Olympic Weightlifting Children and Teens Comprehensive #1 Guide

Olympic Weightlifting Children and teens

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

The German Orthopedic Association recommends that weight training emphasize 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]

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.

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.

Myself and a fellow coach Rajeev Tahil were 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 really 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.  A

ll strongly criticized the Provincial Sports Coordinator’s recommendation or interference with my program.

With 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 athlete 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 3 a week, but sometimes, due to flooding, fatigue, or school commitments, the group had to cut this back to 2 or less.

But we always tried to aim for 3. We started did 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 fist 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 really running fast with the 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.

Olympic Weightlifting Children and Teens Comprehensive #1 Guide 1

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


In fact, if we disregard the timing accuracy, the athlete did improve.

In fact, 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 actually 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.

I used data 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 parents of children they coach. All I ask for is to be credited for it (i.e., don’t remove my name). 



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 strHowever

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 regarding 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

Olympic Weightlifting Children and Teens Comprehensive #1 Guide 2

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 actually 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 actually 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?

In the days where obesity among your people is a huge (pun intended) problem, it makes sense to look at how a training program for older kids/teenagers should look. Sidebar: obesity is very hard to cure since the obese teenager will grow more fat cells and less muscle from an early age.

Additionally, an obese young adult will produce less testosterone and growth hormone than a regular weight person, building muscle and losing fat much harder. Lastly, since he won’t be playing much due to fear of embarrassment, his coordination will be off, making workouts less effective.

I guess this is just a very long-winded way of saying that you must prevent obesity at an early stage. But how to go about it? ” Go out and play” does not work anymore.

In most urban dwellings, just going-out-and-play days are long gone, so physical activity (sports) must be scheduled and organized.

Kids today have more academic responsibilities to carry while being exposed to more (mainly electronic) distractions, so unless a workout is scheduled, it will probably not happen. The advantage of gyms is that their opening hours put you, the parent or advisor, in charge of the schedule instead of following a preset schedule in a class setting.
Of course, being a personal trainer in NYC, I am interested in getting more people into the gym. ( the urban jungle of Manhattan does not lend itself to pick-up games..)

But before we discuss the actual workout and diet for fat loss and muscle gain, let’s tackle some common questions:

First things first: does weight training stunt growth? That’s what I was told many, many moons ago when I first picked up a pair of dumbbells. Well, as purely anecdotal evidence, consider this: I grew to 6,2″, my brother even to 6,8″. But let’s look at the since: will picking up dumbbells end your growth prematurely?

No. That is an old myth that has long been put to rest. Only steroids will close the epiphyseal growth plate early. Before gyms, and told kids to do push-ups and pull-ups. Now answer me the following: how is a push-up different from a bench press and a pull-up from lat pulldown?

However, many kids can not do a push-up, much less a pull-up, so the constant failure at attempting to do one will lead to overboiling frustrations and quitting. The smarter way to go about things is to build up confidence and strength by gradually increasing weight in the bench press and lat pulldown until the athlete can venture into the bodyweight exercise.

Also, weight lifting does NOT make you inflexible. Think about it: weight training done right is a dynamic stretch, which improves flexibility. The only way you would lose flexibility is by gaining beyond the natural amount of muscle, which would be hard to do without the help of drugs.


1. When can a kid start training?

From age 12 on, with the understanding that actual muscle gain will set in mainly after 16 years of age for the simple reason that most energy is diverted to growth. Strength gains, however, will occur along with some fat loss. Adult supervision is a must, and this is where you will butt heads ( just remembering my own run-ins with authority figures at that age), so it is worth a thought to get a neutral person such as a coach involved.


2. How should teenagers train?

Basically, we can put anyone ( not just teenagers) in one of two categories: those who have experience with sports and have more control over their body movements and those that have not. And can trust those with some sports experience with a free weight/ machine mix. Kids who are more on the sedentary side should use mainly machines and single-joint exercises.

The goal should be for both groups to manage two to three whole-body workouts a week for one year to establish consistency without overloading their recovery abilities. Once in a while, a session with a certified personal trainer could help check up on form and proper technique. We were all prone to train with weights that were too heavy in the sloppy form to impress our brethren at this age. Luckily, I never got injured, 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/80% clean. This way, the teenager can actually have a life.


4. Supplements?

There really 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 answer this question about the Olympic Weightlifting only – a skill-based athletic discipline that requires working with a qualified coaching instructor.

Weightlifting for children and adults is safe, fun, and a terrific method to build athleticism, a high level of fitness, self-confidence outside the gym, and academics.

I recommend responsible parents to look into Olympic Weightlifting classes for children in your state. (USA Only)

With proper supervision, children at a very young age can begin a safe weightlifting journey.

The level of maturity and if willing to follow instructions may be different from one child to another. 

Olympic Style weightlifting classes are available for all ages in my state, usually conducted in the CrossFit boxes.

Look for a Weightlifting Club near you and ask and look for Olympic Weightlifting Certifications from USA WEIGHTLIFTING, the governing body of USA Olympic Weightlifting athletes. Some of the coaches specialize in teaching children.

Find a club.

Thank You



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