One common question I hear from parents is “What age is it okay to start using weights?” It is a common misbelief that children working with weights may be subject to stunted growth and/or are more prone to injury. The belief in the first thought is due to the fact that children’s growth plates are not yet closed. The second belief comes from the idea that children’s bones are not strong enough to support weight. However, in recent years studies have disproven both of these ideas.
The overall consensus for adolescent weight training is that it is suitable to begin training between the ages of seven and nine. This is when children normally begin participating in sports in regular training programs.
In an article written by Katherine Stabenow Dehab, MD, and Teri Metcalf McCambridge, MD, called Strength Training in Children and Adolescents: Raising the Bar for Young Athletes, Dehab and Cambridge clarify many of the myths associated with youth weight training, and discuss how weight training in adolescents helps improve sports performance.
Many parents are often concerned that strength training can lead to injuries, but for those who already participate in sports regularly, weight training with proper technique can actually aid in reducing injuries rather than increasing them. Additionally, studies have shown that weight training helps lead to healthy body composition, increased bone density (which is particular beneficial to young girls, as it may aid in the prevention of osteoporosis later in life), and better posture. .