By Shaun Ruskin
I’m 13 years old and I want to start working out. I’ve heard that lifting weights at my age can stunt my growth. Some of my friends say that it won’t. So, what’s the truth? Will weight lifting stop me from growing or not?
Listen Billy, I started working out when I was 10, haven’t stopped since, and I’m 4 foot 2, so you know…I wouldn’t worry about it, you’ll be just fine. With that being said, I still want to present to you even more proof than my own personal height experience (which was playful humor, for those of you that didn’t catch on).
Over the years, I’ve done quite a bit of research on this topic, because like you, I used to hear different answers to this question, and wanted to know the truth. I also didn’t love the idea of moving up any further on the class lineup. I generally floated around the fourth or fifth position, and I was not at all eager to climb to the top three spots. You know, being the first in a class lineup is probably the only circumstance in life where it isn’t a good thing to be number one. That and maybe being the first draft pick to a war. Imagine that, out of like 20 million, you get number one. Talk about luck in the wrong direction. I’d much rather win the lotto, personally speaking.
Anyway, so far I’ve written two paragraphs that have nothing to do with your question, so let me just cut to the chase and do this. I must be honest in saying that I’ve never come across any legitimate proof from any studies stating that lifting weights at an early age will stunt growth, and I’ve looked. It’s always hearsay type stuff -- he said she said -- with no concrete evidence. Although a couple of years ago, I should tell you, I did run into a guy named Mike, who began weight lifting when he was just 11, and was sure that the reason he was only 5 foot 1 was because he began working out too young. We became friendly, and one day I met his parents. His father was 5 foot 2, and his mother was 4 foot 10, but he was 100 percent positive that beginning weight lifting at 11 was the reason he was so short. Other than Mike, I haven’t bumped into anyone else who’s experienced this problem.
So that’s squashed. Now, if that’s enough confirmation for you, and you do decide to start an exercise program, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. For instance, it is very important to take things extremely slow because you are still young and, to some extent, fragile. Also, supervision is a must, even if you think it isn’t cool, it is. If not one of your parents, have someone older and experienced, like your brother, friend, or even a personal trainer, show you how to use the machines properly so you wont hurt yourself. Make sure to use light weights with high repetitions, like 15 or 20. You’ll get the same benefits as lifting heavier, just without the injuries.
Okay Billy, how was that. Keep in mind that I’m not trying to convince you to start anything. I’m just telling you what I know, and what I’ve experienced. Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up his first dumbbell when he was 12 and he’s like 6 foot 3. Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) also started training very young, and he’s 6 foot 5. So, whatever you decide to do, take it slow. Don’t show off with heavy weights...it isn’t worth the injury and, trust me when I say, nobody cares and you won’t impress anyone.
Okay, I’m done reprimanding. Remember, always start easy, be patient, enjoy yourself, and I’ll see you at the gym.