Pumping Iron Jr.

Weight training won't stunt a child's growth, but the lifts have to be chosen with care. Here's how

I remember the first day I walked into a YMCA weight room, a scrawny kid just entering those joyous years of puberty. There was a tinny radio in one corner with a coat hanger for an antenna cranking out the Bee Gees. Bulked-up men were whistling the tune to Saturday Night Fever as they heaved and bench-pressed rusty iron. One of them glanced at my skinny legs and rumpled socks. "Be careful," he warned me. "At your age, this could stunt your growth."

This, at the time, was a widely held view. Even today many doctors counsel preteens and teenagers against...

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