Strength training games for young children

March 17, 2011 - 0:0

Remember those physical fitness testing days in elementary school? I tried to avoid them with fictional stomachaches and sore throats. My muscular strength (the greatest amount of force a muscle can exert in a single effort) was sorely lacking.

My muscular endurance (the ability of a muscle to perform repeated movements for an extended period of time) was barely measurable. This led to a serious lack of confidence during P.E. testing days.
How can you help your child avoid a similar experience? Young children can best increase their muscular strength and endurance by playing—like hanging from monkey bars, climbing jungle gyms, and swimming in pools.
But when you’re competing against video games, computers, and other sedentary devices, it can't hurt to add a few more clever muscle-building methods to the mix. The following games require only two people—one of them could be you!
Bean bag hockey
Muscles targeted: Deltoids (primary) and abs (supporting) Prop: Bean bags (you can make your own by filling a tube sock with dried beans.) Game: Partner 1 holds the top part of a push-up position (arms are extended and knees are off the floor.) From a few yards away, partner 2 slides a bean bag across the floor. If the bean bag goes through the arms of partner 1, it counts as a point. Next the partners switch roles. Partners keep track of their points, trying to get the highest score. But if your desire is to minimize competition between the partners, you can pose the following challenge: How many goals can you two score as a team during a two-minute song? Can you score more than 25?
Crab kickball
Muscles targeted: Triceps, deltoids Prop: Lightweight bouncy ball (often found in a cage in drugstores during the summer.)
Game: Partner 1 assumes a crab walk position. (Rear is lifted off the floor.) Partner 2 tosses the ball into the air. Partner 1 tries to kick the ball without losing the crab walk position. Switch roles. Scoring can follow the same pattern as Bean Bag Hockey.
Crunch 'N' score Muscles targeted: Abs
Props: 10 lightweight balls and/or stuffed animals and 1 hula hoop Game: Partner 1 lies down in a sit-up position while holding a ball or stuffed animal toy. (Knees are bent.) Partner 2 is standing at the feet of partner 1, holding the hoop overhead.
Place the toys near the sitting partner for easy access. Partner 1 tries to toss each ball through the hoop while performing a sit-up. Each player get 10 turns before switching roles. The Bean Bag Hockey scoring also applies here.
See Saw Squats Muscles targeted: Quads (quadriceps) and gluteus Prop: Music
Game: The partners face each other, with a few feet between them. They can even hold hands if they'd like. Legs are hip distance apart. An adult starts the music. The partners take turns performing a squat.
(Bend your knees like you're sitting in an invisible chair.) The goal is to not get caught in a squat when the music stops. There is no scoring procedure for this game. Squatting is just naturally funny to kids. (You may hear a few sound effects.)
The one thing all these games have in common is FUN! Young children, especially, need to associate physical activity with play. Can’t imagine your too-cool pre-teen playing any of these games? Check back here in the following weeks when we explore strength training exercises for older kids.