Strength training exercises for children

Last week we introduced you to the principles and safe guidelines to strength training for children. In this article we provide you with 4 examples of some exercises that children can safely undertake as long as the guidelines are adhered to.

To re-emphasis some of the key points to remember:

  • The exercises should be age appropriate, i.e. not adapted adult exercises
  • The focus should be on correct form and technique of the exercise and not the amount of resistance
  • A warm up and stretching programme should precede the strength programme to ensure proper flexibility
  • The number of repetitions and frequency of exercises should be limited according to the training age and development phase of the child.
  • The child should have fun whilst doing the exercises

1. Bench Press

The bench press works the muscles of the chest, shoulders and upper arms. Lie on a bench, with your feet on the ground. Hold a barbell (no weights attached!) or dumbbells in your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, with your arms extended above your chest. Slowly lower the weight toward your chest. When the barbell touches your chest or the dumbbells are at chest height, extend your arms again to press the weight back up to the starting position.

2. Squats

SquatsSquats work a variety of muscles in the upper legs and buttocks. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Hold a weighted barbell on the top of your back, or hold dumbbells at your sides. Flex your knees and hips to lower your thighs until they are parallel to the ground, and then extend your knees and hips to return to the starting position. Keep your back straight and your head up throughout the movement.

3. Push-Ups

Push upsPush-ups use body weight for resistance to the muscles of the chest, shoulders and the back of the upper arm. Lie face-down on the ground. Bend your arms, and place your hands on the ground, outside and below your shoulders. Also, anchor your toes on the ground. Push against the ground to lift your trunk and legs. When your arms have fully extended, lower your body back to the starting position. Keep your head, back and legs aligned throughout the exercise.

4. Chin-Ups

Like push-ups, chin-ups also use body weight for resistance. Chin-ups work muscles on the back, shoulders and arms–especially those that flex the arms at the elbow (the brachialis and biceps brachii muscles). Hang from a bar, with your hands no wider than shoulder width and your palms facing your body (the bar should be high enough so your feet do not touch the ground). Pull your body upward until your chin is over the bar, and then slowly allow your arms to extend back to the starting position.


HAVE FUN improving your strength and preparing your body for exercise.

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