To Lift or Not to Lift - That is the Question!

If you are a parent that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s (myself included), you may have heard your parents or coaches telling you that lifting weights or strength training would stunt your growth. Until recently I still believed that, so I decided to really dive into this controversial subject to see what the real truth is.

In the 70’s and 80’s, experts in the fitness world threw out all sorts of alarming statistics (with no real research done), that strength training would harm children and teens' growth plates and joints, creating a stunt in their growth development. As we rolled into the millennium, people started to challenge these 'so called' experts by researching what really happens to the body during strength training. Here are the findings...

- Strength training tones muscles.
- Boosts energy.
- Boosts self-confidence.
- Boosts metabolism which in return helps children who battle weight problems lose weight.
- Strengthens bones and muscles.

This blog I’m sure will strike up some controversy, so I will touch on the con’s of lifting and strength training.

- Injuries, yes this can happen, but it can happen anywhere, doing anything.
- Creating bad habits with repetition of bad form.
- Big ego’s ... overloading weight too fast.
- Not listening to the warning signs your body is sending. Bones and joints are still developing, and kids tend to “plow through the pain or discomfort.” 

My Advice: 
- Consult your physician before starting a strength training program. Let him/her make sure your child’s body is physically ready to handle weightlifting.

- Work with a certified trainer. Let your trainer design a safe, fun effective program that your child will enjoy. Having a professional trainer will take out all the guesswork for you. He or she will focus on proper form and technique and will guide your child on progression of weight.

- Lastly, start slow. Strength training is not a race, so focus on technique. I wouldn’t have your child start with a power clean or dead lift any time soon. Have your child use his or her own body weight to start. I always get children at the gym that tell me they want to bench press, or try to do a Jerk  lift because they want to get “jacked”, yet they can’t even do a pushup or chin up. Have your child focus on the fundamentals of fitness, perfect them and then progress to weights.

At the end of the day, you will do what you feel is best for your child. I hope I helped debunk some of the myths of weight training for kids. Until next time …Stay Fit Stay healthy!

About the Author: Sue Forberg is the Director at H2T Elite Dryland Training Inc. H2T is a multi-faceted state of the art dryland facility specializing in children the ages 5-16. A gym for kids you say... absolutely. Their primary goal is to enhance the quality of life for young people through exercise and proper nutrition. H2T has created a fun age appropriate dryland program that gives every child what he/she needs from a developmental standpoint. Find out more at

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