T Nation

Younger Lifters

Hi everyone

Just wondered what anyones thoughts were on what age is acceptable to starting lifting weights. With the hormonal state during teens I assume this would be a prime time to begin.

Many Thanks

I would say around 14, but it really depends on the development of the teen. Some are more physically developed earlier than other of the same age. But by at least 16 one could begin working out (sensibly)and make great progress without incurring long lasting injuries. And you’re correct about the teens being an optimum time concerning hormones. They are pumping hard in a teen, which can lead to quick gains.

I’d say anytime in the double-digits. The biggest issue will be particular program design. I’d introduce them to exercise with 10+ reps per set, and go from there over the course of 8 weeks or so.

No matter what age you start with, the rules would be:

  • No muscular failure, ever, never, ever ever.
  • Compound exercises are like water, more is always better. Along these lines, machines should be used as a last resort, if at all. Bodyweight movements, free weights, and other ‘objects’ (medicine balls, backpacks, sandbags) should have preference.
  • Recovery is key; you may need to reel in their enthusiasm. They should have more rest days each week than work days.
  • Technique above all else. If they want to cheat a movement, they don’t get to play with the iron.
  • Full range of motion, at all times. Squats are deeeeeep. Pull-ups are dead-hang. And push-ups are nose to the floor.

If you’re talking about training “heavy”, I’d hold off until mid-to-late teens. And even then, only after a similar higher-rep intro phase. And still, not to muscular failure.

I think it’s acceptable to start lifting weights as young as they are interested. They shouldn’t be pushed, and they should be guided.

I’ve read several places that concerns about stunted growth, etc… are severe overreactions, but I would consider 14 or 15 a good time to start lifting heavier.