Weightlifting and Kids

By Dr. Jon Gary

In Coaching, Kids, Videos

March 09, 2011

Video Article

“Having no injuries in any sport or activity is too high a bar, right? So there are injuries, but they’re just very few that are associated with weight training,” says Dr. Jon Gary, a member of CrossFit Kids.

When people think about kids and weight training, the injury most commonly feared is growth-plate damage, which can lead to stunted growth. Gary says that type of injury is an acute injury, like breaking a bone, and doesn’t accumulate over time or repetitions.

“But there is absolutely no study, there is no evidence that just because you lift weights for a long time means that you’re not going to grow,” he says.

According to Gary’s research, there is a very low incidence for any weightlifting-related injury, and those that happen are more frequently accidental than a result of exertion. He compares youth sport injury rates and finds an astounding discrepancy.

“So we’re talking, you know, three orders of magnitude greater—thousand times, ten-thousand times more injuries in competitive sports than there are in weightlifting—and this is kids’ weightlifting being trained by scientists, not by professional trainers or people even knowledgeable in that,” he says.

The studies recommend a strength-training program specifically designed for kids. According to Gary, CrossFit Kids fits the bill. He shares how CrossFit Kids approaches weightlifting with children.

12min 0sec

Additional reading: Old School for New Ideas by Bob Guere, published Dec. 13, 2010.

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9 Comments on “Weightlifting and Kids”


wrote …


As much as I liked all of Jon's lectures, this was the bit I most wanted to have available to re-watch.


wrote …

In 2006, while working as a Health and Fitness Director with a YMCA, I attempted to implement a weight-training program for children. Armed with the complaint that I was going to harm children’s bone platelets; I was met with great opposition despite information I obtained from the ACSM stating otherwise . I am excited to see CrossFit Kids trainers and coaches recognize that there is no empirical evidence to support this claim and train children as they should be, like athletes!


wrote …

Ppl doing weights and Oly lifting are generly of smaller size because of natural selection. It is the same with gymnastics. Those ppl aren´t small because they train gymnastics but because they were selected from a very young age because of their size. Smaller ppl have lower center of gravity which helps with the gymnastics movements and with Oly lifts. Longer arms mean longer time for the bar to travel which means greater force that has to be produced and conquered. Simple!!!


wrote …

great video. I train a 5th grader whose doctor will not let him lift over 35lbs but yet allows him to do handstand holds (go figure). The system is flawed because for the most part you have doctors that have no clue about their own fitness let alone a child's fitness deciding the workout limits of their patientswhile freely letting them participate in contact sports like youth football. Luckily it gives us a chance to work form on numerous lifts but at the same time it is frustrating when the 5th grader does a one-arm power snatch with 35lbs without it being a challenge.


wrote …

Immensely valuable stuff. Thanks.


wrote …

thx dr. jon and cfkids.

we have a 7month year old boy that will grow up in the crossfit culture and way because mom and dad are crossfitters :)

this piece will help alot as he grows. thx again guys!


wrote …

This was an extremely informative video. Thank you.


wrote …

Good Stuff!


Having to deal with arbitrary limits like that does inspire creativity. When the kid can do pistols on a wobble board with a 35lb kettlebell overhead have the doctor come over and try it out.

Unmarked sandbags could also be an interesting approach. Don't weigh them, just keep adding sand until you get the appropriate resistance. Same thing with dry bags filled with water. Empty them out after every workout. You can honestly say that you have no idea how much they are lifting, but you make sure that they do it safely, with perfect technique. ;-)

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