#1) Meet kiddos where they are. For young kids, invite them to be a partner. Maybe they can count your reps, tell you when to start, etc.
On the other hand, older kids might be able to participate more fully, and maybe even train alongside you.
No matter what, it’s a good idea to invite kids to join when and IF they want, without requiring it.
#2 ) While every kid is different,here are some very general guidelines from Coach Matt’s experience:
2-6 Years Old. These kids are often way more interested in just playing, wrestling, etc. So doing a specific workout may be challenging. However, these kids may still want to be a part of things, so look for ways to get them involved.
7-12 Years Old. At this age, they can start handling a little more structure. They will probably really enjoy “skills” training (more on this below), as well as many play aspects.
13+ (Depending on the Kid). They may be ready to step in and join you more fully in a workout if they want to.
#3) Consider a focus on skills/practice. It can be really frustrating to have a timed exercise or workout interrupted.
Instead, consider thinking of it like “practice time” of building a skill. You can practice for a couple of minutes, take a break, come back to it, etc.
Kids might respond better to “skills” training instead of “exercises” too. Together, you can practice:
#4) There are lots of different ways to get workouts in throughout the day:
Short workouts: a lot of times Coach Matt finds himself squeezing a workout in 10 mins or less.
Accumulation: take little micro-breaks throughout the day to do a couple of reps of some bodyweight exercises. Kind of like “exercise snacks.”
Longer workouts: maybe creating that time and space for your training is still important. If possible, defend this time and let the kids move in and out of the frame as they are interested.
“I go, you go”: you may snag a workout set in, then play a game with the kiddo, 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.
#5) Whatever happens is okay! Remember, do the best you can, and it’s perfectly fine if your workout gets cut short because your kid starts drawing on the walls.
The 8 Best Exercises to Do With Young Kids
If your kids are light enough, you can actually use them as makeshift weights during your workout.
Just be careful, and if anything feels unsafe, don’t do it.
But if things DO feel good, here are some exercises you can do along with kiddos (or using them as weight).
Coach Matt recommends having your kid’s legs come forward, and for you to grab them, almost like you would with a safety squat bar.
Before attempting this, make sure you can do squats with comparable weight!
Much like the bodyweight squats above, but instead do a lunge:
Since you’re engaging one leg at a time, this can be really challenging with a kid on your shoulders.
#3) Touch the Sky
As Coach Matt explains, getting young kids to do squats and push-ups might be tough.
But kids do like to jump!
For “Touch the Sky,” sit in a squat or frog position. Then stand-up tall, arms reaching towards the sky.
Bonus points if you jump up!
This will train many of the same muscles as you would with squats.
Another good squat substitution to try with kids is long jumps!
You probably want to try this on some type of soft surface (or in your backyard), like the tumbling mat Coach Matt uses. As long as it’s safe, jumping can be really fun with kids.
Make a game out of it, by pointing to a line (or marking one with a soft object) and seeing who can jump over it. You’ll not only train your lower body with jumps, but you’ll also build some explosive power.
The most important thing you can do now: try an exercise or game with your kids!
You’ll never know how your kids deal with your workouts, until you try it out.
So pick one of the exercises or games we highlighted and give it a whirl.
If it devolves to chaos, you can always try again with a different workout or strategy.
Again, just do the best you can.
If you want some more help, Nerd Fitness is here for you.
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Alright, I want to hear from you and your experience with working out with your kiddos!
Are you a parent who is now learning how to exercise with your kids?
Any tips or tricks for training with screaming kids in the background?
Any fun games we missed?
Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you have older kids, they might be more into doing a workout right alongside you. If so, have them pick a routine from The 7 Best At-Home Workouts and try it together!