The deadlift is an excellent workout when performed correctly. However, like any other exercise, there are potential injury risks to deadlifting, and some say it may even stunt growth and muscle gain.
This article will investigate whether that statement is accurate and, if yes, what steps you can take to avoid it. But before our fitness team answers your question, let’s first know –
What Is a Deadlift?
A deadlift is a weightlifting compound workout that targets your upper and lower body muscles. When we say “compound workout,” we mean a move that encompasses larger muscle groups and across multiple joints.
Other examples of compound exercises are squat, leg extension, glute kickback, biceps curl, and row. These moves are great for making your workouts more efficient and building strength because they work most muscle groups in the least amount of time.
The deadlift exercise involves picking up a weight from the ground. You do this by bending at your hips and waist and standing back up. In a standard deadlift, your torso angle at the start of the pull will be roughly 30 to 45 degrees above horizontal.
A large body of study supports the use of deadlifts for various performance and fitness goals – both for the general population and among athletes.
So, Do Deadlifts Stunt Growth?
No, deadlifts won’t stunt growth. If anything, the exercise can activate your hip extensors – commonly targetted muscles in various fitness programs because of their aesthetic appeal and practical use when adequately trained.
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, multi-joint movements in children’s resistance training programs can increase one’s testosterone and HGC levels. Growth hormone (GH) is needed to stimulate the growth of tissues and bones in the body.
Still, you want to make sure that you have perfect form to prevent injury at a young age. If you deadlift wrong, it may cause severe spinal damage and stunt growth, and other problems.
Lifting Weights Stunts Growth? (Here’s What Science Says)
A study in the peer-reviewed journal Osteoporosis International suggested that spinal cord injury may result in altered signaling between growing bone and cartilage and cartilage differentiation.
Aside from the poor form, other facts that may result in stunted growth when lifting weights are lack of supervision and the consequences of being too heavy.
Here’s the good news: weight training is one of the safest things even young athletes can do. One has a greater chance of stunting growth by breaking browns near the growth plates by gymnastics or playing football or soccer than weight training.
Growth plates are the areas of tissue near the ends of long bones in kids and teens and determine the future shape and length of the mature bone.
When a person reaches physical maturity, these plates turn into hardened bone, so they are more susceptible to damage during development. However, this doesn’t mean that teenagers or adolescents should avoid lifting weights.
The USA Weightlifting even states that lifting weights only has a 0.0035% injury occurrence rate. It all comes down to knowledge (understanding mobility and movement patterns) and applying such knowledge.
[Featured Resource: Best Weightlifting Belt]
How to Do a Deadlift Safely: Step-By-Step
Teaching people how to do a deadlift safely and get comfortable with barbell training is one of our favorite things to do.
We often teach the fitness community this weightlifting compound exercise using one sentence “Bend your knees while maintaining a flat back and pick up a barbell off the ground.”
Of course, such a line doesn’t do the awesomeness of this workout justice. So, here’s the step-by-step guide for you.
1. Perform this workout in a proper form by bending your knees about 30 degrees. Under a barbell, your feet should be slightly outward.
2. Bend over and grip the loaded barbell with your hands at shoulder width.
3. With a neutral spine, brace your stomach and flex your butt.
4. Pick up the bar off the ground.
5. Your knees should remain slightly bent to utilize your gluteus maximus and not your lower back.
6. Once the barbell passes your knees, thrust your hips forward until you stand up. Your head should still align with your spine.
7. Reverse the movement until the barbell returns to its starting place on the ground.
Suppose you are a parent and have any concerns about your child participating in a weightlifting program. In that case, we encourage you to talk with your doctor or pediatrician first before they start lifting weights.
Scientific evidence shows that the minimum age for strength training for kids is seven years old and is recommended for kids with good posture, reasonable control of balance, and athletic.
Moreover, a deadlift requires a mastery of lunges, good mornings (basic hip-hinge movement), and squats before you proceed to deadlifts.
Now that we answered the question “Does deadlifting stunt growth?” let’s find out the importance of grip strength in deadlifting.
[Featured Resource: Best Fitness Tracker for Weight Lifting]
4 Tips to Stay Safe While Learning to Deadlift
- Check with your doctor before starting a heavy lifting program, especially if you have vascular disease or high blood pressure.
- Meet with a fitness trainer if you have never lifted to get started. Ask them what weight you can begin to stay safe.
- Use proper form every time you lift, which is more important if the weight you’re planning to raise is heavy.
- Pay close attention to your body (adjust lifting whenever necessary) to avoid injury.
Take It Slow
Conquering heavyweights in deadlift do not happen overnight. It is essential to take it slow, starting with lighter weights and building up gradually. Give more attention to the execution of your movement and not the number on the dumbbell or weight plates.
Importance of grip strength in the deadlift
Grip strength is significant in the deadlift. If you can’t hold onto the barbell, you won’t be able to lift it.
The two main grips used in deadlift are double overhand grip and mixed grip. The first grip (double overhand grip) is the safest, wherein both your palms are facing your body. If you are a beginner in deadlifting, we recommend using this type of grip.
On the other hand, the hand grabs the barbell with an overhand grip in a mixed grip, and another hand holds it with an underhand grip. Some people lift weights using a mixed grip because they can physically lift more. We recommend this grip for your heaviest lifts.
However, the mixed grips have many disadvantages:
- It can aggravate problems in your biceps on the side wherein your palm is facing outwards.
- It places uneven stress on your shoulders.
- Your lift tends to be uneven because you grip the bar with rough hands.
[Featured Resource: Best Grip Strengthener]
The Bottom Line
As long as the deadlift is done safely and with supervision, you can guarantee that this exercise will not stop height growth.
A deadlift should be an essential part of any strengthening program, whether it is for general strength training, sports performance, or elite powerlifting.
All it takes is one lift to get started.
If you like this article, make sure to check out our other articles at ExpertFitness.org
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.