Tag Archives: Strength

Super Simple Strength Training Ideas For Kids

How To Strength Train Young Athletes By Challenging Them To Solve Problems

One of the simplest but most beneficial methods of strength training for kids is body weight management training.

I’m not talking about training for weight loss or gain. I am talking about games, exercises and challenges during which the child is required to control and “manage” – i.e. hold, support, move, etc – their body within their environment.

And no, I’m also not talking about traditional body weight exercises . . .

The Problem With Traditional Body Weight Exercises

Not many kids are overly thrilled by performing what we traditionally think of as body weight exercises. e.g. Push-ups, sit-ups and burpees. Frankly, they are boring for most kids, even if we try to dress them up into a circuit. Kids struggle to put them into the context of their daily lives or find an immediate reward in doing them. The exercises are just too repetitive and bland.

That is why I have recently been experimenting with simple challenges that require kids to manage their body weight while performing a variety of manoeuvres as they solve a “problem”.

Such activities can be done out in the field using some basic, easily accessible equipment.

1. “Through-The-Hoop” Challenges

I love this activity. It not only develops strength and mobility but also promotes creativity and connection amongst the kids.


  • The kids work in pairs using one hoop between them.
  • One child manages the hoop, while the other performs the challenge.

Base Activity

  • The child managing the hoop stands it up vertically on the ground and holds it in place for their partner.
  • The child performing the challenge must get through the hoop.


Go through the hoop:

  • Without touching it
  • Without the knees touching the ground
  • With one hand behind back
  • On elbows and toes
  • Feet first/backward
  • While the hoop is held by the partner off the ground at ankle height or knee height
  • Using your own method
Hoops cropped

Simple strength training equipment

2. “Under & Over Hurdles” Challenges

This is an ideal warm up activity if you coach hurdles, but can be used in any context.


  • Training hurdles or other similar soft equipment (e.g. Pool noodles pegged into the ground at either end) that the kids can step over and crawl under.
  • The kids work in pairs with two hurdles between them (depending on numbers and availability of equipment).
  • The hurdles are set up close together, one at a height at which the kids can step over, the other at a height at which they can duck under. (E.g. 45cm and 76cm).

Base Activity

  • The kids take turns to step over the low hurdle and duck under the high hurdle.
  • They then go back the other way i.e. duck under the high hurdle and step over the low hurdle.


Go under and over the hurdles. E.g.:

  • Without touching them
  • Without the knees touching the ground
  • With one hand behind back
  • Holding an object
  • Backwards
  • Jumping the low hurdles
  • Crab walk (face-up) under the high hurdle
  • Using your own creative method

Alter the:

  • The number of hurdles
  • The combination of hurdles e.g. High-low-low-high
Hurdle strength cropped

Over & Under Training Hurdles

3. Obstacle Course Challenges

This is a wonderful activity in which the kids work together to construct the course, exercising all of their creativity. What results is different every time.


Instruct the kids to construct an obstacle course in a straight line over 10 metres, using whatever items you allow them to access. e.g. dome markers, mini hurdles, training hurdles, pool noodles, ribbons, etc.

Untitled design (2)

Examples of child-designed courses

Base Activity

With the constraint of not being allowed to touch any of the obstacles, challenge them to move through the obstacle course using a method of your choosing. e.g. stepping or bear crawling.


  • Add/remove obstacles
  • Lengthen/shorten the course
  • Start from the other end
  • Change the method of movement e.g. crab walk
  • Multiple methods of movement within the course e.g. bear crawl to halfway then crab walk for the remainder.
  • Carry an object through.
  • The athletes choice of movement/s
Strength Obstacle Course Cropped

Another example

Observation & Advice

  • With all of the above activities, the kids will amaze you with what they come up with and how challenging they will make it for themselves.
  • All of the activities can be extraordinarily challenging depending on the constraints you apply and what ideas the kids come up with.
  • Set up the activities so there are no long lines and minimal waiting time.
  • Allow the kids a measure of autonomy but still have the final say on all activities if potential safety issues may arise by the set-ups that the kids are suggesting!


The success of all of the above activities relies on:

  • Providing some simple equipment.
  • Providing some parameters and constraints.
  • Getting out of the way and letting the kids play.

Get out of the way and let the kids play!

Over To You!

Can you develop your own strength development activities using hoops, hurdles or other simple pieces of equipment? Consider the problems and puzzles you can create for the kids to solve. Have you done similar things in the past? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the contact details below.

Further reading

The Missing Ingredient in Youth Physical Development

CYA Membership Email

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, Anchor or via email.

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