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Children and teenagers are commonly warned against lifting heavy weights for fear that they may stunt their growth by doing damage to growing bones.
There are ongoing questions and concerns from parents and teenagers themselves surrounding teens lifting weights. It has generally been accepted by many that youth, both children and teens shouldn't do weight-training for fear of stunting growth. However, even with sufficient evidence pointing to just the opposite, this myth seems to be the prevailing belief in the general public. Let it be put to rest; weightlifting does not stunt growth.

HGH theory

The Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, is present in humans until the end of the growth period. It is present in higher levels between 0 – 15years and tappers off during young adulthood. It is the hormone responsible for triggering bone, tissue, organ and muscle growth. HGH is most active during sleep, which is why children need more sleep than adults, promoting cell growth.

Exercise in all forms releases all sorts of hormones, including endorphins and Human Growth Hormone. This theory- again, it has not been proven- states that as a result of the extra HGH being released into the system, tissue growth may be positively effected, causing a person to grow bigger or taller. There other theory is more plausible.

Mineralization of Bones due to Exercise

As mentioned above, increased exercise leads to all sorts of healthy chemical and physical changes. With lifting weights, there is a degree of stress placed on the bones and muscles which causes them to adapt to the movement. This adaptation is an increase in strength in the muscles and tendons, and improved density in the bones as a result of mineralization. The overall result here is that the bones and muscles become stronger, promoting some slight bone growth.

The strengthening effect that weight lifting has on the bones and muscles has a protective effect as well. Bones are less likely to break when muscles are stronger because they have more tone. With training, participating in any other physical activity, including contact and non-contact sports, is just that much safer.

What to Include and Avoid in your Teens program

A properly planned weight training program can keep your bones and joints safe, avoiding all chances of injury. A program should be well-rounded and include all muscle groups evenly. Teenage boys often get fixated on their arms becoming large, a result of the bombardment of masculinity and macho-men in the media, and focus on doing heavy bicep curls endlessly. This is a big mistake, and this is a situation that can lead to injury.

Exercises like squats and deadlifts which are highly technical and the most effective weight lifting movements should be done under supervision to ensure proper technique. The only time injury is likely here is if the youth is unprepared for a heavy movement and performs 1RM's. Doing 1 to 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions is completely safe and does not stunt growth.