When can boys start lifting weights?
A reader asks: “What’s the best age for boys to start lifting weights? I’ve heard it’s not a good idea until they are teenagers or gone through puberty. I don’t want to stunt my son’s growth”
The Short Answer:
It’s never too early for boys to have fun being active, engaging the world, lifting heavy things like their father, etc.
The Long Answer:
I like to look to the ancient past for my answers to modern questions. The fact is that for millions of years, little boys have spent much of their early lives watching and mimicking their fathers and other male members of the community. Part of this mimicking involves lifting heavy things. Whether it’s grappling with other boys (a very primitive, natural activity of learning and play that involves moving a heavy thing – another body), climbing a tree (lifting his own body), or helping their fathers on projects by collecting or carrying things, boys should be lifting relatively heavy things from an early age, in as natural a way as possible.
I personally don’t think it’s mentally healthy (for you or your son) to have him on a regimented lifting program before he’s 10. And even then, you have to keep things fun and make sure it is his choice. Make it an adventure that the two of you go on together. Make it a fun challenge. Not something that he hates with every ounce of his body because you force him to do it.
Another note: your son doesn’t have to lift weights to get the strength benefit of lifting heavy things. Body-weight activities are a great place to start. Backyard obstacles course that include rope climbs, rock walls, fireman poles, monkey bars and rings are about the best way to help your son gain the added strength he needs for proper mental and physical development until he’s mentally mature enough for the rigors of regimented weight lifting.
I strongly believe that one of the most important aspects of male development is the acquisition of physical strength. And the idea of keeping your son shielded from weight training out of of a sense of protectionism is appalling … it’s built out of a fundamentally wrong idea (that somehow gaining strength in your body is an unnatural activity).
So the moral of the story is: make strength a virtue for your son. Let him watch you. Let him mimic Obviously make sure he’s always lifting heavy things that he can handle. But give him the joy of building strength. It will help his confidence as he grows up, and give him a firm foundation from which to become a man.