Weightlifting Children and Teens

Last Updated on January 8, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

 DaeOlympic Weightlifting Children and teens

Posted by some top NZ Track and S&C Coaches.

The German Orthopedic Association recommends that weight training emphasizes skill and technique begins at 6 years of age.

Similarly, the two theories that weight training early stunted growth and lead to epiphysis damage all traced to a study of Japanese children in coal mines during WW2. Also, they stated there are no known cases of epiphysis damage from strength training, and there is no physiological mechanism that could cause stunting of growth. Those Japanese children were malnourished and were not exposed to sunlight[Vit D deficient] (EXPLOITATION OR EXPECTATION? n.d.)

Expanding on that, one of the best sources of information on weight training in adolescents comes from studies involving “Faigenbaum AD,” as is pretty much the expert and go-to – using a simple search of finding articles involving Faigenbaum will find you a wealth of information about training adolescents (Faigenbaum, 2013).

They’re also who I spent a lot of time citing over 4-5 years…

Olympic Weightlifting Teens and Children

Weightlifting Children and teens Zamboanga Del Sur

I found a reference to this article. At the same time, I was previously serving as a Head Coach at Zamboanga Del Sur Sports Academy.

And a fellow coach Rajeev Tahil was advised by the Provincial Sports Coordinator.

Athletes should not be doing weights 3 months before a meet and advised athletes should be staying away from Olympic lifts.

I consulted three sports scientists, including Jay Futalan, the Strength and Conditioning coach, with the national athletes’ PSC. Jay is most notable for working with Hidilyn Diaz, who won an Olympic Silver Medal. So Jay knows his stuff he works with the national athletes. Jay even stated that no weight training for three months could lead to a decline in performance and ‘de-training of athletes. Futalan said regarding power cleans, there is no problem. It’s even beneficial for athletes to develop neuromuscular responsive time and explosive power, leading to increased speed.

As well as Futalan, I had consulted Mr. Airnel Abarra, Athletics coach of Ateneo De Manila, and Richard Agosto, a national weightlifting trainer.  

ll strongly criticized the Provincial Sports Coordinator’s recommendation or interference with my program. Some conditions, I will highlight later.


1. Midsalip, Zamboanga Del Sur Weightlifting Children and teens Program

In fact, even during the Batang Pinoy kids from Midsalip, in Zamboanga Del Sur had competed in the 2016 Batang Pinoy Finals in Tagum.

Under Coach Robert Colonia of Zamboanga Del Sur, they had won 2 Golds and a bronze for the province in weight lifting. 

Shydijean D. Tormis even set a competition record in the 28kg Category. 2kg cat. 13-17-year-old gold medal Michelle Bangquiao 32kgcat.

Under 12 yr old bronze KyrRyan Tormis  38kg cat. 13-17 yr old bronze. And this is the third year of medals in the successful program.

Weightlifting Children and Teens


1 Silver N 1 Bronze Medal

  1. Ricardo landing Jr silver
  2. An-an Esib Tormis bronze

Weightlifting Children and Teens

2015 NTN ‘ L BATANG PINOY CEBU CITY 3 Silvers N 1 Bronze

  1. Jerlyn Balives silver
  2. Ricardo landing Jr silver
  3. Arvin jay cataques silver
  4. Anelyn Balives bronze.

While kids often start learning the basics of how to lift even earlier than 13.

Weightlifting Teens and Children
Young athletes learning how to lift from Coach Colonia’s group Weightlifting Teens and Children


So if kids this young can train for Weight Lifting in that sport, why can’t kids this young do weightlifting as part of an athletic program?


2. Regarding Safety Applied For Power Clean Exercise Parameters

  1. I was there supervising the weights session.
  2. We did an appropriate warm-up with basic movements.
  3. This is not the first time we have been doing this lift we gradually built up over several months starting in June, so the movements were not unfamiliar to the athlete in question.
  4. I lessened the amount lifted or stopped the workout if I saw the athlete struggling with the lift.
  5. I placed a bench as a safety catch to prevent the athlete from falling below parallel.

One female sprinter I had coached was power cleaning an amount of 28kg, at 47kg bodyweight age 13.

And can consider this a safe weight as it’s half her body weight; she could do this in 5 sets of 5.

When it started with me in March of 2016 was running 14.5 for the 100. We started on a weights circuit prepared by our previous strength and conditioning coach.

A combination of correct movement teaching via drills, step-over ankle drills, and power cleans what the athlete attributed to her improvements when asked.


Weight training started in June-July of 2016, weight sessions co-aligned with sprint sessions.

We were doing like three a week, but sometimes, due to flooding, fatigue, or school commitments, the group had to cut this back to two or less.

But we always tried to aim for three; we started doing circuits training, which worked on legs, arms, upper body, and core on the same day.

Similarly alternating between legs and upper body and finishing with core and arm swing exercises.

As the months progressed, we moved down from 5 sets of 12-15 reps with compound exercises, eventually down to 5 sets of 5, and 2 to 3 sets of 3 in power exercises.

As her strength increased in the gym and her knowledge of movement, so did her 100 m time. She went from 14.5 to 13.3, plus 4 times wind-aided 12.9 (the first when she was 13 years old), and 33.5 to 28.1 in the 200.

The athlete liked running with the wind behind her as she felt running fast with assistance.

The wind was usually around a 4 to 6 following wind; it was quite significant.

The athlete did not like committing to the speed endurance work required to run a 200 and needed many improvements on bend work, which we did not focus on.

As the athlete wanted to concentrate on 100m training.

At the front in one of the 12.9 wind-aided runs. Weightlifting Children and Teens


If we disregard the timing accuracy, the athlete did improve.

If we disregard the timing accuracy, the athlete did improve a lot as I witnessed them go from 7 meters behind an opponent from another team over the period to 2-3m in front of them frequently.

In conclusion, the athlete went from 4th placer at the district/provincial meet in Elementary to the silver medal in Grade 7 first-year High school the following year.

By all virtue, and should have sent them to the Palarong Pambansa (National HS Champs in Antique).

But as Zamboanga City was the winning team, this was their choice to make, not ours.

As I read the works of French coach PJ Vazel, he noted that sprint training over the last 100 years had become less about running longer distances in the fall and spring.

Although in the Philippines, many coaches still get their sprinters to do a lot of mileage.

And instead, the amount of time spent in the gym has gone up.

For the elementary, this meant medicine ball and some agility games. For the Secondary, this meant the gym.

weightlifting for children
Weightlifting Children and Teens

Below is a supplementary article I used as part of my post, along with having for reference a book called Youth Strength Training by Faigenhaum and Westcott.


3. Olympic Weightlifting Children and Teens: Safety and Growth

Most weightlifting coaches and most participants (athletes, officials, or club directors).

Also, I have to debunk myths or beliefs about the great sport of weightlifting.

Similarly, many beliefs can find roots in history.


Most negative – but popular- beliefs often rely on

  • hearsay
  • a misunderstanding of the sport of weightlifting
  • anecdotal evidence.


One such belief is that weightlifting is not good for children and teens as it can

  • stunt their growth
  • injure their body because it is ”not mature enough
  • or that the sport is not a positive one for athletes their age.


However, I would like to change this perception of our sport. Also, not only do I not believe that this sport is bad for children. 

Also, empirical evidence supports the participation of children and teens in weightlifting.

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I wrote this short essay to help shed light on the belief that weightlifting is a bad activity for children and teens. Data used from scientific inquiries rather than anecdotal evidence.  I give my approval to any coach or club who wants to use/share this essay at their club or with the parents of children they coach. 



I can not put words – or select actions- for every coach involved in this sport and only speak for myself.

And I refuse to subject myself to the use of anecdotal data only to justify my actions and beliefs. For instance, injuries can happen in any sports and any lifestyle activities such as driving a car or crossing a street

However, also, the professional coach’sever is to be conscious of the risks and reduce all risks to the minimum.

Like any field (whether professional or sporting fields), in conclusion, some people know better than others, which means that some people understand better the reality of their fields and what to do.


For instance, when working with young individuals

  • it is your duty as a coach to create age-specific programs that result in technique education
  • balanced development of the body
  • improved psychological ability (self-esteem, good sportsmanship, and appreciation for hard work)
  • adequate development of athletic attributes.
  • All of that has to happen in a supervised and safe environment.

This is more than my firm belief; it is also my motto. Moreover, I think that overlooking these aspects is failing to do your job.

4. PSI Article

The Philippines Sports Institute Shared this article

It was written by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) by Dr. Avery Faigenhaum. Whose book I had read on Strength coaching for kids.


His key points summarised misconceptions of strength training for Weightlifting Teens and Children.


  1. Strength Training is Unsafe for Children
  2. Strength Training will stunt the growth of Children
  3. Children will experience bone growth plate damage as a result of Strength Training
  4. Children cannot increase their strength; they do not have enough testosterone
  5. Strength training is only for young athletes


5. Weightlifting Teens and Children Conclusion Strength Training is ok if the following parameters are observed

  1. Safe environment
  2. Adult supervision
  3. Movements taught correctly
  4. Age-Specific Exercises
  5. Principles of Rest and Recovery followed.
  6. Weights lifted controlled

6. Plyometrics and Olympic Lifting

Many coaches and parents wonder which training methods are safe and effective for kids. School-aged children often participate in athletics, and sometimes scholarships are even on the line. Some of the most popular kinds of training for kids are traditional weight lifting,

plyometrics, and Olympic weightlifting. In a study this month in the Journal of Strength and

Conditioning Research, researchers looked at the effectiveness of each of these modalities.

Traditional resistance training methods, which are essentially basic weight lifting programs, are thought to be good for kids because of their proven track record. Also, traditional weight lifting favors the development of lean muscle mass and strength.

In theory, this effect would help child athletes perform better at their sport.

The second group of exercises the researchers studied was plyometrics. Plyometric exercises are seen as close to what an athlete experiences when competing. Plyometrics’s basic idea is to develop power, and this end is achieved by mimicking reactions that normally occur in sports.

Traditional resistance training methods, which are essentially basic weight lifting programs, are thought to be good for kids because of their proven track record. Also, traditional weight lifting favors the development of lean muscle mass and strength.


In theory, this effect would help child athletes perform better at their sport.

The second group of exercises the researchers studied was plyometrics.

Plyometric exercises are seen as closer to what an athlete experiences when competing.

Plyometrics’s basic idea is to develop power, and this end is achieved by mimicking reactions that normally occur in sports.

Despite the authors’ assurances that these methods are completely safe, they also acknowledge the time it takes to learn the Olympic lifts.

I have worked with countless kids, and many times enforcing safe forms can be difficult.

I think the researchers’ recommendations might be a bit liberal, especially in the case of group weight training, where it’s harder to ensure proper form.

But it seems that performance-wise, Olympic lifts and plyos might be better for kids after all. In conclusion, with good coaching, these training approaches can be safe as well.


When should I start lifting weights?

It makes sense to consider what a training program for older children and teenagers should look like in the modern era when obesity among your people is a major (pun intended) concern. Side note: Since obese kids develop more fat cells and fewer muscle cells from an early age, obesity is exceedingly difficult to treat.

Additionally, a young adult who is obese will create less growth hormone and testosterone than someone of a healthy weight, making it much tougher to gain muscle and lose fat. Finally, because he won’t be playing much out of fear of looking foolish, his coordination will be off, which will make exercises less effective.

This is probably just a very long-winded way of emphasizing that obesity must be stopped in its early stages. But how should one proceed? “Go outside and play” is no longer effective.

The days of simply going outside to play are long gone in most metropolitan settings, thus physical activity (sports) must be planned and coordinated.

Today’s children have greater academic obligations and are exposed to more (mostly electronic) distractions; therefore, unless a workout is scheduled, it is unlikely to occur. The benefit of gyms is that you, the parent or advisor, are in control of the timetable thanks to their opening hours rather than having to adhere to a predefined schedule in a classroom.
Of course, as a personal trainer in NYC, my goal is to attract additional clients to the gym. (Manhattan’s urban jungle is not conducive to pick-up games.)

But first, let’s address some frequently asked issues before we go over the real exercise and diet for muscle growth and fat loss.

First things first: Does lifting heavy objects prevent growth? I was informed of this many years ago when I picked up my first set of dumbbells. Well, take the following as merely anecdotal evidence: My brother even reached 6,8′′, while I reached 6,2′′. But let’s consider the implications: Will lifting dumbbells prematurely stop your growth?

No. That is an ancient fallacy that has been debunked for a long time. The epiphyseal growth plate will only prematurely close when taking steroids. Before gyms, parents instructed children to perform pushups and pullups. Now tell me how a push-up differs from a bench press and how a pull-up differs from a lat pulldown.

However, many children are unable to perform either a push-up or a pull-up, thus their repeated inability to do either will cause them to become very frustrated and give trying. The better strategy is to gradually increase weight in the bench press and lat pulldown until the athlete is confident enough to attempt the bodyweight exercise.

Additionally, lifting weights DOES NOT make you rigid. Consider this: when done correctly, weight training is a dynamic stretch that increases flexibility. The only way you could acquire more muscle than you naturally have is by losing flexibility, which is difficult to achieve without the aid of medicines.


1. When can a kid start training?

Starting at age 12, with the knowledge that real muscle building won’t happen until about age 16 for the simple reason that most of your energy is going into growth. However, there will be some fat loss along with strength gains. Because adult supervision is necessary and here is where arguments will occur (just thinking back to my run-ins with authority figures when I was that age), it could be a good idea to incorporate a third party, like a coach.


2. How should teenagers train?

In essence, we may categorize anyone (not just teenagers) into one of two groups: those with an athletic experience and greater motor control, and those without. and can put their trust in athletes who have used a combination of free weights and machines. Children who tend to be more sedentary should mostly perform machines and single-joint exercises.

To create regularity without taxing their ability to recuperate, both groups should be able to handle two to three whole-body workouts each week for a whole year. A session with a licensed personal trainer now and then could be beneficial to review the form and technique. At this age, we were all prone to training with excessively high weights while using the sloppy form. Fortunately, I never suffered an injury, but others did.


3. What to do in terms of diet?

In terms of diet, unless the child is obese, it makes sense to eat a calorie surplus since we are dealing with developing bodies and would like stronger muscles and ligaments. Bodyweight (lbs) x 15 or bodyweight (kg) x 30 would be a good start for the daily calorie intake. Since metabolism is super fast at that age, we easily make room for 20% junk food and 80% clean. This way, the teenager can have a life.


4. Supplements?

There is no need for supplements, albeit a multivitamin might help combat the usual teenager’s adversity toward anything green. Most teenagers are cash strapped, so you will be doing them a favor by preventing wasteful spending.


5. What to do after one year of training?

After training consistently for a year, you can bump the workout frequency to 4x a week, thinking of a lower/ upper body setup. The critical thing is not to make training a chore but to keep it interesting since you want to create a lifestyle, not a teenage bodybuilding champion. If the kid is talented, you will know but stay in tune with the teenager’s fitness goals, not yours.


6. Other things to look for…

Like any other sport, bodybuilding offers great benefits, as it will teach the youngster passion, dedication, self-actualization, and the knowledge that success does not come overnight. Make sure to keep training and the fitness journey interesting yet challenging, and the results will be motivating enough to stay on a healthy pass.

Weightlifting Teens and Children
Weightlifting  Children and Teens


I exclusively address Olympic Weightlifting in my response because it is a skill-based sporting discipline that necessitates working with a certified coaching instructor.

Weightlifting is a great way to develop athleticism, a high level of fitness, self-confidence outside of the gym, and intellectual skills in both children and adults. It is also safe and enjoyable.

I advise responsible parents to research children’s Olympic weightlifting classes in your state. (U.S. Only)

Young children can start lifting weights safely with the right supervision.

One child may be more mature than another, and some kids may be more eager to comply with rules.

In my state, all ages can take Olympic Style weightlifting lessons, which are typically held in CrossFit boxes.

Find a weightlifting club in your area, then enquire about and look for Olympic Weightlifting Certifications from USA WEIGHTLIFTING, the organization that oversees American Olympic Weightlifting competitors. Some of the coaches focus on instructing young people.

Find a club.

Thank You


EXPLOITATION OR EXPECTATION? (n.d.). Taylor & Francis; www.tandfonline.com. Retrieved August 21, 2022, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14672710320000061479?journalCode=rcra20

Faigenbaum,, A.D., Micheli L.J. (2017). ACSM Sports Medicine Basics: Youth Strength Training. American College of Sports Medicine. https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/smb-youth-strength-training.pdf

Faigenbaum, A.D., Lloyd, R., Myger G. (2013, Nov). Youth Resistance Training: Past Practices, New Perspectives, and Future Directions. Pediatric Exercise Science 25(4): 591-604. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258431143_Youth_Resistance_Training_Past_Practices_New_Perspectives_and_Future_Directions

Tønnessen, E., Svendsen, I. S., Olsen, I. C., Guttormsen, A., & Haugen, T. (2015, June 4). Performance Development in Adolescent Track and Field Athletes According to Age, Sex and Sport Discipline. Performance Development in Adolescent Track and Field Athletes According to Age, Sex and Sport Discipline | PLOS ONE; journals.plos.org. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0129014






By Andrew Pirie

Andrew was elected Vice President of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians in 2020 after being a member for 7 years. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant, and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. And Currently is Consultant Coach with VMUF 2021- Current editor and chief of Pinoyathletics.info, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is  Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. Currently working towards a Masters Degree in Education. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here http://www.pinoyathletics.info/coaching-2/

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