Does weightlifting stunt growth?

Last updated on September 3, 2020


Does weightlifting stunt growth? (Assuming that the person lifts with proper form and doesn’t overtrain himself.) I’ve heard responses for both sides, but I want to get an expert’s response. I often lift for sports and during school so I’d think not, but I need to confirm this.


There was once a concern that lifting too heavy of weights could damage the growth plates. Your bones don’t grow all over for the most part. There are plates at each end which forms the bulk of your bones’ growth. However, your joints are at each end of the bones as well. The concern was lifting heavy weights would cause the joints to rub and damage the growth plates. This lead to people taking the extreme position that any weight lifting was bad. Studies have shown, however, that lifting weights properly does not damage the growth plates.

What is stated today is that lifting a reasonable amount of weight for the person’s size and build is fine. Lifting with proper form is always important to avoid injury. The amount of weight is more dependent on how much you’ve built up your muscles to control the weights.

“Contrary to the traditional belief that strength training is dangerous for children or that it could lead to bone plate disturbances, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) contends that strength training can be a safe and effective activity for this age group, provided that the programs properly designed and competently supervised” [ACSM Current Comments].

What we know know is that weight training actually improves a person’s bone density; that is, it makes the bones stronger and less prone to break.

“Preliminary evidence suggests that youth strength training may also decrease the incidence of some sports injuries by increasing the strength of tendons, ligaments and bone” [ACSM Current Comments].

For a good article on strength training as a teenager, see: Strength Training for Children and Adolescents.