So many parents ask when their kids should start lifting, if lifting is safe at certain ages, if it's important for high schoolers to move heavy loads. There isn't truly a straight answer to this question, but there are a few myths to bust.
Myth #1 - Lifting weight young stunts growth
Truth - No, lifting does not stunt growth. When you grow, the bones get longer, and the muscles stretch to catch up. So, as a kid gets taller he or she might get "tighter" or lose mobility, but they aren't losing height.
Myth #2 - Deadlifts hurt your back
Truth - No, deadlifts don't hurt your back. Doing deadlifts wrong can hurt your back, yes. But, doing proper deadlifts greatly improves glute function which actually helps keep a healthy spine. Proper deadlifts are one of the best things you can do for your back.
Myth #3 - When kids start lifting they need to learn squat, bench, clean
Truth - While those are great exercises, not every kid is ready for them. Many kids want to start those lifts because that's what their high school does, but first the athlete needs to have the biomechanical integrity tested to see if they are ready for those lifts. If not, there are some other great lifts to do to help them get ready to do those 3.
The right age to start lifting weights at really depends more on the athlete's physical maturity age than their actual chronological age. What we should do is promote exercise and activity from a young age, and when they have mastered the basics, begin to slowly introduce an external load at the appropriate rate. We have athletes as young as 11 years old doing great trap bar deadlifts, and we have seniors in high school that still work with body weight exercises. Regardless of age, proper mobility, stability, and neuromuscular patterning determine exercise and weight selection.
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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