Strength Training For Adolescents

Weight bearing activities are essential for normal bone formation & growth in adolescents.

We are often asked if strength training is safe for adolescents and teenagers. There is always some concern about growth (Epiphyseal) plates and how it can negatively effect the growth of our youth.  Some parents are seeking ways to give their child a competitive edge in sports while parents of overweight children seek guidance about which activities are effective for weight loss. Informed clinicians can reassure parents that, with adult supervision, proper equipment, and realistic expectations, strength training programs designed for children and adolescents are safe and extremely effective.  There are other benefits of strength training for children listed here.

In 2001, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) revised its policy statement to reflect the latest research findings regarding strength training by adolescents. It now states, “Studies have shown that strength training, when properly structured with regard to frequency, mode (type of lifting), intensity, and duration of program, can increase strength in preadolescents and adolescents.”  Parents can be reassured that when their children participate in a strength training program, the child will benefit from increased strength because of their efforts. Parents will not see an increase in the size of their children’s muscles because production of testosterone in adolescents isn’t high enough at this stage.

“To date, injury to the growth cartilage has not been reported in any prospective youth resistance training research study. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that resistance training will negatively impact growth and maturation during childhood and adolescence  (1,2).”

The Facts

  • Weight training doesn’t mean lifting more than an athlete can handle.  They must be properly introduced to training and adaptations must occur before additional weight can be added.
  • Weight bearing activities are essential for normal bone formation & growth.
  • There is no detrimental effect of weight training on normal linear growth if done in a safe and monitored environment
  • A 20 month study showed greater bone growth in preadolescent boys who performed similar weight lifting exercises than their control group.
  • A recent study showed preadolescent girls that participate in a 10-month training program had a higher bone mineral density than in their control group.
  • Added strength, if done in a balanced fashion, can significantly decrease the risk for injury in young athletes.


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