Fact or fable: Strength training for children stunts growth

It is often said that strength training for children stunts growth and should not be done by them. Loading the bones in this way, would damage the growth plates (epiphyseal plates). These growth plates are responsible for the elongation of our bones and therefore our growth. This process eventually slows down and stops when we reach the end of puberty or early adulthood.

However, there is no research that indicates that the growth plates are damaged by performing strength training. Studies involving strength training for children show normal growth patterns and no adverse effects whatsoever. So strength training does not stunt growth in children.

Moreover, several studies even recommend it for its’ beneficial effects on children. Not only does it increase strength, but it improves children’s health and introduces them to a healthy habit at an early stage in life which they can easier maintain throughout their lives. It improves control over their body and strengthens muscles, tendons and bones.

There should be no fear of excessive muscle growth either since both boys and girls at a young age lack sufficient amounts of anabolic hormones such as testosterone to produce noticeable changes in muscle mass.

Before children start going to the gym, there are several considerations:

  1. The child should psychologically ready to perform strength training.
  2. The child should understand proper exercise techniques for each exercise.
  3. The child should understand safety concerns of each piece of exercise equipment.
  4. Train at a moderate intensity (12-15 repetitions per set), higher intensities are harder to perform correctly and don’t yield better results.
  5. The training equipment should fit the child properly.
  6. Proper guidance is often necessary.
  7. Training should be fun.


-Zatsiorsky, V.M., Kraemer, W.J. (2006). Strength Training for Young Athletes.Science and Practice of Strength Training. Second Edition. USA. Human Kinetics.