There is no need to avoid resistance training (weight lifting) until physeal closure

Phys Sportsmed. 2013 Nov;41(4):101-5. doi: 10.3810/psm.2013.11.2041.


The physis, or growth plate, is relatively weaker than the surrounding bone; as a result, individuals with immature skeletons are at risk for growth plate injury from forces that would not harm an adult. Based on the knowledge that immature growth plates are weaker than adult growth plates, it is not known with certainty whether or not adolescents can participate safely in resistance training programs. Because medical literature does not definitively answer if it is safe for adolescents to pursue strength-training programs, we previously surveyed 500 experts in sports medicine to determine whether they agreed with the statement "resistance training ('weight lifting') should be avoided until physeal closure." Overall, respondents answered that "this statement is very likely false." In this article, we interpret the experts' survey responses by reviewing the basic and clinical sciences implicit in the question, as well as the literature regarding adolescent outcomes. Although the avoidance of resistance training by adolescents is theoretically appealing, we found that the data indicate properly supervised weight programs are not associated with increased risk of acute injury. However, the literature offers no insight about the long-term implications of weight lifting on growth plates. In sum, the expert consensus from our survey that strength training is safe for individuals with immature skeletons is consistent with data from medical literature.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Growth Plate / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Resistance Training*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Lifting*