The Best Strength Training Programs for Kids (and Maybe For You)

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photo: Nomad_Soul (Shutterstock)

My kids have followed me into my garage gym for years. (Even before we have a proper home gym, they steal the stray dumbbells or yoga balls I thought I bought for myself.) I would encourage their interest, but I wonder :HHow can I encourage them to get into the habit of exercising? It took a while, but I think I’ve figured it out.

My three children now range in age from 6 to 12 years old. The oldest are definitely ready for structured strength training :He wants to get stronger for the sport he does, and he has enough organisational skills for his daily activities including visiting the garage gym. However, when I try to guide him through a workout, he gets bored or frustrated easily. (Imagine the “Are we there yet?” whining while traveling by car, but here’s “How many sets are left?”) I’d rather let him enjoy himself and make it a habit than get something done I decide the best train.

Young people are still just for fun, which is great, but then they hang out at the gym I’m try to lift and ask me to give them a workout, also. So I’ve been looking for a weightlifting routine that’s simple enough to suggest on the fly, but fun and entertaining enough to avoid complaining when I try to work out on my own. I think I found it.

I wrote this on my gym whiteboard, or something like that:

simple power

2 Sets of 5: Goblet Squats

2 sets of 5: Kettlebell deadlift

2 sets of 5: Bench Press

2 sets of 5: Kroc row

2 carry, any heavy item of your choice

The name and set/rep scheme are derived from a Book I’ve heard of it, but admittedly haven’t read it. (There is a version of the Easy Strength program here, if you want to know where it came from and how to modify it for more serious athletes. ) I want to be clear that any changes I made to the program have not been approved by the author; and, I don’t know what they are, because I just grabbed the central idea and ran with them.

The basic structure I stole is this:

  • Do ten repetitions of each exercise, here divided into two groups of five repetitions.
  • There are always five exercises that fit into the following categories: squat, hinge, push, pull and carry.
  • You can do this every day.
  • Add weight when it feels too easy.

It was a huge success. The eldest child has broken the habit a few times, but always starts over without any stimulation. Sometimes his younger brother would follow along and they would work out together. Even my youngest child can complete the five exercises on the board, although some of them require my help.

why my kids love this

First, they are sold under the name. If you’re a kid who’s prone to tantrums or discouragement in gym class, the idea that exercise can be “easy” is appealing, even revolutionary.according to a Paper The Easy Strength Program is described and when you first do an exercise it should easily feel like a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Or to put it another way: you do 5 reps of each exercise you can do nine to ten weights if you want. (If you’re feeling lively, you can add weight, but it should never feel hard.)

Second, we chose exercises they liked. I would love to see my kids do more push-ups, but older kids prefer the bench press (they know how to do it properly, we have safety gear on the rack). They hate almost every type of squat except the goblet squat, so: good. A goblet is better than nothing.

Third, which I think is the key, the exercises we choose Requires zero setup time. We have small, medium and large kettlebells. Depending on the child, they use a medium or large size for deadlifts and a small or medium size for squats. At first I thought they could start tethering small plates to the kettlebell to add weight, but they would prefer to keep using the same bell until it felt too easy, then they would try the next bigger size. Hey – this works.

Why this is a very solid training program

At first, it seemed almost comical.only two sets every workout? The first time my oldest did it, he was in and out of the gym in less than 15 minutes. Now that he knows where to find everything and how to do the minimal setup, he can get it done in under 10 days.

But here’s the thing :TThe sweet spot for building muscle and strength is thought to be 10 to 20 sets per muscle per week, with beginners doing a little less. If you do two sets a day, that’s 14 sets a week. If you only train for five days and rest on the weekend, that’s still 10 sets. If you’re a kid who goes to the gym a few times a week and forgets about it the rest of the time, that’s still six sets a week, which is well over zero.

Don’t they need a day off? I hear you mumbling on the screen. unnecessary. Remember, if you’re doing a lot of work that you’re comfortable with (or just starting out with a small amount), you can do it almost every day. For example, you can take a daily walk. Manual workers come to work every day.

Or think about it another way: No one turns a blind eye to a routine of three or four sets per exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It’s the same thing, just spread out more days. It’s the same amount of work. (not have Not a natural law that you need to take a day off between strength workouts; Rest days are for convenience only. )

How to start doing it with your child (or yourself)

If you want to set up something similar for yourself or your own family, here are some tips to get started.

The most important thing is that the child (or you) should know how to perform the exercises that are part of the program.If a child had to learn how to squat and How to deadlift and Everything else, it’s less likely to get through without crying on the first day. However, if you’ve coached them through some squats or reminded them to keep their backs flat when they’re curious about lifting kettlebells, they’re probably ready to incorporate these exercises into their routine. If you’re not sure where to start, ask them what they did in gym class.

Once they know the exercises and they can do them safely, you can let them do the daily exercise on their own as age allows. This is where the zero-setup rule comes in :MMake sure they can walk in and start without asking you to load the bar. Kettlebells and fixed (non-adjustable) dumbbells are great for this, but don’t forget that bodyweight exercises also require little setup.

For example, you can have the kids do push-ups with their hands on the bench.As they get stronger, they can put them on the floor, then graduate, put them foot on the bench. Stepping is a great option when the squat becomes too easy. Inversion rowing is a great “pull” exercise, and if you have a bar, they can work their way through pull-ups.take a look Our list of bodyweight exercises for strength buildingand pick something useful for your little (or not-so-tiny).

If you are doing this for yourself, Consider the version called “Easier Strength” which explains here. You will have the opportunity to practice heavy singles every other week, sometimes 10 sets. If your child may value familiarity in the practice, you can switch it every two weeks, or anytime. For example, in a session dedicated to squats, you can cycle through squats, lunges, strides, and no-weight single-leg squats to a box (or whatever variation appeals to you).

Is this the best way to build strength and muscle? I mean, I wouldn’t train for a powerlifting competition that way.But any routine you would do actually do Better than doing nothing.So, if you don’t like challenging yourself with a tough training program, let stay healthy It’s easy for yourself by setting up a routine that’s fast enough to fit into your day and that you design to be enjoyable. After all, why do kids want to have fun?


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