Does strength training negatively affect the epiphyseal plates? (No!)
Now to the facts:
The most common prejudice, which is mentioned again and again, is that the so-called epiphyseal joints (growth joints at the ends of the bones, which are open until the end of growth and thus enable the bones to grow) are said to close prematurely.
In fact, there is no internationally published study that would have observed such a phenomenon! Of course, there are situations where this could happen, for example in the event of a broken bone or extreme and years of stress (such as professional gymnastics). But this is definitely not the case with controlled strength training.
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Basically, it can be said that the bones gain stability through appropriate stress and controlled strength training could even contribute to healthy bone growth .
How should adolescents best practice strength training?
Another question would be whether children should train on strength machines, with dumbbells or “only” with their own body weight.
This cannot be answered so easily: it depends …
Possibility 1: strength equipment
If children do not fit the weight machines solely because of their height, this option is eliminated. If a young person has the right size, in my view, there is nothing to be said against device-based strength training. An advantage here would even be that the movement is more or less predetermined and therefore hardly any deviating movements are possible.
Possibility 2: dumbbells
Training with dumbbells, on the other hand, is somewhat more demanding and therefore much more difficult to learn. The motto here is that you have to “earn the right” to work with the barbell through good technique. Here, extensive technical training with very light weights would have to be carried out and then evaluated who should / should be able to train with what and when.
Option 3: bodyweight
Training with your own body weight is of course always a means of choice, but also depending on the body weight. An overweight child will have more problems with this. That’s why a lat pull would probably make more sense here than a pull-up bar.
Is strength training effective for adolescents at all? (Yes!)
Finally, the question remains to be clarified whether strength training before puberty is also effective, keyword: hormones and Co.
And this question can also be answered clearly with a YES, since the hormonal situation in puberty is firstly favorable and secondly strength is built up through improved neuromuscular cooperation. And that can perhaps be trained even more effectively in younger years.
In summary, it can be said that controlled and instructed strength training for children and adolescents can make sense. Measured by the risk of being injured on a soccer field, the risk in the fitness club is negligible.