Common Youth Training Myth #2 – Kids lifting weights causes injury.

Now something we hear of a lot is a reluctancy for parents to let their child participate in resistance based training as they fear it will cause them injury, or stunt their growth.

(A myth we debunked previously here –  Common-youth-training-myth-1 )

One of our coaches recently sat through a conversation where people were saying just this as a reason as to why their children shouldn’t do any weight training to enhance their rugby. (More on reasons as to why this is ludicrous later)

So firstly lets look into what the scientific research says regarding youth weightlifting and injury incidence.

We are big fans of young people lifting weights


Study 1

Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review.

(Malina RM. 2006)

This study amongst many other things reviewed occurrence of injury within 22 youth training studies. 10 of which tracked and reported injury occurrence. Out of 10 groups of kids only 3 injuries were seen.

Estimated injury rates were 0.176, 0.053, and 0.055 per 100 participant-hours in the respective programs.

Study 2

Paediatric resistance training: benefits, concerns, and program design considerations.

(Faigenbaum AD, Myer GD. 2010)

“In addition to increasing muscular strength and power, regular participation in a paediatric resistance training program may have a favourable influence on body composition, bone health, and reduction of sports-related injuries.”

Study 3

Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association(Faigenbaum, Avery D; Kraemer, William J; Blimkie, Cameron J R; Jeffreys, Ian; Micheli, Lyle J; Nitka, Mike; Rowland, Thomas W. 2009)”

A properly designed and supervised resistance training program is safe for youth. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports-related injuries.”


Ensuring quality supervision is key!


So as you can see resistance training for kids is becoming increasingly popular and with quality supervision is safe and provides numerous benefits.

Rates of injury in various sports

So now we know lifting weights has a low chance of injury lets compare that to other sports?

Table of sports injury incidence and measures – taken form a variety of sources


Injury incidence



U12–14 years, 3.6 : 14–15 years, 17.28

Injuries per 1000 athlete exposures


11 years, 1.53 ; 12 years, 4.20 : 13 years, 4.64; 14 years, 6.43; 15 years, 8.89

Injuries per 100 player sessions

Bike riding

1.6 to 4.0

Per 1000 bicycle rides (to and from school); per 1000 bicycle users (other travel)



Injuries per 100 participant hours

Cross country


Injuries per 100 participant hours



Injuries per 100 participant hours



Injuries per 100 participant hours

As you can see weightlifting ranks as one of the lowest (therefore one of the safest) in terms of  injury risk.

Now we aren’t suggesting you sign your kids up to a gym and just let them go off and lift weights. ensuring all sessions have highly qualified coaches and are well supervised is key and in fact all of these studies on weightlifting are done in controlled coach led groups.

Strength training provides many benefits including reduced risk of injury from other sports


Rugby example.

Firstly we aren’t bashing rugby in anyway, its a great sport a lot of our young guys participate in and we love it!

What is interesting from the research is that incidence of injury increased with age in players.

Rugby is a contact sport and as individuals get bigger they also hit harder and run,ruck etc harder. So why wouldn’t a young rugby player be encouraged to participate in some strength training at a young age?

The research we went through at the start stated that weight training can actually reduce the risk of sport related injury. A Stronger more robust player is going to not only be more effective on the pitch but have a much lesser chance of injury.

Therefore we would confidently say any young rugby player of any specific age would benefit from lifting weights not only from a performance perspective but to keep them safe also!

To conclude

  • Weight training does not cause injuries.

  • Plenty of research has been done and shown weight training in young people to be safe.

  • It is highly recommended that young people train under supervision of highly qualified coaches

  • Injury incidence was lower in weightlifting than many other sports.

  • Interestingly, a lot of sports injuries are muscular, this is largely preventable through building stronger muscles.

  • Other sports offer much more risk, parents will let their children play contact rugby against people of varying sizes but are against them lifting weights.

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