I’ve been working out for about a month now, and have been losing quite a bit of weight, mostly inspired by you and the blog. I’m 17, and my parents keep going on about strength training and how I’m too young to do any strength training, but they can’t seem to tell me why its bad for someone of my age. I’ve been doing a bit anyway, with fairly light weights, but I’d like to go onto bigger ones. Is there any truth to being to young? If so, when can I start?
If you put yourself in your parents’ shoes, it’s easy to understand their concern. They probably want to know your motivations. They may worry that you are insecure with your appearance. Or that you are being picked on at school. Or even that you’re giving in to peer pressure. From their perspective, they may be concerned about an underlying problem, and so it’s best for you to be open and honest about why you’re interested in lifting weights. Communicate with your parents.
Moreover, like most people, your parents probably don’t fully understand strength training or any possible risks.
The truth is, strength training is perfectly healthy for young people, and it provides a number of great benefits such as:
- Increased strength
- Improved endurance
- Faster metabolism
- Promotes healthy body weight
- Stronger bones
- Improved self-esteem
- Healthier cholesterol levels and blood pressure
Much of the concern about weight lifting in younger populations surrounds the myth that strength training stunts growth. The myth is rooted in some truth: If proper form isn’t maintained and/or the youth is engaged in excessive lifting, growth plates could be damaged. To ensure safer lifting, pay special attention to your form and don’t overly exert yourself.
Strength training is safe for young people, even much younger than yourself. And it’s certainly much safer than almost any other sport that your high school might offer. But you don’t have to take my word for it: The Mayo Clinic, The National Strength and Conditioning Association and American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend strength training in children for the above reasons.
It’s always wise to consult a physician, whether you’re an adult or child, before starting a new fitness routine. And with younger populations, supervision is recommended and heavy bodybuilding or power-lifting should generally be avoided until certain developmental criteria are met.
Hope that helps!