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Does lifting weights stunt growth?

  1. Jan 8, 2006 #1
    This seem to be a contraversial issue but does lifting weights during the early teenage years or just before puberty like 14, stunt growth?

    I am talking about often but normal weight training like 1 hour sessions for 5-6 times a week and with relatively normal weights although on the heavy side like 10 repetitions.

    It shouldn't have to do with growth hormones because growing muscles uses different hormones to growing bones. It is not like you scarificed bone growth for muscle growth?

    So it comes down to stunting the growth of bones due to putting excessive strain on them?

    So if someone was really stunted due to lifiting weights, they would by the time they become adults, have relatively large hands and feet but relatively short arms, legs, body and other parts that they put strain on.

    Is that how it works or is it much more complicated and entangled like bone growth hormones all round are reduced due to excessive excercising like lifting weights?
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2006 #2
    From what I've heard, the reason that young people can stunt their growth when lifting weights is that they often try to lift too much with poor form. This can result in damaged growth plates, which in turn stunt growth. However, as far as I know, any part that has to do with hormones is a myth: if they lift lightly and with proper form, they should be fine.
  4. Jan 8, 2006 #3
    Are you saying specific growth plates? So the kid's other unaffected (to heavy lifting) areas will grow normally? In other words they seem to have hands, feet, head etc that are too large?
  5. Jan 9, 2006 #4
  6. Jan 9, 2006 #5
    Most excercise and especially weight lifting will raise testosterone levels. Linear bone growth (bone length) is also controlled indirectly by testosterone (conversion of testosterone to estrogen); it accelerates growth but if it reaches a certain level quickly it fuses the growth plates. So excersise can make you grow taller quickly and then halt your growth, always depending from your body type. No matter what happens, excercise will make your body much stronger.
  7. Jan 10, 2006 #6


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    Welcome to physicforums newp175!!! :biggrin:

    What are growth plates? Like where bone grows out of?

    From personal trainers I've talked to previously, they've said that lifting weights will not stunt your growth unless you lift too much, and with improper form. Lift too much, as in lift a lot, everyday, all the time. Body building in the teen years may not be good for you. However, having a nice shape and physical fitness is good for you (the girls like the abs). :biggrin:
  8. Jan 10, 2006 #7


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    Gold Member

    But, you back will not! :wink:
  9. Jan 11, 2006 #8
    Hi, thx for the welcome.

    Growth plates are the epiphyses, the cartilagenous growth areas near the ends of the long bones (and in some other areas like the skull). They mineralise at the end of puberty.
  10. Jan 13, 2006 #9


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    What? :confused:
  11. Jan 5, 2010 #10
    Im Seventeen and been lifting for three years i didnt start lifting real heavy till a year ago.my friends tell me it looks like i shrank a little. my works out are 2 and a half hours long sun,mon,weds,thurs. and rest tues,fri,sat. i really focus on abs and upper body i really dont work to heavy on squats. can this still be stunting my growth? what suppements can i take to get me taller? can taking extra calcium strengthen my bones, making them not shrink but stay the same?
  12. Jan 5, 2010 #11
    icereck I promise you have not altered your intended growth whatsoever. The stunting is very rare, not common even for 14 year olds who start lifting I have known plenty. Few take it to the max as posted to cause epiphyseal closure most kids just balance out and end up doing well for themselves getting fit, they're only lucky if they can keep up the pace and the discipline it would do well for them. The reason it's not a grave concern is because epiphyseal closure cannot be replicated by taking two random 14 year olds and working them out considerably and then charting the outcome on the bone ends. One may get it, both may, but the dang sure bet is both wont and such stressful workouts would cause various injuries before stunting I feel really passionate about making that point. To me, the point is don't exceed when your body tells you to stop. You can push it far with no problem if you follow careful workout form which you've likely developed.

    Seventeen is perfect, and I have seen my peers lift weights I would consider psychotic when we were that age but all it did was make their high school lives slightly more fun than mine as a nonlifter-heavy metaler lol

    In countless football, baseball and track meets and cities I've lived in and all the people I have ever known (Im 34) in my entire life I have never ever heard of anyone doing systemic damage by working out. I have only read about possible scenarios. If I could go back to 1987 and bestow one thing to my youth it would be to do what you are doing and don't stop. The health benefits, the boosting of catecholamines and other lifting hormones right during a time where teenagers could use some self-confidence, what a change straight exercise for life can do for a young man. Go for it just stay within your tolerances and get big if you want.

    Supplements: if you take them and eat like a normal seventeen year old does it will not matter compared to not taking them except to accomplish alterations to things like fat levels and other changes not dictated by inheritance. If you eat extra amino acids, it will not work better than if you don't.
    Everyone will agree taking a little extra calcium when working out is a great idea. But if you don't take it, and you eat normally and work out, you'll be the same internally because your body will sequester/bind/assimilate it just fine without pills, but taking them causes no harm.
    If you buy things like nitric oxide boosters and are able to control things like baroception which modulates the size of your vessels it will not average out any better than if you just eat normally and lift weights with good form and regularity. Supplements nowadays can be precursors to actual hormones such as testosterone and others, I would worry more about that doing actual harm to your physical structure at the hormonal/cellular level for sure before I would a workout regimen itself. I recommend you don't jack with your testosterone levels, speaking from experience here. You have the ideal amount naturally. You may need more or less cardio depending on your personal body type to get to where you want, but these are the changes that make you big, not what you buy. I have no medical credentials but I've seen where those who want to modify testosterone end up, Mexico, and unless you've been welcomed there by warm hosts I can assure you a never ending consideration of supplementation is a really bad idea.
    All the supplemental stuff is helpful when you are far past 17, and if you want to take some vitamins or calcium or a protein shake no problem, just never see a supplement doing a better job for you than a new curl angle, or some type of new fatiguing exercise to push you past growth plateaus/

    sorry for the mexico comment what I meant was all young men who want a pump and live in the lower half of the US consider or attempt a run down there to get cheap horse stackers. This is the culmination of starting out early in the supplementation/enhancement game
    Have fun man
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  13. Jan 5, 2010 #12
    If I could live my teen years again, I wouldn't do any lifts nor take any supplements. I'd do moderate amount of sport for enjoyment only, not to improve my physical appearance or anything.

    I'd say after 21 is usually a safe age to do weights. However, to be very safe, after 24.
  14. Jan 5, 2010 #13
    there doesn't seem to be an epidemic of short kids coming out of high school football programs.
  15. Jan 6, 2010 #14
    But do they use weights everyday? Most Likely not? Do they start lifting weights at 14? Probably not?
  16. Jan 6, 2010 #15
  17. Jan 6, 2010 #16
    Now, this gets a bit controversial, as it involves genetic expression, but there's evidence out there for same-generation expression of various genetic traits in response to environmental stimuli.

    If you want details, you'll have to search out (they're readily available).

    I can tell you worked out regularly, but never to that extreme. In 11th grade I could leg press 750 lbs for 20 reps of 3 sets, but I attribute that feat to the fact I was an avid cyclist, bicycling, literally, all over the place, including a paper route I had between 1977 and 1979, which I used to perform at a whiz-bang, hands-off pace come hell, high water, or hurricane.

    But at 150 lbs, I could only bench press 240 lbs.

    Regardless, I never routinely worked out with weights when I was in my teens, preferring to simply play basketball, soccer, raquetball, or other sports.

    Bad? I dunno. I don't think I suffered any ill effects. Then again, I didn't do it 5 x a week! I do think that's excessive, and agree a more well-rounded approach is better for the overall, long-term health of your child.
  18. Jan 6, 2010 #17
    every day would be a very bad plan for anyone, and is an injury waiting to happen. 3-4X/week would give you better recovery, and better gains. depending on intensity and volume, you'd want to repeat a specific exercise no more than every other day, and no less than every 5 days for optimal results.

    1.6 X bodyweight is exceptionally good.
  19. Jan 6, 2010 #18
    True, but you might want to take a close look at gymnastics. A sport with a proven track record of stunting growth from heavy exercise/lifting starting from very early age.
  20. Jan 6, 2010 #19
    does gymnastics often also delay puberty? why might that be?

    i would also suggest that performing at an elite level in gymnastics requires a shorter stature, in much the same way that performing at an elite level in basketball requires a taller stature. so, when you watch professionals, you tend to see short gymnasts and tall basketball players, because the sport selected them, not because basketball causes tallness.
  21. Jan 6, 2010 #20
    Obviously, one cannot do a direct measurement as one cannot reverse time. But realistically heavy weight training in early teen years compared to no weight training could cause a little difference of maybe up to an inch, no more.
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