Does Deadlifting Stunt Growth? Only When This Happens (How to Avoid It)

Workout Plans | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 22 June 2024

An athletic person in a red weightlifting suit struggles to lift a barbell with two red plates, his facial expression suggesting he wonders if deadlifting stunts growth, all set against a dark studio background.

Some concerned parents and youngsters may wonder if deadlifting stunts growth due to worries about potential injuries or not reaching their full height.15 While these fears are understandable, they are based off of rumors and myths that are only applicable when injuries happen.

To elaborate, there’s zero studies that show a correlation between deadlifting and height so the only way it’s possible, is by a sever injury although it can be learned how to avoid injuries in the deadlift with just a few simple tips.

The Misconception Behind Deadlifting Stunting Growth

Deadlifting does not stunt growth, and several studies have debunked this widespread myth.

Back in 2006, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine recorded a trial involving weight training programs and their effects on adolescents. The participants engaged in exercises that included using weights and isotonic machines, which are exercise equipment that lets users strengthen muscles in a sitting position. This went on for a few months at two-to-three-day intervals.

After the experiment, the researchers noticed that the participants got stronger, and the exercises didn’t affect their weights or heights. In addition, injury reports were low.

Therefore, the misconception comes from the fact that some believe deadlifts may cause spinal compression and although some lifts may compress the spine temporarily, this is not true for deadlifts and it’s not permanent unless a sever injury occurs. Others assume that they’re caused by hormones that make growth plates close sooner but again, there is no evidence of this.

The Truth About Deadlifting and Growth: Does It Stunt Growth?

Deadlifting does not harm the growth of adolescents, and it does not affect adults’ growth either. After all, girls reach their full adult height at 14 or 15 and boys at 18 to 20.1,2 Plus, the growth plates in adults are closed since they’re way past puberty at this point.

That said, those who engage in deadlifting and other forms of exercise without practicing proper technique could end up with herniated discs though the chance of that is minimal.

At What Age is it Safe to Begin Lifting Weights? Age 13,14,15?

When considering what age is is appropriate for weight lifting, factors such as their spatial awareness, ability to follow instructions, and motivation are better indicators than age to determine when it’s safe.

A guy in blue shirts and his shirt off preparing to deadlift a barbell that he's holding use a double over hand grip or hook grip.

Source: LeoPatrizi via Canva.com14

Children ages 13, 14, and 15 are usually old enough to understand danger, not roam off, and follow instructions to execute proper technique. Several medical professionals even agree that it’s okay for children to begin around 7 or 8 since kids at these ages are likely to maintain balance in addition to understand directions.3

Hormonal Benefits of Squatting & Deadlifting (Human Growth Hormone & Testosterone)

People gain several hormonal benefits when taking part in squatting and deadlifting. For one, they stimulate someone’s growth hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland, an organ that plays a huge role in puberty.

Another hormone, testosterone, assists individuals in reaching their weight-lifting goals. It’s anabolic, which means it helps build and grow molecules, and in this case, testosterone aids deadlifters in growing extra muscle.

Growth hormones aid in fat atrophy, tissue healing, and other remedial methods. When an individual takes up squatting, deadlifting, and/or other high-energy activities, they can greatly trigger the production of growth hormones, especially if they maintain rest periods of 90 seconds or less.

Also, the hormone cortisol gives the human body an energy boost by feeding off muscle tissue. However, too much of it can be produced if a deadlifter takes long breaks between exercises or exerts themselves, so they should keep cortisol levels balanced by limiting their breaks.4

A study conducted by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research further proves the benefits of human growth hormones, testosterone, and cortisol on squatting and deadlifting. The trial involved 10 men who took part in squat and leg press exercises (six sets of 10) with two-minute rest periods in between and an 80 percent load of one-repetition maximum.

The researchers collected their blood samples to examine the weightlifters’ hormone levels before and after the exercises. They found out that the increase of testosterone, cortisol and human growth hormones was higher for the squats than for the leg press exercises.5

Additional Benefits of Lifting as an Adolescent

Contrary to the common concern, deadlifting does not stunt growth. In fact, as previously discussed, deadlifting offers numerous benefits, especially for adolescents. As a matter of fact, deadlifting can bring all sorts of benefits to people, particularly adolescents. Below is a list of the ways deadlifting helps teenagers:

  • Deadlifting gives teens a hormonal surge: Because many teens are either going through puberty or have finished puberty, they gain the advantage of maximum testosterone production. This gives them a boost in muscle mass and strength.6
  • Deadlifting helps strengthen their bones: Building bone strength is essential for teens since they’re still growing. According to a study, strengthening and maintaining bone density through exercise, especially one like deadlifting, can guard them against ailments like osteoporosis upon becoming adults.7
  • Deadlifting keeps adolescents in shape: Many teens are involved in sports like football, karate, and baseball. But, kids who don’t take part in athletics need some way to keep fit.

If a teen is unsure of which sport to sign up for, introducing them to deadlifting may be a good way to get them started. Engaging in weight training (and other types of exercises for that matter) fights obesity by ameliorating lean body mass and burning calories.

If you’re wondering how many calories does deadlifting burn, it depends on several factors such as the type of deadlift, the weight used and the level of intensity of the lift.

  • Deadlifting protects teens from bad influences: Adolescents’ minds are susceptible to negative influences like drugs, gangs, and dangerous stunts performed on social media. By taking up an activity like deadlifting, they have something positive to do with their time while shedding some pounds.
  • Deadlifting reduces stress: Teens have a lot to deal with whether it’s homework, peer pressure, clashes with family members, or working their first jobs. Partaking in something like deadlifting can give them a temporary escape from their day-to-day problems.

Additionally, research shows that lifting weights and other forms of exercise release endorphins, hormones that endow someone with calm, positive feelings. Moreover, it so happens that deadlifting releases more endorphins than cardio-related exercises since it requires more muscle.8

  • Deadlifting builds self-esteem: Some teens have a good sense of self-esteem, but others, unfortunately, do not. This is due to many reasons including being bullied, having no friends (or having so-called friends), struggling with one or more school subjects, or other issues. Parents or other trusted adults can lend a hand by motivating them to take up deadlifting.

If a teen decides to sign up for deadlifting courses, they can feel better about themselves since they may discover a talent they never knew they had. They may even break a world record and end up in the news with a headline akin to “Unofficial World Record Elite Powerlifter Vlad Alkhazov Squats 1175 in Wraps.”

Healthy self-esteem is essential to mental health because it can prevent them from turning to self-harming behaviors to cope.

  • Deadlifting can open doors to future opportunities: Most teens think about attending college during their upperclassman years. Many colleges require a list of extracurricular activities along with their applications. Deadlifting has the potential to influence a teen to join a powerlifting team, perform better in football, and even potentially land them a scholarship towards their dream school or an athletics career.

The Impact of Deadlifting on Growth and Height

This guide has clarified whether deadlifting stunts growth, but some people still wonder if deadlifting can actually make a person grow taller. A teen shot in stature may be self-conscious about their height and probably sees deadlifting as a solution to growing taller.

As of yet, there have not been any studies proving that deadlifting or weight lifting of any sort can make someone grow taller. Nevertheless, research has shown that height is predicated on the following six components:

  • Hormones: The production of hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and growth hormones contribute to muscle generation and bone growth, particularly when someone is going through puberty.
  • Genes: Because one’s height is based on a person’s DNA, there’s no point in attempting to grow taller by deadlifting.
  • Sleep: The human body creates hormones to refresh it after a hard day of work or school. This is why teens need to get the right amount of sleep since hormone growth depends on it, and they need approximately eight to 10 hours of it each night.
  • Nutrition: Everyone, especially children and teens, need to eat well. To reach their optimal height, they need to consume balanced meals consisting of the right amount of macronutrients and micronutrients.

In other words, kids’ diets should contain foods like dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Bone Density: Research has shown that deadlifting and other kinds of weight training can promote bone density more than aerobics. By commencing this exercise at a young age, teens can protect themselves from bone loss and muscle weakness later in life.
  • Posture: Deadlifting can aid an individual in appearing taller. With the right training and lifts, teens can expand their muscle and joint flexibility.9,10

Those who envy tall people shouldn’t because “Bigger isn’t always better.” As a matter of fact, deadlifting is harder on them since they need to bend more at their hips. And because tall people possess a larger range of motion, they’re at a bigger risk for injuries.11

All in all, what counts in deadlifting is determination and practice, not height.

How to Deadlift Properly to Avoid Injury & Avoid Stunting Growth

The most important aspect of deadlifting is possessing the proper form to avoid injuries and stunted growth. Here are step-by-step guidelines parents or coaches can give to teen beginners:

  1. First, approach the barbell with the distance between the feet matching the width of the shoulders. (This technique works best when wearing special deadlift shoes.)
  2. Next, bend down at the hip and grab the barbell.
  3. Ensure knees are inside elbows.
  4. Grip the barbell very tightly while pulling shoulder blades together.
  5. While inhaling deeply, lower the hips and flex the knees. (In this position, the barbell should be touching the shins.)
  6. Concentrate on a focal point in the room or an object while keeping your head up.
  7. Keep the back arched and the chest up.
  8. Pull the barbell upwards while pushing weight on the heels.
  9. Then, pull the barbell backward after it passes the knees.
  10. Maintain proper shoulder blade position while driving the hips to the barbell.
  11. Bend at the hips and pull the barbell backward to lower it to the floor.12

More Helpful Tips

Parents should encourage teens to take their time when deadlifting since rushing can lead to life-long injuries.

They can take baby steps by lifting in sets of three. Also, they need to find a happy medium in the weight of the barbell. If it’s too light, add more plates; remove some of them if it’s too heavy. Teens need to pay attention to their upper back and hamstrings since those muscles are the most affected during these exercises.13

Moreover, parents can advise their teens to deadlift with a belt to protect their spine and lift below their one-repetition maximum.

Coaches, parents, and other trusted adults can implement an open-door policy for teens who feel lost or unsure about deadlifting techniques. This makes it easier for young weightlifters to go to them for questions about rules or inform them about any signs of pain.

How to Get Teens Started in Deadlifting

Now that parents know that deadlifting is safe for teenagers, they may like to learn how to sign them up for courses. They can first ask their local high school if they offer powerlifting lessons. If the school in question doesn’t offer one, families and faculty can attempt to start a deadlifting club.

Some schools won’t accept a club if there’s not a large demand for it. Fortunately, many gyms provide weight training lessons for youth. If teens feel ready to compete, they should consider which powerlifting weight classes they fall under beforehand so the competition wouldn’t be too difficult or too easy for them.
It’s essential for teens and parents to study the benefits and risks of deadlifting. This exercise brings an enjoyable and healthy challenge for young people since it builds confidence while contributing to their physical development. As long as teens practice proper technique, parents can stop worrying about whether deadlifting stunts growth.


References

1Healthline. (2022). Height In Girls: When Do They Stop Growing, What’s the Median Height, and More. Health. 24 July 2022. Web. <https://www.healthline.com/health/when-do-girls-stop-growing>

2Healthline. (2022). Do Guys Keep Growing Until Age 25? Health. 24 July 2022. Web <https://www.healthline.com/health/do-guys-keep-growing-until-age-25>

3MedicineNet. (2022). What Age Is Okay to Start Lifting Weights? Article. 24 July 2022. Web. <https://www.medicinenet.com/what_age_is_okay_to_start_lifting_weights/article.htm>

4Livestrong. (n.d.). Hormonal Effects of Heavy Deadlifting. Hormones. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://www.livestrong.com/article/457147-hormonal-effects-of-heavy-deadlifting/>

5The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (2014). The Acute Hormonal Response to Free Weight and Machine Weight Resistance Exercise. NCSA-JSCR. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2014/04000/The_Acute_Hormonal_Response_to_Free_Weight_and.22.aspx>

6Muscle and Fitness. (n.d.). The Teenage Weightlifting Guide. Workout Tips. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-tips/teenage-weightlifting-guide/>

7VeryWell Family. (2020). High Intensity Exercise in Teens Promotes Lasting Bone Strength, Study Finds. Family and Parenting News. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://www.verywellfamily.com/high-intensity-exercise-in-teens-promotes-bone-strength-5076895>

8Daring to Live Fully. (n.d.). 8 Ways Lifting Weights Will Transform Your Life. Benefits of Lifting Weights. 25 July 2022. Web <https://daringtolivefully.com/benefits-of-lifting-weights>

9FitBod. (n.d.). Does Lifting Weights Make You Taller? (6 Factors to Consider). Blog. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://fitbod.me/blog/does-lifting-weights-make-you-taller/>

10Healthline. (n.d.). How to Increase Your Height: Is There Anything I Can Do? Health. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-height>

11Iron Man. (2021). Your Height Is Your Greatest Strength: Learn How Height Affects Your Deadlifts. Advice. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://www.ironmanmagazine.com/your-height-is-your-greatest-strength-learn-how-height-affects-your-deadlifts/>

12TestoFuel. (2016). How Deadlifts Benefit Testosterone Release. Workout Guides. 25 July 2022. Web <https://www.testofuel.com/tf/deadlifts-benefit-testosterone-release/>

13Columbia Association. (2021). How to Deadlift With Proper Form. Blog. 25 July 2022. Web. <https://www.columbiaassociation.org/blog/how-to-deadlift-with-proper-form/>

14LeoPatrizi. “Fitness deadlift.” Canva. Accessed 7 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEEtPba75U-fitness-deadlift/>

15vm. “Deadlift.” Canva. Accessed 11 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEFBRCpbIM-deadlift/>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.