youth weightlifting – is it safe?

The old blanket objection to any prepubescent athlete using any weights is slowly disappearing.

It’s obvious to me from personal experience that very young children can condition in very similar ways to adults.

My objection to youth weightlifting is not that it is unsafe, but that it is inefficient. Take identical twins. Put one in the weight room 10hrs / week and one in a gymnastics program 10hrs / week.

Within a month you would see a conspicuous advantage in most motor and physical traits for the gymnast.

I often recommend free weight and even weight machines for young athletes — but normally only as a general conditioning supplement to the “real” conditioning in the gym using their own body weight as resistance. Or to correct a muscular imbalance.

Safety is a slight concern for me. The worst accident I have seen in years was a gymnast who dropped a free weight on his toe. (He was fooling around without permission at the time in socked feet.)

Still, it is worth checking this article to see what the most recent research is showing:

… There are still those who insist that training with weights and particularly the sport of weightlifting should be avoided until a person is fully developed. …

The lack of data is the issue; the alarmist negative response by well-meaning physicians and scientists has done an immeasurable disservice to the sport of weightlifting.

The sport is actually safer than is generally believed, especially if training and competition are appropriate for the age group and properly supervised …

USOC Olympic Coach E-magazine article


photo – CrossFit Kids

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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