Can excessive bodybuilding at an early age inhibit or stop growth (height increase)? I am getting mixed answers; some say several selective exercises can do so and some say it is not a problem at all.

It is claimed that this is a myth, but apparently many people still believe it. From here:

Many parents, coaches and pediatricians remain convinced that weight training by children will “result in short stature, epiphyseal plate” — or growth plate — “damage, lack of strength increases due to a lack of testosterone and a variety of safety issues.”


2 Answers 2


Unsupervised sports (including weight training/bodybuilding) can lead to injuries which can affect growth. That said, supervised weight training does not stunt growth (Malina, 2006). In fact, even high intensity workouts do not negatively affect growth if done under proper supervision (Ratel, 2011).

  • 1
    Also this ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21178368 "excess of anything is not good" is a bit of a platitude like "everything in moderation". Excess just means more than enough, I'd prefer to have an excess of breathable air than a lack of it.
    – daniel
    Jun 8, 2019 at 1:29
  • @daniel point taken. I'll edit the answer. And thanks for the article.
    Jun 11, 2019 at 9:57
  • @daniel : That depends I think on how you interpret the term "excess of anything is not good". For me, it means "if you increase the amount of anything to a large enough point, it will become harmful in some way". Now, there may be a few exceptions to this (e.g. the Universe may have an infinitely large amount of space), but generally speaking if you push a parameter of a system big enough, something will start breaking. With air, if you increase the concentration (pressure) far enough, you get various forms of gas toxicity. Overall, as far as "platitudes" go, it's pretty accurate, Jun 23, 2019 at 23:15
  • even if not absolutely so. Jun 23, 2019 at 23:16
  • That said, a better platitude in the same vein might be "Always act mindfully of your safe and optimum operating parameters". This covers both that there is no one single point when things become "excessive" (which to me in this phrase has an intended meaning of exactly that, where it becomes high enough to be harmful), but also covers where that deficiency can be harmful as well. Moreover, it also allows for the rare exception to the rule (e.g. take the risk to save a life) by "act mindfully", instead of "never". THINK about what you're doing. Jun 23, 2019 at 23:20

There is nothing inherently damaging about weight training that would stunt the growth of a young person.

The basis of the claim was from the idea that the still active/open growth plates at the end of bones would be damaged by injury, preventing further growth. Indeed, injuries to the growth plates can stunt growth.

Dr. Rob Raponi, a naturopathic doctor and certified sports nutritionist, says the misconception that lifting weights stunts growth likely stems from the fact that injuries to growth plates in immature bones can stunt growth.

However, it is possible that poorly executed weight lifting could result in such an injury.

However, he points out that this is something that can result from poor form, weights that are too heavy, and a lack of supervision. But it’s not the result of lifting weights correctly.

What this myth doesn’t mention is that participation in almost any type of sport or recreational activity carries a risk of injury. In fact, about 15 to 30 percent of all childhood fractures involve the growth plates.

So, it can, but generally not if done correctly.

Healthline: Whydo people believe tha lifting weights stunts growth?

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