It was not too long ago that the question was posed as to whether teenagers should or even could be doing some heavy lifting in the gym. Although I myself absolutely love lifting and can not wait for my daughters to grow up and hopefully share this passion with me, I firmly believe that heavy lifting for teenagers is not the most appropriate form of exercise. This is especially true if they do not have a personal trainer at their side. My reasons for this are that a teenager's body is still developing and growing, and therefore heavy forces can alter post as well as growth; teenagers also tend to want to “show-off” to their friends by lifting heavy weights and may injure themselves in the process; finally, fitness facilities can not ensure proper oversight of all members for all exercises, teenagers are there left to figure things out on their own.
To begin with and what is essentially the main reason that teenagers should not be lifting heavy weights is that their bodies have not reached a point where they are fully developed. This means that heavy forces running through the body can affect the way their body is growing and developing. An example would be a teenage boy who wants to develop a large chest but neglects to train his back or legs. Such a training would eventually lead to body imbalances, mostly at the level of the spine, which would result in chronic pain and possibly permanent damage.
The second greatest danger of allowing teenagers to lift heavy is that they will tend to want to impress their friends, especially the boys. The chances of them choosing a weight that is too heavy and that will require compensation from their other muscles and multiplied and will result in injury. Although these injuries may develop over time, I have seen many instances where the injuries were immediate and acute. These include torn muscles and tendons, weights dropped on the feet, face and torso, leading to broken bones, and the list can go on.
Lastly, most fitness facilities will not allow teenagers to exercise there unless they are accompanied by an adult who takes responsibility for their actions. Fitness facilities, including gyms and even the simplest of weight rooms have a responsibility to keep their members safe. There is staff hired to watch participants and make sure they are performing exercises properly and avoiding the possibility of injury. Unfortunately, when facilities are crowded at peak hours, there is only so much the staff can supervise and too often the actions of teenagers put them at a higher risk for such injuries. Therefore, many fitness facilities choose to have a policy against allowing teenagers and most of those who do allow teens to train with their equipment will require that they be accompanied by an adult.
The bottom line is that when it comes to heavy lifting, safety should always be the first priority. Unfortunately, many teenagers have the belief that they are invincible. It is simply a part of being a teenager. All too often, they need to be protected, even from themselves. Therefore, in order to keep our teenagers safe, it is best for them not to be lifting heavy weights. That's not to say that they should not be exercising and participating in sports. Even weight lifting is appropriate for our teenagers if they are well guided and supervised. I highly recommend the services of a qualified and certified personal trainer in order to guide your teenager on their journey towards a healthier and stronger body.