If you completed your Certificate IV recently you will have learnt the theory side to training children – they aren’t mini adults, they have a lower absolute aerobic power, they have lower lung volume, decreased muscle mass and are challenged with thermoregulation.
Then there are the legalities; having your Working with Children’s Check/Blue Card, parents’ consent obtained and the screening covered.
It’s now time to train them. But how do you train children?! Can you apply resistance without causing growth plate injuries? Can you apply high intensity bouts without over exerting them? Exercise needs to be enjoyed, but will they like my programming?
We’ll admit, it can be a challenge to train children, but hey so are all clients that are considered “Specific Population” and all must be proceeded with some caution.
Here are five tips on training children that you can implement into your programs
1. With all the exercises you program for children, you want to relate these back their fundamental movement skills.
These movements use the child’s head, arms, torso and legs and allow them to perform various movement patterns such as running, jumping, hopping, catching and balancing which are all important for their development.
2. Weight bearing exercises are great for children and their bone development!
And the best kind of weight is their own body weight. Having them participate in locomotion style activities such as running into jumping into crawling all assist to strengthen the body and developing the child’s coordination. Games you could incorporate would be: running races, hop scotch, leap frog, jump rope, dodge ball, bull rush or swimming.
3. Ball coordination is a fun and interactive way for children to exercise, while developing important skills.
Activities that involve throwing, passing, kicking, dribbling, shooting or bouncing are a great team activity and is likely to be enjoyed by most children. Games you could incorporate would be basketball, netball and soccer, cricket, under and over throwing games, cannonball, dodge ball and hand ball.
4. The simple art of balancing is an important skill to master from an early age and can easily be incorporated into training programs.
By mastering balance, children will grow to have more control of their body and in both motion and still activities. Exercises that have the children stop and start, balancing and turning on the spot can help to build these skills. Games you could incorporate could be balance beam practice, climbing, Simon says, stuck in the mud and twister.
5. Incorporate additional exercises
As children start to develop and mature you can look to incorporate more body weight exercises, machine based exercises and the use of light free weights – but only if you as a trainer are confident in their ability to perform basic body weight exercises.
At the end of the day the key is variety, fun, have them enjoy moving and enjoy your company.