Today’s Ask Lee question comes from Tim Johnson of Chicago:
QUESTION: “Hi Mr. Labrada, I am 13 years old and want to begin weight training. Will weight training stunt my growth and keep me from growing taller? What exercises can I do and how do you recommend I start?”
Watch The Video To See Lee’s Answer
ANSWER: Tim, I’m glad to hear that you want to start weight training. I have three boys myself, and although the youngest one is now in his late teens, they have all gone through the same phase you’re going through. I’m happy to report that they are all still training, and have all put on lots of muscle.
What I’m going to recommend to you is the same thing that I recommended to my boys when they were your age. And that is, to perform as many exercises as you can using your own bodyweight. For example, these bodyweight exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, and bodyweight squats and lunges. The idea right now is to challenge your muscles with high repetition bodyweight exercises, and avoid the compression that can come from weight training.
At 13, you have to watch out for axial compression on your spine and bones. This can happen not only in weight training, but also in some dynamic sports such as gymnastics and football.
At your age, putting compression on your bones or your spine as you would with weight training can create microtrauma and disrupt growth cells. Leave the weight training alone until you are at least 14 years old.
Once you’re 14 years old, you can ease into weight training, but keep in mind that the weights you work out with should allow you to perform at least 12-15 repetitions. Anything heavier than that, can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and areas of cartilage that haven’t yet turned to bone, such as your growth plates. This is especially true if you use bad technique and sacrifice form in favor of lifting bigger weights.
As you turn 16, you can then begin to lift heavier weights to build bigger muscles and strength, but keep the reps in the 8-10 repetition weight. Again, make sure that you are using proper form, and are supervised by someone who knows the proper way to perform exercises. This is where the guidance of a good strength coach or personal trainer can come in handy. Under no circumstances, should you load up the bar and perform low rep maximal heavy squats, deadlifts, or power cleans, which can cause big loads and strain on your spine and long bones.
Tim, I hope that this has helped you. Get after your program, and you will be bigger and stronger before you know it.
I’m Lee Labrada, your lean body coach.
Yours for a Lean Body,
Your Lean Body Coach™
About the Author: One of the world’s most well-known and celebrated bodybuilding legends, Lee Labrada holds 22 professional bodybuilding titles, including the IFBB Mr. Universe. He is one of few pro bodybuilders in history to consistently place in the top four at the Mr. Olympia competition (the “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding) for seven consecutive years—a feat he shares with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He has appeared on the covers of more than 100 bodybuilding and fitness magazines and has been featured on CNBC, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and ESPN as a fitness and nutrition expert.
Lee was also inducted into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, is an Internationally known best selling fitness authos and holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. For more about Lee please visit his page here: Lee Labrada’s page.