The Difference Between Age and Maturation in Youth Weightlifters

The difference between maturity and age is not always clear. When it comes to youth, there are many opinions. Some say that youth is still developing physically, mentally or emotionally. Others believe that it’s time to stop being so young! These two viewpoints have been discussed for years in various sports media outlets such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN and USA Today among others.

However, no one really knows what exactly makes them different? What does make them mature? Is it their physical development? Their mental development? Or maybe they just don’t want to see someone so young doing something dangerous like weight lifting?

Let’s take a look at some facts about these two terms:

Mature vs. Young: A Definition

“Mature” means “having the ability to perform tasks and responsibilities; having the capacity for learning.” (Merriam-Webster) “Younger than one year old” refers to children under 12 months old.

A definition from Merriam-Webster: “a person of mature age; a person of full age or experience; especially : one who is capable of making sound decisions and acting responsibly.”

So when do we use each term?

Well, according to Merriam-Webster, the first meaning is used for anyone over the age of 18. The second meaning is used for children under 12 months old.

Here are some example sentences from Merriam-Webster:

A baby is not yet mature enough to be changed.

Most babies are not physically mature until they reach puberty.

These were selected to point out the difference between the two terms. The first sentence uses “mature” as a synonym for “old enough.” In this case, “mature” would be replaced with another word, such as “wise” or “responsible.” The second sentence uses “mature” to refer to a physical or mental state.

The Difference Between Age and Maturation in Youth Weightlifters - GYM FIT WORKOUT

Age vs Maturity in Weightlifting

So, how does this fit in with weightlifting? To answer this question, we need to first ask: “What is the difference between age and maturity?”

It’s obvious that age refers to the number of years a person has been alive. Maturity, on the other hand, is a person’s ability to behave in a responsible and sensible manner. Now that we’ve got some definitions out of the way, let’s talk about weightlifting and youth.

If you’ve seen any video of weightlifting you probably know what it looks like. It features a bunch of people standing in a circle tossing a metal ball back and forth to each other. You might also notice that some of the people in the circle are teenagers.

The question is: Should these teenagers even be doing this?

People who are skeptical about weightlifting say “no.” They believe that it is irresponsible to let teenagers weightlift because they are still immature. People who support youth weightlifting say that teenagers are just as mature as people in their twenties.

If you’ve ever lifted weights before, then you already know the benefits. A teenager who lifts weights can become stronger and faster than someone of a similar age who doesn’t lift. Even so, some people still believe that teenagers under the age of 18 shouldn’t be allowed to weightlift.

Why?”

you may ask. “

Isn’t being stronger and faster a good thing?”

Well, yes, but there are some people who believe that teenagers don’t have the wisdom to lift weights. Basically, weightlifting is too dangerous for teenagers.

The reason why?

Teens are still growing and developing mentally and physically. Their minds aren’t as mature as an adult’s even if they’re 18.

“Okay,” you may say, “but my little brother lifts weights and he seems fine.” There’s a difference between your little brother and other teenagers. Most fifteen-year-olds haven’t hit their full adult height and weight. They also have an increased risk for injury, especially in their bones and muscles.

Lifting heavy weights can permanently damage these developing body parts.

There are also the long-term risks of weightlifting, such as scarring of the heart, which can kill you in ten to forty years. Teens would also be more likely to suffer from psychological issues, such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a condition in which someone is excessively worried about the way they look.

So should teenagers really be weightlifting at all?

Yes, but not too much and not too heavy. As said, teens are still developing mentally and physically. If you’re a teenager, it’s probably best to talk with your parents and/or a doctor before starting a weightlifting program. As for the psychological risks in lifting weights, don’t worry too much about it because as long as you don’t have any history of psychological issues (such as BDD) you won’t suddenly develop them from lifting weights.

The next time someone tells you that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to weightlift, you’ll be able to tell them why. Hopefully, they’ll listen. The last thing we need are more people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder!

Thanks for reading!

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Sources & references used in this article:

Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review by RM Malina – Clinical journal of sport medicine, 2006 – journals.lww.com

Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association by AD Faigenbaum, WJ Kraemer… – The Journal of …, 2009 – journals.lww.com

Integrating models of long-term athletic development to maximize the physical development of youth by AW Pichardo, JL Oliver, CB Harrison… – … of Sports Science & …, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com

Chronological age vs. biological maturation: implications for exercise programming in youth by RS Lloyd, JL Oliver, AD Faigenbaum… – The Journal of …, 2014 – journals.lww.com

Peak Age and performance progression in world-class weightlifting and powerlifting athletes by PA Solberg, WG Hopkins… – … journal of sports …, 2019 – journals.humankinetics.com

Effects of combined resistance training and weightlifting on motor skill performance of adolescent male athletes by AW Pichardo, JL Oliver, CB Harrison… – The Journal of …, 2019 – journals.lww.com