Experts worried about weight training trend among boys

Summary

Health clubs are seeing more and more teenage boys taking part in heavy weight training regimes, and health professionals say their muscles and joints could be at risk

Too much too soon

Increasingly more teenage boys are taking part in excessive weight training in fitness clubs and following strict eating patterns to develop to build more muscles, Het Laatste Nieuws has reported. Experts are concerned about the risks of the trend.

The newspaper spoke to owners of health clubs about the marked increase – mostly among 15- and 16-year-olds – and regularly heard that the numbers have been growing every month for the last two years. Francis Ottevaere of the JIMS chain cites the increase on an ever-growing focus on beauty and health.

Experts point out that young people’s bodies are only fully grown at about the age of 20, so extreme fitness and weight training before then can have negative effects on muscles and joints. “The muscles are often too heavily burdened, with injuries as a result,” said Flemish sports doctor Hans Cooman. He also noted that young people often take performance enhancing drugs to speed up their progress.

Professor Koen Peers of the University of Leuven’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Centre said that minors should only do power training under the guidance of a trainer and with light weights. “Doing heavy leg exercises, for instance, can damage the knees if a person is too young,” he said.

Peers referred to a young patient who ended up in his hospital's emergency department because his muscles were at risk of atrophying due to overtraining. “When sports becomes an addiction, you get these kind of excesses,” he said.