Strength Training Exercises for Kids

Strength training exercises for kids will draw mixed opinions among sport coaches. However when done correctly, resistance training will benefit the kid’s in sports.

Strength training is the practice of using weighted resistance e.g. body weight, free weights, and weight machines to build muscles. When participating in resistance training the muscles have to work harder to move. When the muscles have to work harder, they grow stronger and more efficient.

Strength training exercises for kids - facts

Resistance training:

  • improves the bodies joints and bones
  • improves endurance and kids fitness levels
  • helps kids build a sense of balance, control, and awareness of their bodies
  • will enhance the development of sports specific skills and improve sports performance
  • prevent injuries
  • speed up recovery
  • improves the athletes self esteem & self image
  • must be modified for children and not just be a scaled down version of an adults strength training program
  • always be strictly supervised by sports coaches to ensure correct technique, suitable weight and number of repetitions is monitored
  • should be stopped IMMEDIATELY if kids experience any pain, strains, or excess fatigue from the exercises

A youth sports coach should not use strength training exercises for kids to bulk up. Children who do excessive weight training risk causing injury to their growing joints, muscles and bones.

How I use this type of training in my sessions:

  • all ages from 7 years and up have some resistance training incorporated into my training sessions
  • the majority of my work is done using body weight only
  • before using any extra weight, the activities are practiced using ZERO weight to ensure children have correct technique
  • any resistance exercise that cannot be performed at least 8 times is too heavy for the athletes
  • the majority of the activities involve repetitions of 12 - 24 repetitions
  • ensure athletes have conducted some active movement at training before beginning any resistance work

What strength training exercises for kids to do?

Lower body; set ups, lunges, burpies, squats (static & dynamic), skipping

Upper body; push ups, chin ups, dips

Core; sit ups, plank, bicycle legs, leg raises

I will most times incorporate the above into a circuit. I sometimes encourage the athletes to achieve a specific number of reps or allot a time to each activity.

Check out for demonstrations of any of the above kids exercises.

I do not stress about bringing extra equipment to training, rather I use the natural environment to find areas to perform the above exercises.

Swimmers, runners, triathletes, gymnasts will more likely benefit from a structured strength training program as part of their weekly training sessions.

Team sports will use the strength training programs to improve kids fitness levels. A bye product will be increased strength and ability to learn new sports skills.


You as sports coach are responsible for your athletes well being. Enforce strict routines when doing the resistance training, insist on correct technique and monitor all weight and repetitions attempted by athletes.

When working with the athletes constantly discuss and encourage conversations about healthy diet and correct hydration practices.

Children need education in the connection between exercise for kids, rest & recovery, muscle building and sports performance.