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Teen Powerlifting and Starting Age?

I was looking at some results of powerlifting meets and I noticed they had teen divisions. Then I started looking up at what age kids should start lifting weights (heavier) and got mixed results, but several reputable sources (Mayo Clinic for example) said things like waiting until at least 13-15 with warnings about damaging growth plates. Male growth plates don’t fuse until around age 17, so how are these 16 year old “kids” putting up 1400 pound totals? If a kid breaks his leg falling out of a tree he generally doesn’t end up with one leg longer than another, so how is lifting weights different on the growth plates?

Is there an age that most people agree on or is it dependent on puberty or what? Or is it BS that kids need to wait until a certain age?

(I’m asking about lifting heavy, not general strength training, calisthenics, etc.)

Of all the stupid and dangerous activities teenagers engage in that can have lifelong consequences, lifting heavy weights isn’t even in the top 500 as far as poor choices go.


It’s a matter of risk. An appropriate strength training program has very low risk of adverse effect on growth or growth plates. That’s what the evidence points to. With proper supervision and technique and load management u may be unlucky enough to get a few strains.

Of course if u do stupid shit it’ll have adverse effects but these are still relatively unlikely unless you do something catastrophic like throwing on 6 plates first day in the gym and get crushed lol.

Technically there’s a bit of overlap here with actual powerlifting/maximal lifts because the recommendations are to keep away from failure and near max loading by upping the reps. The risk is relatively low even if u pursue powerlifting. Risk will decrease as the body nature’s fully but that doesn’t mean it can’t adapt to specific demands imposed in the process.


So I guess I’d like to know what age a teen can lift on their own? Assuming they have decent technique and ego in check.

Children as young as 4 can and do engage in resistance training. Moderation remains the key.

I specified heavy weight training.

And then you said “lift on their own”.

I replied to THAT post.

Sorry, what age can a teen lift heavy weights on their own? Assuming they have decent technique and ego in check.

There’s no wrong answer really. Any age pretty much physiologically. Benefits outweigh the risks

In your opinion, would you say that the risks of lifting heavy outweigh the benefits in prepubescent boys?

Probs. There’s a lot of benefits and relatively low risk. Personally I’d stay away from restricting yourself to just powerlifting at least in training style. Eastern Bloc be starting early too but they build general preparatory work, capacities and athleticism for years before getting more specific to powerlifting. Ex athletes (some sports) make good powerlifters also.

You’d probably experience more success in “heavy” lifting if you spent some time engaging in

first. Perhaps you have though.

Wouldn’t worry about it (EDIT: your age) as long as you put at least a little thought into it (EDIT: the lifting program you follow).

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From what I have heard, it’s the maximal weights that will damage growth plates. Just stay away from anything close to a one rep max outside of the occasional PL meet and you should be fine. Most football players lifted weights in high school and they don’t look like a bunch of midgets.

Compared to what? Having no athletic out let and becoming fat and lazy? Or playing a contact sport like American football or boxing?

Keep it sensible. Do plenty of research. And keep away from anything near maxing out.

I started lifting weights when I was 11yrs old, I’m 38 now. Never had any problems with it

This /\ … proper coaching and load management…

It’s a fucking myth!!! As long as good form is used and common sense is applied. I asked my oldest son that is starting his master’s degree in exercise physiology and he would tell you the same. This damn notion of growth plate damage has been around for decades. As pointed out above most kids see many times more incidents of that type of injury in other sports.


100% The original study was an observational one on malnourished Japanese farm kids carrying heavy loads all day.
Also, given that a short stature is generally advantageous for powerlifting, there’s probably an element of self selection bias

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This your boy?

Mine is also dead keen on training (he is 7). We run a full body work out 1or 2 times a week.

Dips or press ups
Pull ups or rope climbs
Goblet squats. His work ethic puts me to shame.

Edit; I hit reply to @carl_in_dovet.
Not bulldog

@carlbm… My 8yr old nephew, he trained with me 2x week for 8 weeks and won his division on his first meet.
Lucky for you to have your son interested!

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