Strength training for teens – is this a good thing?

The Myth

Children and teens who are lifting weights…for many parents this is a very scary thought! Questions such as “Doesn’t this increase the risk of injury?” and “Won’t this negatively impact my child’s growth?” often arise. In this blog we will tackle these misguided notions and hopefully create a better understanding towards resistance training within this population.

 Strength training for teens – is this a good thing?

Strength training has many unique benefits for children. Not only can it improve their strength up to 50% (1), it can even help reduce the risk of general activity-related injuries, and sport specific injuries in some sports such as football, gymnastics and running (2). Additionally, in children who experience difficulties with weight and body composition, strength training can improve their metabolic profile and help in the management of conditions such as diabetes, contribute to the prevention or attenuation of obesity, and may even improve mental health (2).

The infographic below depicts the concurrent myths and facts related to strength training in children and adolescents (3).


According to current American College of Sports Medicine guidelines children and adolescents should be performing at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises on a daily basis, or at least 3 times per week. Furthermore, these guidelines also recommend 60 minutes of resistance training – up to three times per week (4).

Unfortunately, a large sum of this population does not meet the guidelines mentioned above. In fact, 81% of adolescents aged between 11-17 y/o are insufficiently physically active worldwide (5). This trend could partly be attributed to the increase in screen time among young children (6). Besides screen activities children engage in many other sedentary behaviors, e.g., sitting in the classroom and doing homework for up to 8 hours a day (6).

So, what’s the deal with strength training!?

The latest research indicates that appropriately prescribed and supervised resistance training can offer unique benefits for children and adolescents. It is however important to do strength training with proper technique, under the eye of a qualified health professional (7). And it should follow the recommended loads, sets and repetitions appropriate for the child’s age (7). This is what we at Waves try to establish. Under the eye of our physiotherapist Femke, your kids will have fun and practice resistance training in a safe way!



  1.   Dahab, K.S. and McCambridge, T.M. (2009) Strength training in children and adolescents: Raising the bar for young athletes?, Sports health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  2.   Falk, B., & Dotan, R. (2019). Strength training in children. Harefuah, 158(8), 515-519.
  3. Faigenbaum, A. D., Stracciolini, A., MacDonald, J. P., & Rial Rebullido, T. (2022). Mythology of youth resistance training. Br. J. Sports Med.
  4. Liguori, G. & American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). (2021). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (Eleventh, Paperback). Wolters Kluwer.
  5. Chaput, J. P., Willumsen, J., Bull, F., Chou, R., Ekelund, U., Firth, J., … & Katzmarzyk, P. T. (2020). 2020 WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour for children and adolescents aged 5–17 years: summary of the evidence. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), 1-9.
  6. Hidding, L.M. et al. (2017) Why do children engage in sedentary behavior? child- and parent-perceived determinants, International journal of environmental research and public health. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  7. Myers, A.M., Beam, N.W. and Fakhoury, J.D. (2017) Resistance training for children and adolescents, Translational pediatrics. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  8. The Neuroprotective Effects of Exercise: Maintaining a Healthy Brain Throughout Aging. Brain Plast, 2018. 4(1): p. 17-52.


Author: Femke Rits & Maarten Wuyts
Physiotherapists at Waves



This site cannot and doesn’t contain medical/health advice. The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. 


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