Is weight lifting bad for kids?

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No, not really. Anything can be bad if you screw up hard enough, but there is nothing inherently wrong with weight lifting for kids. Many official boards of athletics and exercise physiology approve of it as an alternative to youth activity, and weight lifting does increase strength and endurance in youth while reducing body fat. If your child wants to lift weights, it should be fine; just make sure they know how to do it right.

Safety and Injury

Official stances of approval include the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology[1] which tout that "(Resistance training) for children and adolescents can be relatively safe and improve overall health", the National Strength and Conditioning Association[2] also is in approval for properly conducted weightlifting as a feasible alternative for youth activity.

Efficacy in Muscle growth and strength

Weight training, for children, doesn't appear to cause significant muscle growth like it does in adults.[3] That being said, it can increase muscular strength and endurance.[4][5][6] A 'higher rep' range of 6-15 repetitions seems to be most effective.

That being said, one meta-analysis did suggest that it is hard to get quality data due to methodology in studying this topic.[7]

Potential benefits

Resistance training can decrease fat mass in children and be a potential way to combat childhood obesity[8][9] and can have effects in as little as 8 weeks.[10] When constructed properly, they can be very safe as well.[11]

Tags: weight, lifting, kids, children, weight lifting

  1. Behm DG, et al. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology position paper: resistance training in children and adolescents. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2008)
  2. Faigenbaum AD, et al. Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association. J Strength Cond Res. (2009)
  3. Behringer M, et al. Effects of resistance training in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics. (2010)
  4. Faigenbaum AD, et al. The effects of different resistance training protocols on muscular strength and endurance development in children. Pediatrics. (1999)
  5. Payne VG, et al. Resistance training in children and youth: a meta-analysis. Res Q Exerc Sport. (1997)
  6. Faigenbaum AD, et al. Effects of different resistance training protocols on upper-body strength and endurance development in children. J Strength Cond Res. (2001)
  7. Benson AC, Torode ME, Fiatarone Singh MA. Effects of resistance training on metabolic fitness in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Obes Rev. (2008)
  8. Benson AC, Torode ME, Fiatarone Singh MA. The effect of high-intensity progressive resistance training on adiposity in children: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Obes (Lond). (2008)
  9. McGuigan MR, et al. Eight weeks of resistance training can significantly alter body composition in children who are overweight or obese. J Strength Cond Res. (2009)
  10. Sgro M, et al. The effect of duration of resistance training interventions in children who are overweight or obese. J Strength Cond Res. (2009)
  11. Sothern MS, et al. Safety, feasibility, and efficacy of a resistance training program in preadolescent obese children. Am J Med Sci. (2000)

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