how to include your kids in your workouts
School is out, summer travel is happening, people are visiting, and schedules are a bit different than normal. For many parents, the built-in day care called school is no longer an option and since we don’t want to grant kids any more screen time than we have to, one might want to consider incorporating your kids into your workout routine.
As you already know, kids have a ton of energy, especially for activities they find fun. All it takes is a little imagination and ingenuity, and before you know it, you’ll be sweating together doing things that feel less like exercise and more like play. Sometimes, as parents, it can be challenging to balance our schedules between work, family, friends, hobbies, and fitness. We are always looking for ways to be efficient with our time and set an example for our children. By incorporating your kids into your workouts, you’re not only filling time in their day that may otherwise be spent in front of a screen, but you’re teaching them the importance and value of fitness.
To start, there are a few important things to teach your kids when working out:
Nothing in life comes easy and things that are truly worth something take effort to accomplish.
Always do all the repetitions with full range of motion–no cutting corners.
Lead by example
By prioritizing your own fitness and overall well being, you’ll inspire your kids to do the same–to put down the iPad and get movement in.
As addicting as technology can be, put down the remote or controller and move around with your family.
While every kid is different, I think there are some very general guidelines that can be applied when it comes to kids of varying ages and either incorporating them into your workout or really working out with them.
Kids this age are often way more interested in just playing, wrestling, etc. so doing a specific workout may be challenging. However, they may still want to be a part of things, so look for ways to get them involved. For example, if you’re doing squats, can they be your weight for a set or a few reps? Doing planks…can they crawl underneath? Can you make your push ups weighted and they can piggyback?
At this age, they can start handling a little more structure. They may really enjoy “skills” training, as well as training goals and progressions. Maybe it’s putting together a benchmark workout that they can keep trying to improve on with simple exercises like planks, bench step-ups, crab walks, hip bridges, push ups if the strength is there, etc.
Things can really start to get fun at this age. They may be ready to step in and join you more fully in a workout if they want to. Consider giving them modifications to moves that you’re doing or working with them to really perfect a few.
Looking for real-life examples of ways to workout with your kids? From your home gym to a beach or lake vacation, bodyweight workout, skills training, to turning a workout into a game, I’ve got you covered.
Warm up with 5 minutes of easy cardio
In the warm up, this is the time to go slow and focus on teaching form and technique. Take the time and be present with what you are going to do. Think, “I go, you go” – get a workout set in, then play a game with your kids, then go back to the workout set. Breaking it up like this can make them still feel engaged and give you a little more time to train.
10 total lunges
5 push ups
8 goblet squats
8 floor bridge chest press
8 calories of choice on any machine
1:1 rest ratio with a partner or rest for however long the set took
During the rest focus on a balance skill or game (tip over on one foot, putt a golf ball, do a sports skill, or do active recovery while cheering on your partner).
And finally, don’t forget the cool down.
Beach or Lake Vacation
5 minute lunge warm up
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ladder of:
30 second plank between each rung (even imaginary)
It looks like this:
10 burpees + 10 sit ups + 10 air squats, + 30 second plank
9 burpees + 9 sit ups + 9 air squats, + 30 second plank
8 burpees + 8 sit ups + 8 air squats, + 30 second plank…..
All the down until 1 burpee + 1 sit ups + 1 air squats, + 30 second plank
10 minute walk for a cool down
I love doing ladders with the family. It is a great way to sneak in volume (55 total reps) while not over complicating a workout. The exercises get easier as you go down the ladder while the fixed plank gets harder because you get to that movement faster each round. I like to have a sheet of paper where the kids can mark off the reps or use rocks/marks in the sand where they can count the reps going down.
Teach kids and the family how to kick up to a handstand progression to help everyone get comfortable upside down!
Your starting arm is your strong arm (likely the arm you write with): helping them understand that when their arms bend there is a loss of strength.
Step and reach: step with whichever foot comes naturally. Usually, righty’s will step with their left, lefties with their right.
Hands down: work on hand placement. It looks like hands shoulder width apart, fingers spread, elbows locked.
Jump with your forward leg: practice feeling how much power and effort it takes to start getting yourself more and more inverted.
Spotter: find someone you trust to spot you, have them grab your leg. They’re assistance allows for you to work on a nice tight and straight body and keeping your alignment stacked.
This is beneficial for children’s proprioception (a fancy word for awareness of the position and movement of the body) and feeling comfortable in uncomfortable positions. Teaching body control and awareness is a foundational skill that will carry over to different sports as they get older.
Keep it simple. Play catch with your children using any sort of ball (you can choose something sport-specific to an activity they are used to playing). Mix things up by having them try to catch with one hand, two hands, their less dominant hand, throwing into a basket or hoop, aiming at different distances, etc. Make a competition to see how many catches they can get in a row. If they reach that number, you must do a penalty (5 pushups, squats, or burpees) and if they don’t reach that number, they will have to do the exercise. This teaches them hand-eye coordination and gets them excited about playing new sports.
Turning Workouts Into a Game
Some friendly competition is always motivating and good for the family. Use what you already have in your living room to make the most of your playtime/exercise time together by creating in-house drills.
Another game of friendly competition? Get a balloon and don’t let it touch the ground. See how many touches or taps you can get before it does. You’ll be moving around trying to “catch” the balloon, which will definitely work up a sweat. Every time you hit the balloon do 1 squat or push up. Next rounds do 2 reps, etc. until you can’t hit the number before the balloon touches the ground. The more you can turn fitness into games, the more your children will associate fitness with fun. Start them young and teach them healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Remember kids are like sponges–make sure they are soaking up the right habits and examples that they’ll incorporate into the rest of their lives.