Help them train for success (and squeeze in a workout or two for you) with these child-friendly, strength-building exercises. You’ll wonder why you ever exercised alone…
Get things moving
Do a fun warm-up with a minute of jumping jacks, one minute of high knees and one minute of booty kicks. Circle arms for 30 seconds in each direction, and roll the neck five times from left to right, and right to left.
Have a plank-off
FOR THEM: Core workouts are great for kids. While you’ll be planking normally, start them off by having them lay on their belly, with their arms stretched out in front and legs behind. Get them to lift their arms and legs from the ground at the same time and hold that position for 10-20 seconds.Begin with just a few repetitions and increase over time. You can turn this into a fun game to see who can hold their pose the longest. As they build core strength, they can progress slowly towards a “grown-up plank” by resting their knees on the ground and planking from there.
Beat them at bear crawls
This is one exercise which they’ll probably be way better at than you! Let’s face it, they remember the days of crawling much more clearly…
FOR THEM: Have them crouch down with hands in front, shoulder-width apart, and feet behind them with hips up in the air. Now it’s time to crawl! Move forward starting with the right hand and left foot following, then the left hand and right foot. Crawl to the end of the hallway then turn around and bear crawl back. Do this in timed relays of 1 minute. Set up a course around the garden to see who is the fastest bear!
Get lean with lungesFOR THEM: Lunges are great for helping kids work on their balance and strengthen legs. Have them step forward with one leg, and lower hips until both knees are bent at around 90 degrees, making sure their knee doesn’t go past their toes. Keep their weight in the heels, and push back to their starting position. Do these leg exercises for three sets of 20 reps.
Go head-to-head with sit-ups
FOR THEM: While you’ll get your ab workout doing normal sit-ups, curl-ups help protect children’s spines when their muscles are weaker; they’re sit-ups, but not all the way – just have them curl their chest toward their knees. You can also get them to anchor your feet and count your reps for you if they run out of steam before your set is over.
Start a squat challenge
FOR THEM: The squat is a great bodyweight exercise for kids, just make sure they don’t extend past their toes as they dip their knees. Have them stand with their feet hip-width apart and slowly sink their bum down, sticking it out as if they are sitting in a chair, bending at the knees and hips. Make sure their back is straight, and they sink as low as possible, then slowly rise back to standing. Repeat 20 times for three sets. And, if you really want to wear them out before bedtime, turn squats into a squat jump as they rise back up – it’s a killer, so a peaceful night is guaranteed!
Do these exercises together a couple of times a week as a regular routine, and try to find smart ways to snatch extra workouts as well – squeeze in three-minute bursts of exercise for fun in ad breaks, where you tell each other “drop and give me 20!” (your own PTs on hand, for free). And remember regular playtime can be the best exercise – kick about a football, play tag, and jog along as they ride their bike. You’re a kid at heart still, see?
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