Does Bodybuilding Training and Lifting Weights Stunt Growth?

Strong boy lifting heavy weights
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The whole notion of growth being stunted by bodybuilding training is a myth. As long as the resistance is not so high that it would cause the bones to become denser and thus close the epiphysis (the growth area of a long bone) then there should not be any detrimental effects.

As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed their policy (PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001, pp. 1470-1472) regarding this topic by stating that "strength training programs do not seem to adversely affect linear growth and do not seem to have any long-term detrimental effect on cardiovascular health" as evidenced in recent studies.

The compression forces on legs and spine are far greater in running and jumping than they will ever be in a bodybuilding exercise like squatting. Compression forces in running and jumping can exceed 5 times his bodyweight. If one's not squatting over 700 pounds, one's generating greater compression in normal daily activities.

Ideal Training Weight

Don't lift any weight that you can't do in a controlled fashion and with perfect form for at least 10 repetitions until you are 18 or so. A weight that you can perform with perfect form for 10-15 repetitions will give you excellent bodybuilding results. Once 18, you can introduce weeks of heavier lifting, never going below 5 repetitions as that is not needed for bodybuilding.

When it comes to kids and bodybuilding training the concern isn't so much the risk of stunting growth (which won't happen with proper training), but rather the risk of injuring tendons, ligaments, or joints that are unused to the demands of heavy lifting. This is the reason why It can't be emphasized enough the importance of proper weight selection and perfect exercise execution.


If you look at it, lifting weights didn't do a thing to stunt the growth of Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Michael Vick, etc. All started lifting in their early teens, and all have gone on to be over 6' tall and star in professional sports. Dave Draper and Arnold Schwarzenegger started lifting younger than that; again, both are 6'1" or taller. Many high school teams start their freshmen on lifting programs.

Provided that exercise form, proper weight selection, and safety are always emphasized, you won't find your growth stunted by lifting; rather, you'll find that you grow into your body much better and much more quickly than most of the peers around you.