potential.
So what does the research say? Umm, nothing
really, because, well, there are none. In
fact, there are some studies that suggest
weightlifting might even help you grow by
increasing certain growth-promoting hormones
such as testosterone, GH, and IGF-1, but there’s
no concrete study on that either. The only
times weightlifting was ever linked to damaging
epiphyseal plates were through injuries caused
by improper lifting technique and not weightlifting
itself. And even then, when these injuries
were treated, growth rates remained the same.
But even if it did cause damage to your growth,
there are many other activities kids participate
in that carry a far greater chance of doing
So for you young kids that aspire to be the
next Arnold or world heavyweight champion,
pumping iron can be okay, just make sure you
do it right and do it safely.
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Airport Lounge – Disco Ultralounge by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
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