T Nation

Too Young to Squat and Deadlift?


I know alot of people say that weightlifting stunting your growth is bullshit.

But I'm 15.5 years old. I asked Chad Waterbury about squatting and deadlifting at this age.

He told me that I'm too young to squat and deadlift heavy at this age and I should do 18-20 rep sets.

I respect Chad Waterbury. He is a good trainer. But is he right on this one?


i know nothing but i say you should squat and deadlift. but you probly just started lifting so working with high reps like that will get you good gains and it will help your form. once you got your form down good and stuff i dont think it would hurt to deadlift and squat heavy. lifting dosent stunt your growth, i belive that is a myth. as i said i dont know anything, just my oppinion



Eh. I'm near your age. I squat/DL for sets of eight. I'm still growing. ::shrug::


He probably told you to stay in a higher rep range to focus on form first. When you go heavy, you form will break down and FAST. I would say take his advice until you're sure that your form is good and slowly lower the rep range.

And quit with the 15.5 crap.


Max effort deadlifts and squats (or any other lift) should be saved for that time when you have more training time under your belt. That being said, I see no reason why a 5x5 protocol couldn't be used safely. And until you are comfortable with a give movement, even those 5's should be below a max effort. Sets of 18-20? Not so sure I'd agree there. Strange things like motor unit recruitment patterns get kinda funky with reps that high. Even bodyweight squats don't look the same from start to finish with that high a rep bracket.

Look up Bill Starr. He's got several versions of 5x5. Just go slow with weight loading. Get a REAL feel for the movement. Study PROPER form or better yet find a coach that knows his stuff or look up some of Dave Tate's articles on the big three Squat, Bench, Deadlift and practice technique according to those recommendation.

I like the 5x5 for beginners because it gives them 5 sets three times per week (Bill Starr) to LEARN the moves.

If you squat once per week, it's a much slower learning process.


CW said don't squat and dead heavy, he didn't say dont squat and dead. Work your form and technique, get spot on with the basics and when you get a couple years under your belt drop the reps and work heavier. At your age I believe that you would grow on any rep scheme.


I'm 16 and squat and deadlift for reps as low as 3.

When I was learning the movements I did keep the weight light though.


Well how tall are you? Cause if you're 6'4" I would be less worried about stunted growth than if you were 5'4"


The whole stunted growth thing was about disrupting the growth plates in the long bones of children. And THAT would only happen concurrnt with a serious injury.

From www.niams.nih.gov

Who Gets Growth Plate Injuries?

These injuries occur in children and adolescents. The growth plate is the weakest area of the growing skeleton, weaker than the nearby ligaments and tendons that connect bones to other bones and muscles. In a growing child, a serious injury to a joint is more likely to damage a growth plate than the ligaments that stabilize the joint. An injury that would cause a sprain in an adult can be associated with a growth plate injury in a child.

Injuries to the growth plate are fractures. They comprise 15 percent of all childhood fractures. They occur twice as often in boys as in girls, with the greatest incidence among 14- to 16-year-old boys and 11- to 13-year-old girls. Older girls experience these fractures less often because their bodies mature at an earlier age than boys. As a result, their bones finish growing sooner, and their growth plates are replaced by stronger, solid bone.

Approximately half of all growth plate injuries occur in the lower end of the outer bone of the forearm (radius) at the wrist. These injuries also occur frequently in the lower bones of the leg (tibia and fibula). They can also occur in the upper leg bone (femur) or in the ankle, foot, or hip bone.


Why would you go for a heavy squat at such a young age? I'm sure at your age you can still make tremendous stregth gains with sets of 15. Save the heavy sets for a couple years when you grow stagnant.
I'm all for a huge squat and DL as I am a powerlifter and do train with singles quite a bit, but I know I have read in articles even here on T-Nation that as a young newbie you should stick with high reps until you plateau. And that shouldn't come for a while.


Well I'm doing 8 reps for everything right now. too heavy?


I never knew you had to fracture the growth plate to stunt the growth. I thought it could be just the impact or the stress. I guess you learned me.


Anyone who's just starting to deadlift and squat should do high rep sets for at least a couple months. The squats a difficult lift to get the form right, and the deadlift is dangerous if you don't do it right. You don't have to do 20 reps, but you should be using a weight you could do for at least 15 reps if you had to. (Deadlifting for 20 reps fucking sucks). 8 reps, if you're using an 8 rep max, is not a good idea when you're just starting out.


I am myself fifteen years old. I train Westside style but hit a 3-5 RM on max effort day instead of the traditional 1 RM. I can deadlift about 350 for a 1 RM based on my 3 RM (325 x 3). When I first startted a year and a few months ago it was 185 x 6. I am about 5'10 and 195 lbs now, a few inches shorter and 160 lbs when I started. I have grown considerably since lifting weights, so I don't think I am putting any unncessary stress on my joints or anything like that. I was a retard when I started though and tried to lift heavy all the time, stick with the higher reps at least for the first six months. I would tend to disagree with Chad about avoiding the heavy squats/deadlifts at this age as I seem to be fine as of yet and I love getting strong too much.


For one thing, I wouldn't second guess someone as learned as him,

and another is that you need to learn how to execute these moves properly.

For someone just starting out, you need to learn the movements, and while you are doing that you will also be building the essential structural components that are necessary to move heavy wieght, like stronger tendons, ligaments, and bone density.

This will occur with the high rep training.

Conjugate sequence with rotating emphasis and the alphabet soup of training programs are great, but do yourself a favor and build a good fundamental base of strength and learning.


it is...

he's wrong...

what he should have said is that someone that is new to training (regardless of age) squats and deadlifts shouldn't be lifting maximal or near maximal weights...

the problem with doing 18-20 rep sets is that when you start to fatigue your form goes to shit even with a light weight (good way for a newbie to get injured)...

the best way to learn form is to do sets of two reps for about ten sets...use a weight that you could possibly do for 20 reps for this though...another words use light weight until you've established decent form...

once you've learned good form, you can go ahead and squat/deadlift for higher reps if you want, but if your goal is to get stronger and add muscle, I see no reason to ever go above ten reps while squatting or deadlifting...

if you can get more than ten reps with a weight (while using good form), then you need to start increasing the weights used (also, don't squat by yourself, always have spotters)...

read up on all Dave Tate's squatting/deadlifting articles here and at elitefts.com...

good luck!


My son is 16 and he deadlifts regularly in the 4-10 rep range. I have him start with 4 sets of 10, then 5 of 8, 6 of 7, 7 of 6, 8 of 5 and 10 of 4, increasing the weight each session. After one cycle, he increases the weight (usually only by 2.5 kg) and starts again. Doesn't seem to have stunted his growth so far.

I will say, though, that eating enough to fuel growth as well as strength increases is an issue for him.


I'm sure that DeFranco trains some young high school athletes and uses the modified Westside template that has you working up to a 3-5 rep max.


I really don't think you should have a problem going heavy as long as you don't sacrifice your form and start with lighter reps for the first 6 months or so. I think this would be a good question for DeFranco as he has lots of experience training younger athletes.


My six year old son and nine year old daughter squat and deadlift, so you are probably OK.

Doing sets of twenty is really bad advice. DPH is steering you in the right direction.

We start kids off your age all the time.

The first thing we do is put a loose belt on them and demonstrate how to push their abs out into it. IMO, this is the single most important thing we do on the first day, teach them to use their abs correctly.

We monitor them very closely, until they can show consistent, solid form, and spend a lot of time strengthening the abs, low back, etc, in the meantime. Very light weight is used, with a focus on relatively heavier accesory movements that will assist overall stability in the core lifts.

I have a 165'er that started with us at your age. At first, he couldn't squat 65#'s with good, consistent form, and tweaked his back trying to pull 155 with his buddies one afternoon.

Fast forward 2 years later and he is one of the best squatters and deadlifters I have. His form is what I use to show new lifters what they should look like.

Patience, grasshopper.


I know a fair bit about kids and training. Faigenbaum's a great resource from the academic end just for anyone who's interested.

For the original poster, though, I sort of agree with DPH's progression. Trying to learn form in sets of 18-20 is hell. Chad's right in that you shouldn't go for maximal weights yet, though.

The progression I'd use is:

First few months (until form is solid and you make sure you straighten out any muscle tightness/imbalance issues):

5-6 sets of 5-8 with a weight that feels like you could do 2 more after the last rep.

Next few months:

4 or so sets of 10-15 for connective tissue strengthening and whatnot.

Then, start training towards your goals. If you're looking to be a powerlifter, though, I'd keep the reps above 5 on everything until you get really close to a meet.

Are you just looking to get stronger, training for a sport, something else?