Does Weightlifting Make You Shorter?

Many people reckon that kids and teens should avoid lifting weights and strength training because these exercises might damage or strain bone growth plates. As you know, growth plates are necessary for height increase. And if they are damaged or hurt, they might stunt your children’s growth. What do you think about this thought? Is it true? Follow us and find the answer!

Does weightlifting make you shorter or taller?

The misconception that lifting weights makes you shorter starts from the fact that hurting growth plates in immature bones can affect growth. However, this can happen due to poor forms, heavy weights, and a lack of supervision.

One thing that the myth does not refer to is that participation in nearly any kind of physical activity or sport might bring a risk of injury. Almost 15 to 30 percent of all childhood fractures include growth plates [1].

As we know, growth plates are the cartilaginous areas of growing tissues at the end of bones. When a person reaches a certain age, these plates become hardened bones. But during development, they are softer and more susceptible to damage. So, does that mean kids or teens should not lift weights to avoid damaging their growth plates?

The answer is still no. Weightlifting in children under 18 is still safe if properly applied.

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Things to consider for tweens and teens when lifting weights

First, you need to pay attention to the age at which your child might get the result. In fact, weight training before puberty might not be helpful. That means tweens between 9 and 12 will not see much benefits regarding adding muscle mass.

With teens, the potential influence on the growth plates is an area of concern. These plates are points or spots of cartilage or new growth that have not completely solidified into bone yet. Hence, in some cases, injury to growth plates might lead to limited stature. Children falling out of household furniture or playground equipment are more likely to acquire injuries to their growth plates that might stunt their growth than a child lifting weights [2].

Hence, as parents, you need to consider your child’s age and what exercise will include. Below are guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for children starting with strength training.

  • Avoid weight-training equipment or gyms designed to be used by adults.
  • Kids at 8 and teens should never participate in bodybuilding, powerlifting, or maximal lifts until their skeletal structure is mature.
  • They should never try performance-enhancing supplements.
  • Parents need to consult a trained and experienced professional to select a suitable program for their child’s abilities and limitations.

How about the benefits of lifting weights?

Physical benefits

According to the AAP, kids from 8 years old and up can do strength training as a safe way to build their strength and stay physically fit [3]. Studies pointed out that resistance training delivers great health benefits, including [4]:

  • Increasing strength, particularly bone and muscular
  • Decreasing the risk of sports-related injuries and bone fractures
  • Promoting gross motor skills, like coordination and fluidity of movements
  • Enhancing athletic performance

Mental benefits

Weightlifting helps promote positive body image, self-esteem, and overall confidence. These awareness and body positivity benefits are vital for teens because they can build lifelong interest and love of fitness [5]. It also helps kids who have anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Some studies showed that regular lifting weights can help teens get control over their mental health conditions [6].

Should we lift weights daily?

The answer is NO. As mentioned above, you can get many benefits from weightlifting, but again, you should not do it every day. It is recommended to weight lift for about two to three days per week. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this suggestion also adjusts to the physical activity guidelines for Americans; for instance, working out for at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or 150 to 300 minutes a week at a moderate one [7]. Because our body needs time to repair and grow new tissue to become stronger.  The best thing is to allow 48 hours of recovery between working muscle groups. Even if you are altering your muscle groups on different days, taking a rest day after lifting three days in a row is a must.

How to set a suitable weightlifting regimen for your children?

To get an effective exercise routine, you should follow these specific guidelines.

  • Beginning with a proper warm-up between 5 and 10 minutes before participating in any form of strength training is a must.
  • Then your kids should proceed with their strength training regime, followed by a cooldown of another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Before lifting weights, the most important thing is mastering proper technique.
  • Instead of using weights, you can incorporate different resistance methods, such as bands, resistant tubes, medicine balls, or machines (for teens around 16). These not only support better growth but also prevent boredom.
  • Supervision is necessary to avoid injuries. Since kids can start at 8, they need close supervision, and progression should be gradual. For instance, if they can accomplish these repetitions with ease, a gradual increase of 5% in weight can be considered. On the other hand, if they find it hard to perform even 10 reps, the weight might be too much.
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How important is nutrition in weightlifting?

During a weightlifting session, nutrition is necessary because it helps fuel performance, facilitate the recovery process, and repair the muscles. If your body does not get enough nutrition and hydration, it cannot perform at optimal levels.

Some basic dietary changes

First, you need to avoid sugar calories like soda and fruit juices as well as processed foods because they are low in protein, fiber, and nutrients, yet high in empty calories. Next, you should opt for lean protein sources from chicken, turkey, and fish as these foods are low in saturated fat and deliver enough protein and healthy fats. For the carbohydrate intake, you should make your children’s dish with half whole grains and fresh or frozen fruits.

Ideal meals and timing

Before workout

Eat a light meal or snack between 60 and 90 minutes before starting to lower abdominal pain and discomfort. For instance, consume a handful of almonds with half a banana or apple slices with peanut butter. Avoid eating white bread, russet potatoes, and honey because they might be absorbed in your bloodstream quickly and cause a sugar crash.

After workout

Post-workout nutrition is necessary for replenishing glycogen stores and repairing muscle tears. You can eat a snack (i.e. Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit, a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly, or chocolate milk) 30 minutes after that, followed by a full meal two hours later.

For the full meal, fill half the plate with veggies, a third with whole grains, and the rest with lean protein. A good example includes a chicken breast with stir-fry vegetables and brown rice.

In the end,

The idea that weightlifting makes you shorter is a myth because it can deliver many benefits when done properly. You might increase bone density, boost muscle growth, and enhance hormone production when including weight training in your active life. And do not forget to maintain a good diet and get enough sleep to achieve your maximum height potential.


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