For decades training experts and doctors have warned against youngsters lifting weights, claiming that epiphyseal plates at the end of bones could close early and stunt growth. If you’ve ever watched kids play, you may have noticed them jumping, climbing, wrestling and stretching to the extreme. All of that is much more traumatic than lifting weights, right?
According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, kids aged five to 17 should get at least one hour of physical activity a day at moderate to vigorous intensity, “including muscle- and bone-strengthening activites at least three days a week.” The CSEP says that weightlifting is safe for kids as young as five if they have the proper supervision.
“If you look at the relative incidence of injuries of everything Canadian kids do, playing hockey, skateboarding, skiing, etc., the incidence of injury for those sports is much higher than that of any children who have ever been on a strength-training program,” said David Behm, Ph.D., coauthor of the position paper on resistance training in children and adolescents issued by the CSEP.
The paper says that lifting weights actually helps prevent injuries because it builds bone density, tendon and ligament strength and muscle.