Kids seem to be hooked on screens these days. To make sure that children get enough exercise, the popularity of Kids or Junior CrossFit is on the rise. The goal is simple: teaching young children to exercise sufficiently and properly. Posture is especially important. Furthermore, exercising regularly also stimulates the cognitive development of a child, which results in better grades in school.
However, starting your child off with dumbbells and kettlebells unsupervised is not a great idea. These injury prone heavy objects can do a lot of harm. In order to instruct a child in the proper CrossFit movements, a medicine ball (or med ball) workout has proven to be a suitable alternative.
What makes medicine balls kids proof?
A medicine ball is nothing more than a weighted leather ball. Med balls are an easy and fun way to train quick movements, acceleration and strength. One of the benefits of med ball workouts are their relative safety. Everybody knows how to throw, catch or hold a ball. Minimal instruction required! Thus, medicine balls workouts have a limited risk of injury while simultaneously offering a plenitude of dynamic movements.
Unlike dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells, the leather finish of med balls and their lightweight availability (starting at 1 kg) make them a suitable workout instrument for kids. However, we strongly recommend supervision at all times, to instruct kids in the proper use of med balls.
Below, we have listed four med ball exercises that have been adapted so that they can be performed by children.
For this child-friendly twist on this Russian twist, it is important that the child's feet are positioned right underneath their shoulders (i.e. slightly apart). The medicine ball is held in front of the navel, arms bent. The upper body and the ball turn to the left until the ball is next to the hip. Turn back to the starting position and repeat the exercise by turning to the right. In this way, the child trains the abdominal and hip muscles and practices the correct rotation of the upper body.
When a child has mastered the Russian twist, it is time to learn the wood chop. The Wood Chop is also a twist exercise, in which the back, the arms and the legs are used in addition to the belly and the hips. During this exercise the ball moves from left to right and simultaneously from above the head (left) to the right side of the right knee. Make sure that the child's feet are directly underneath their shoulders (i.e. slightly apart). Let the child turn to the left with the ball on the left side above their head (arms stretched and the feet rotate slightly). Instruct the child to turn to the right and from a standing position to a squatting position. The arms remain stretched. As a result, the ball arrives at the right side of the body, at knee height. Repeat this movement in the opposite direction until the child is back to the standing starting position. Then repeat the exercise by turning from right to left.
During the squat swing, the body also changes between the standing and squatting position. During this exercise, the muscles are trained in both the upper body and the lower body, including the shoulders, the upper and lower back, the buttocks, and the quadriceps. Make sure that the child is standing with their feet apart (slightly wider than the shoulders), with the medicine ball in both hands fixed above their head. During this exercise, the ball moves quickly from above the head to between the knees, while simultaneously the body changes from a stretched to a squat position, where the knees are bent and the body is slightly bent forward from the waist up. Reverse this movement until the child is back in the starting position.
Correct squat posture is also trained during the medicine ball squat. This time, the ball stays in the same position. As with the Russian twist, the feet are positioned right underneath the shoulders of the child and the ball is held in front of chest, arms bent. Let the child squat until their upper legs are parallel with the floor. Make sure that their back is stretched (not hollow or rounded) and that the child keeps looking forward (not down). The ball remains at the height of the chest during the exercise. Instruct the child to return to the starting position.
Instructing children about posture and exercise teaches them to use and move their bodies in the correct way. This not only benefits them during gym classes or sporting activities, but also in daily life, for example when lifting heavy objects. In addition, the four exercises mentioned above also occur frequently in other CrossFit elements. This makes it easy for children to switch to the use of barbells, dumbbells or other workout equipment later in life.