In a sport like gymnastics, be it rhythmic or artistic, it is important for gymnasts to have good upper body strength to be able to perform a routine perfectly. If our kids wanted to be gymnasts and they haven’t enrolled to any class yet, before we enroll them we can begin by teaching them simple workouts they can do at home for a couple of weeks so their bodies are conditioned before joining the sport.
The main muscles, or muscle groups, that we will focus on in the upper body area are the deltoids, pectorals, trapezius (also known as traps), latissimus dorsi (also known as lats), triceps, and biceps. The deltoids and pectorals are found in the chest, the trapezius and lats in the upper and middle back, and the triceps and biceps, of course, in the arms.
The exercises listed below targets these specific areas. Now if you are concerned if strength training is good for children or not, you can read our article here: Is Strength Training Safe for Children and the Benefits of Strength Training for Kids to be properly informed.
When a kid is just starting to train, it is better to start at the easiest so their bodies would not be shocked by the sudden activity. Here are a few non-equipment-based exercises we can teach our children. Importantly, it is necessary that they warm up first before doing any exercises, and we should monitor them so they would not exceed the capacity of their growing bodies.
- Weighted Push Up – Push up is the most basic exercise for strengthening shoulders and arms; it even affects the torso and back as well. Our kids should start with basic push up before doing the weighted push up as they need some upper body and back strength before they can do it. Weighted push up is a modified push up where someone puts a weight on the back of the person doing the exercise. The weight needs to be stable and puts equal pressure all over their back.
- Chin Ups – This exercise targets all the three bicep muscles: the biceps brachia, the brachialis, and the brachioradialis. This is done by finding a tall enough bar where our kids can pull themselves up. The difference between their thumbs has to be 12 inches. They should pull themselves up until their chin touches the bar and then slowly lower. The time they spent on the chin up must be the same time they spend on the chin down.
Now once our kids have spent enough times on the exercises that don’t need equipment and they have developed some strength on their upper body, it is time to amp up the difficulty just a little bit. Of course, still keeping in mind their safety.
- Farmers Walk – This is done by having our aspiring gymnast to pick up a dumbbell in each hand. With a straight back and their arms hanging down their sides, they should start walking back and forth. 30 seconds is the recommended starting time, and then work their way up. This might look simple but after a while their forearms and other muscles will start to burn faster than usual.
- Battle Ropes – This exercise requires a good quality battle rope good for kids. Our kids should stand straight with the said ropes in their hands and then squat, where their butt is parallel to the floor. After that, they have to move the ropes up and down with full force. This should be done for 5 to 10 minutes or as long as our kids are comfortable.
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