Introduction – Working Out is for Little Partisans Too!

Greetings, esteemed Partisan Brothers! I’ve been bouncing around a bit on the themes I’ve covered – mostly fitness-related, with a training story thrown in. Well, today, I have a special treat for the awesome American Partisan community: a post on physical training (PT) for kids. You see, adults aren’t the only people that should be working out. Aside from youth sports, there are super-productive activities a loving parent can do with even very young children to get them into a life of PT early. Obviously, exercise is a critical part of the fitness lifestyle, and there really is no reason why parents can’t include a solid workout program as a fixed part of good child-rearing. Being a fitness guy for my whole adult life, it was a sacred obligation and a no-brainer for me to have my own son get into exercise; in fact, I was actually quite anxious in waiting for my son to get to a suitable age and size so he could start exercising. Since then, exercise was and has continued to be a non-negotiable fixture of my young boy’s life. For parents that are not necessarily into exercise, or are into exercise but don’t know where to begin with PT for their kids, this post is for you! Why not have your kids get into realistic and productive exercise as early as possible in life?

In truth, by getting your children into exercise early in their lives, you are giving them an absolutely incredible and invaluable leg up on health and fitness that offers advantages both immediately, and over the long term. I can’t even count how many of my adult personal training clients lament the fact that they got into exercise so doggone late in life, and that lamentation is not misplaced. After realizing solid strength increases, improvements in quality of life, and seeing what is possible even at a later point in life, they quickly conclude that they could have been that much further along in strength and fitness even decades before, in some cases. The main point here is, there is just NO substitute for an early start to, and continued performance of, any kind of training, and this particularly applies in spades to PT (and really, any kind of physical training effort – not just exercise). A child that starts working out at the earliest possible age – I’d say around 3 years old – will be far stronger, faster, and more agile than all his/her peers, while also having the kind of elevated self-confidence that excellence in these basic physical skills brings. As an added plus, the child that works out will look great too, to lend to the self-confidence just mentioned; that jacked Little Partisan will be getting ALL the ladies when the time comes! And what parent doesn’t want to have a handsome kid? Finally, the physically fit child that decides to get into sports in their later childhood will absolutely CRUSH their opponents in that sport, performance-wise – another confidence-builder.

In sum, it’s time to consider how to institute a PT program in your kids’ lives! I’ve been working my son out since he was just shy of 3 years old, and several years later, he looks awesome and is damn strong; he’s going to give me a run for my money any day now LOL. The good news is, other Partisans can get in on the action too, and I’ll present the way in this post. 

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The Forever Fundamentals – Applying the American Partisan Workout Fundamentals to Children’s Workouts

One of the first challenges I had to deal with when formulating a workout for my son was how to present exercise to him in a format that didn’t demand much or really any technical explanation. I mean, understanding technical details on exercise form is critical for good execution, but at the stage of development of many 3 year-old’s, not much explaining is possible. So when it comes to toddlers/young children starting out a workout program, the exercise lineup is going to be one that is easy to execute, and that doesn’t need much technical detail. Also, the loads used by children will be rather light, at least at first. As your kids get older and the loads lifted become heavier (but never too heavy), it behooves the parent to refine the execution of exercises as much as the child can grasp in order to exercise safely, but in the beginning, it’s really just a matter of having your toddler simply imitate your demonstration of the exercise. The nice thing is, the execution of the exercises I introduce in this post should be as easy for a child to understand as it is for the parent reading this post; the exercises to be suggested here for your kids are super-basic, intuitive, natural, and functional everyday movements that don’t require very strict technique. I still do many of these exercises (or their derivatives) with my young son to this day.

Also, because of the more general, non-specific, multi-joint focus of these functional exercises for kids, as well as the light loading, you are avoiding some of the potential risks associated with more traditional exercises using iron weights. The conventional wisdom, probably still around, is that a child’s growth will be stunted by lifting weights; the idea here is that young bones that are still developing will grow less when they are subjected to the regular stress of heavy loads. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but why risk it? Children don’t need heavy loading anyway, and will benefit far more from lifting simple objects that are more awkward to handle than balanced iron weights. We’ll get into the methods of resistance/loading to use in your children’s strength training in just a bit.

All that said, the beautiful thing about working out your kids is that, once again, the American Partisan Workout Fundamentals that I painstakingly detailed over six posts in prior months are the basis for Little Partisan workouts as well. When it came time for me to create a workout program for my then-toddler son, I had to think it over for a bit, but the task was made easier by my application of the Fundamentals when deciding what I’d do with him. Specifically, I referred to American Partisan Workout Fundamentals, Concept #2: Push-Pull-Legs + Core-Grip-Neck to form the structure of his workout plan. This important Workout Fundamental requires that the Partisan interested in maximizing his overall physical capabilities should exercise in each of the general movement types that the body is capable of. Well, the same applies to Little Partisans! Parents on board with having their kids do PT will stay with the Push-Pull-Legs concept, with a generous portion of Core and Grip thrown in (Neck work is not a huge priority for toddlers/small children, in my opinion). Certain other Workout Fundamentals may also not apply very readily, but Push-Pull-Legs is truly fundamental, even for kids. So when the time came to put a workout program together for my toddler son, I stayed true to Workout Fundamental Concept #2 in order to create or use exercises that he could do without too much technical detail or the necessity for cues of any sort. The idea here is, “just go!”, with the movement being so intuitive, natural, and easily grasped, that even a toddler can jump in, feet first!

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Important Considerations for Undertaking a Little Partisan PT Program with Your Kids

Key Requirements of the Little Partisan PT Program

  • Number of Workouts and Required Time per Week: Expect to do PT with your kids around 4 – 5 times per week for 30 – 45 minutes per workout. Personally, I have my son do the workouts on consecutive days (Sunday – Wednesday), with 2 – 3 days of rest (mostly coinciding with the weekend). Choose whatever pattern and time of day that fit your time constraints. 
  • Equipment Required:
    • Homemade Little Partisan Workout Bag (pictured in the featured image of this post and below: a bag filled with sand, rice, beans, lentils, or other dry, granular material – details to follow below on how to construct your own Little Partisan Workout Bag)
    • Very light dumbbells (starting with 3 lbs. for the smallest children, and heavier for larger children) – preferably neoprene-covered (as pictured above and below) to soften the dumbbells up; plastic dumbbells filled with sand works well here too for their softness. However, if there are no other options, then metal dumbbells can be used, but the Partisan parent supervising the workout needs to keep alert to the child’s handling of the dumbbell at all times (to avoid them dropping the dumbbells on toes or punching holes in drywall). 
    • Small (but sturdy) backpack
    • A flight of stairs
  • Fixed Time of Day and Fixed Days for Workouts: Regularity is key, so that your child knows to expect a PT session, and when to expect it.
  • GO SLOW AND GENTLE! Needless to say, nobody wants their Little Partisan to get injured from well-intentioned exercise. Can you imagine the thought of your kid getting a herniated spinal disc from overstraining on a lift? Yeah… cringey stuff, for sure. In order to avoid injury, the conscientious Partisan parent should use good judgment when having their children work out. Start with very light loads, and very gradually work your way up. It’s vital to consolidate your child’s strength-training gains by being very gradual, and spending time lifting the same loads for a good, long while before increasing the load. My son has sometimes spent close to a year lifting the same loads, as I supervise his consolidation of gains. Be conservative and careful about load increases and the amount of work done in any single workout. You also want to assure your Little Partisan’s success by making the work doable, so that they can get more confident and come to accept the exercise program naturally.
  • Progressive Overload (American Partisan Workout Fundamentals, Concept #6): The above being said about gentle increases, as mentioned in a previous post, the number of repetitions and the load performed by your child must increase over time, however gradually. For children the rate of increase is very slow and modest as gains are consolidated and the body is accustomed to the rigor of the current load. Nevertheless, since your growing child is literally getting stronger every day, the loads should always somehow be increasing over time. Remember: no increase = no progress = waste of time. While the Little Partisan may make only very incremental progress using light loads, it is still progress. This rule is non-negotiable, even for kids. 
  • Rewards/Incentives for Increased Enthusiasm: This is an important consideration, particularly when starting the program for the first time. From my experience, kids (like adults) don’t dig the strain and sweat of doing exercise, especially when there are so many distractions all around. At the same time, I don’t want to drop the hammer and impose my authority unless I have no choice – this gets old in a hurry, unfortunately. However, incentives like fun food (hopefully not too unhealthy), toys, or other rewards can be used at first (and for however long) to soften up the tedious nature of the workout. For example, give your Little Partisan a piece of dried fruit after every few rounds of exercise. Eventually, the PT Program will have become habit, and simple hugs and high-fives should be sufficient to phase out the physical rewards and go with your child’s budding sense of pride in their physical accomplishments. And… if all else fails, you’ll have to roll out the “because I said so!” position. So be it! At the end of the day, you’re the parent, and you’re in charge.
  • Constant Vigilance and Observation: Due to the potential risks associated with any kind of physical training, you’ll need to be observing your child very carefully 100% of the time. Some exercises involve use of iron dumbbells (which are heavy enough to cause injury, even if light and/or coated), while other exercises involve climbing stairs under load. Injuries are always possible, especially if you take your eye off your child. That said, Little Partisan PT time is NOT the time for a Partisan parent to be screwing around or getting distracted with whatever. Workout Time is QUALITY TIME with your child, and so you must mind them continuously for their safety. At the same time, it’s fun to watch your kid work out, and I imagine Partisan parents will agree. 

Dealing with Resistance from Your Little Partisan

The idea of having your kids exercise and reap the rewards of exercise should be quite intriguing to the Partisan parent, and hopefully, many of you are already anxious to get started. However, you must also bear in mind that many children will resist or even despise regular PT, at least at first. I mean, childhood should certainly be about fun and enjoyment – kids need to be kids, after all; I am in 100% agreement with this notion. Yet at the same time, I think you’ll all agree that your child could certainly afford to go with 30 – 45 minutes less of tablet or videogame time (or whatever other childhood pleasure). And for those parents whose kids don’t play with tablets or videogames (good on you!), we could say just as well that playtime could stand to be shortened for the ultra-important and noble building activity of Little Partisan PT several times a week. So what if your child resists at first? You’re the parent, and while I suggest above that you try using rewards and incentives, at the end of the day, you may have to impose yourself and demand that your kids do the day’s exercise, just like you’d do with Sunday church. As the adult Partisan, you know better the incredible importance of fitness, and so you may need to ignore your child’s resistance and just press on.

In most cases, your kid should grow accustomed to this demand over time, assuming you have them exercise faithfully and regularly. Most kids will get into the process, given enough time and success. My son absolutely loathed exercise at first, and resisted bitterly with lots of crying and whining, even with me using incentives. Did I give a shit? Not at all. I was not taking “no” for an answer, period. Exercise is SACRED, and you are giving your child a great gift by having them do regular PT, even if they don’t know it; a bit of whining never deterred me from making my kid exercise, and you should adopt the same position as a parent concerned with their child’s optimal development. Several years later and after having formed a solid PT-oriented lifestyle, when my son sees the ol’ Little Partisan Workout Bag (to be described in detail below), he dutifully moves to start his exercise with it, no questions or qualms; he’s quite pleased with himself after a tough workout.

No Missing Workouts

Also important to consider when undertaking a Little Partisan PT Program, and just like I tell adult Partisan Operators that they should apply to their own exercise programs, LITTLE PARTISAN PT WORKOUTS MUST NOT BE MISSED (American Partisan Workout Fundamentals, Concept #8: Workout DisciplineWorkout Discipline Rule #4: No Missing Workouts)! I know, I know… there I go, beating a dead horse. But whatever… what’s good for the American Partisan warrior is also good for the Little Partisan Hard Charger (in most cases), so make sure that you set aside time each day/week consistently to have your child(ren) do PT regularly. Not convenient to do your child’s workout on some weekday because “something came up”? Irrelevant. Feeling tired after a long day? Too bad, so sad. Find a way! Your kid NEEDS to work out, and the only way that’s going to happen is if you treat the workout as the sacred duty that it is and as if it were your own workout; it’s not optional. If you can’t do the workout with your kid on a particular day, then have your spouse/significant other help out a bit. If worse comes to worse, choose an alternate day. Bottom line: do not miss workouts with your kids! This ain’t no game. And if you want them to grow up to be capable warriors (we patriots are definitely gonna need those, I’d say), then you’ll take this to heart.

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How to Create Your Own Little Partisan Workout Bag, Step-by-Step

The Little Partisan Workout Bag (“LPWB”) is a key piece of lifting equipment for your Little Partisan. Since this is a workout program for toddlers and little children, a soft, harmless bag is well-suited for our purposes. A bag filled with 10 or even 20 lbs. of rice, beans, sand, or lentils is suitably heavy for resistance, but is pretty much harmless if it drops on your child’s toe or gets handled roughly. The beauty of the correctly-filled LPWB is that it presents an awkward lifting object that shifts and moves as it changes positions, thus creating a constant demand on a lot of musculature, all at once. This shifting of the LPWB’s filler materials works not just the muscles directly involved in the lifting of the bag, but also lots of small stabilizer muscles throughout the body and core as well, making for a very rich exercise tool to work with – more difficult rep for rep than lifting balanced iron weights, even. Needless to say, a soft workout bag is an excellent training tool all around, even for adults!

Making a Little Partisan Workout Bag is pretty straightforward and should take around 1 hour. You’ll need six common, off-the-shelf items to create the LPWB:

  • Granular Filler Material – Any of the following works well: Rice; beans; lentils; sand (although sand can be messy when your LPWB eventually ruptures, and sand is prone to leaking faster than the other filler materials, due to its small grains)
  • Heavy-Duty Contractor Trash Bags – At least two: one to contain the filler material, and the other to hold the filled bag for reinforcement and to cope with the beating the bag will take over time
  • Bathroom Scale – The kind most houses have to check body weight
  • Stapler – A regular stapler will work fine, to bind and seal the heavy-duty trash bag after its rectangular shape has been formed; ditto for the final burlap bag
  • Duct Tape – The tried n’ true, beloved tape for binding and bracing your filled heavy-duty trash bags and final burlap bag
  • Burlap Bag – As an outer bag, to hold and protect the trash bags containing the filler material

To make the Little Partisan Workout Bag:

  1. Start with your heavy-duty contractor trash bag in hand, and fill it with the desired amount of the chosen material. Approximately 8 – 12 lbs. of fill should be a great starting weight for your toddler – a bit lighter for girls, a bit heavier for boys. Again, use your good judgment to decide the actual weight of the LPWB, depending on your child’s size. Confirm the weight of the filled trash bag by holding the bag on top of your head (holding the bag in front of you may distort the reading), and stepping on your scale.
    • Repeat your weighing several times to be sure the reading is consistent, and proceed to Step 2. 
  2. Once the bag is filled to the appropriate weight, align the edges of the opening of the trash bag, and make a 1-inch fold with the aligned edges. Staple across the fold created in order to roughly seal the bag. A staple every 1 – 2 inches should be sufficient to keep the trash bag from opening.
  3. Concentrate the filler material into one of the corners of the sealed bag to form a roughly rectangular shape while making sure that the filler material inside isn’t bound too compactly or densely within the trash bag (we want the filler to shift around some inside the bag to create more challenge and recruit more small muscles).
    • The size of the “rectangle” made in the corner of the sealed bag should be around the length and width of your child’s torso, from collarbone to hips (or so).
  4. After obtaining a rectangular shape for the granular material-filled trash bag, neatly wrap any excess trash bag material around the bag, making sure to keep in conformity with the rectangular shape and size of the filled trash bag.
  5. Cut suitably-sized pieces of duct tape to wrap around the bag and bind/brace your sealed, wrapped, rectangular bag into its final shape
    • One long strip of tape should go several times around either end of the bag, around 1-inch from the very end.
  6. Take the second heavy-duty trash bag, and repeat Steps 3 through 5:
    • Place the first filled, sealed, bound bag into the second trash bag, and place it in a corner of the second bag.
    • Staple the open side of the second trash bag like you did in step 3, and carefully wrap the second bag’s excess material around the first bag. 
    • Bind the ends of the second bag with duct tape in the same way you bound the first.
  7. Now, take your semi-finalized LPWB, and place it into the burlap bag; align the edges of the open side of the burlap bag, and create and staple a 1-inch fold (like in Step 2). At this point, you should have a loaded burlap bag with a lot of empty, slack space. 
  8. Remove the slack from the burlap bag by folding the top, stapled end downwards neatly and continuously, such that there is around 10 – 15% slack capacity remaining in the burlap bag, and staple the new fold yet again (1-inch or so fold, like in Steps 2 and 7)
  9. Cut a length of duct tape that extends width-wise past the top edges of the stapled burlap bag by around 2-inches each side, and carefully tape the very top edge of the fold, with 1/2 the tape width-wise on each side; wrap the excess tape around the sides so that none of it extends beyond the side of the burlap bag (see photo below).
  10. Finally, wrap a long strip of duct tape around only the very top of the flat, stapled burlap bag so that it completely covers the duct-taped top edge. Wrap several times to both cover the exposed staples and also reinforce the sealing of the bag.

Making the LPWB doesn’t have to be an exact process – my bags come out looking a bit different each time. The featured image of this post contains my LPWB’s, for Partisans’ reference; I will post it below to capture the entire image:

Little Partisan Workout Bag + Neoprene Coated Dumbbells

One final note about the Little Partisan Workout Bag: this great workout tool will take a severe beating over the course of time, and may eventually rupture and start leaking filler material. I use duct tape (as you can see in the photo) to patch up holes that form in the outer bag. In order to maximize the longevity of your LPWB, make sure your Little Partisan doesn’t handle the bag to roughly by slamming it on the floor when putting it back down.

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Little Partisan PT Exercise List

Last, but not least, I am very proud to present the Little Partisan PT Program for AP readers! Time to turn your kid into a Little American Partisan Operator!

*** DISCLAIMER: THE READER/PARENT ASSUMES ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND ACTIONS WHEN PERFORMING THESE WORKOUTS! ***

Day 1 – Heavy Backpack Stair Climb + “Wheelbarrow Walk“: Legs (Front); Push (Horizontal/Vertical); Core; Cardiovascular; Balance

  • Place the LPWB into a suitably sturdy and properly-sized backpack; cinch the backpack straps as tight against your Little Partisan’s back as is reasonable so the backpack doesn’t hang too low or flop around.
  • With the backpack strapped on snugly, have your child go up a flight of stairs; make sure your child is upright and not putting their hands on the stairs in front of them to help climb.
  • Once at the top of the stairs, have your child carefully come back down the stairs, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Where more flights of stairs are available (for example, in a multi-story building), you can have your child go up additional flights sequentially, as is possible/reasonable.
  • After every 2 – 3 flights of stairs climbed/sets performed, remove your child’s backpack and prepare for the Wheelbarrow Walk.
  • The Wheelbarrow Walk is a “hand walk” of sorts, performed by having your child place their palms on the floor while you grasp their ankles.
  • Once the “Wheelbarrow” is formed, have your child “walk” a certain distance; the exact distance is up to you, but should be long enough to be effective for your child’s state of fitness. Start with “runways” of modest length, and progress from there.
  • Upon completing the Wheelbarrow Walk, replace the heavy backpack on your child’s back and repeat the process for the chosen number of cycles.

Notes on Executing the Heavy Backpack Stair Climb + “Wheelbarrow Walk”

  • Have your child perform the repetitions of this exercise one after another with as little rest as is reasonable – kids have LOTS of energy, so wear them out! Sequential execution will increase the cardiovascular aspect of the exercise as well – an added bonus.
  • Increase the repetitions of stair climbing over time and as warranted until you reach 15 flights altogether, with a Wheelbarrow Walk every 2 – 3 climbs; I would try to add 1 repetition every 2 – 4 weeks, depending on the age of the child and the load used. More load = longer intervals between increases in backpack load.
  • Once your child reaches 15 repetitions (flights) of the stair climb, have them stay at that level of difficulty for a few months – it’s critical to go slowly so that your child can acclimate to the work and build their bodies to match the rigor until it is relatively easy.
  • After your child has spent some time doing 15 repetitions (i.e., 5 – 7 cycles of the Climb + Walk) and consolidating their gains, then is time to increase backpack load by adding dumbbells / workout balls / more LPWB’s inside the backpack.
  • Be sure to increase the length of the Wheelbarrow Walk “runway” over time as well. The length of the “runway” should not be so long that the child tires out in any single Wheelbarrow Walk effort.
  • Important: Make sure your child’s hips don’t sag during the Wheelbarrow Walk!! The entire point of the exercise is to use the core, so make sure your child’s hips are in line with their shoulders, or close to it, as they walk on their hands.

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Day 2 – LPWB Lift, Carry, and Place: Legs (Back); Pull (Vertical); Push (Vertical); Grip; Core

  • Very straightforward. Select a “runway”, and place the LPWB at one end of the runway; at the other end of the runway, place a sufficiently tall and sturdy platform. 
  • Have your child lift the LPWB to their hips or to chest level, and have them carry it across the “runway” to the platform setup at the other end.
  • Once they arrive at the platform, have them then hoist or even pop the bag up with their hips to get it to collarbone level, and then push/press the LPWB onto the platform.
  • The child should then remove the bag from the platform, carry the LPWB back to the starting point on the “runway”, and gently (hopefully) place the LPWB on the deck.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, to a maximum of 15 repetitions. 

Notes on LPWB Lift, Carry, and Place

  • Have your child perform the repetitions of this exercise one after another with as little rest as is reasonable – kids have LOTS of energy, so wear them out! Sequential execution will increase the cardiovascular aspect of the exercise as well – an added bonus.
  • Select or create a sturdy surface that is approximately the same height as your child to use for this exercise; a table of normal height is usually a good starting point, but you’ll need something taller eventually. I use an adjustable-height Husky workbench, which has been versatile and nice to use.
  • Increase difficulty by adding repetitions of the LPWB Lift, Carry, and Place until your child reaches 15 repetitions. 
  • Consolidate for some time before increasing the load. Once again, have your child perform 15 repetitions at the same load for several weeks or months. Let their precious lower backs and other body parts accustom to the rigor of the work to avoid a permanent injury, heaven forbid!
  • After some time doing 15 repetitions at a given load, it’s time to increase the weight of the LPWB by 2 – 3 lbs. (or so); even a modest increase like this will be significant, relative to the size of the current bag.
  • A good practice when beginning this exercise is to have your child place the bag on a chair, which is much lower than a table, so that they can build some basic lifting strength onto a low platform. This may remove the “placing” (pushing/pressing) part at the end of the movement, but over time, your child can progress to higher heights until they can safely reach the height of a table and then, higher.

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Day 3 – Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk Up the Stairs: Legs (Front); Grip; Core; Shoulder Girdle (from the bracing action required in this exercise); Cardiovascular; Balance

  • Have your child take a dumbbell in each hand – a toddler should be able to handle a 3 to 5 lb. dumbbell just fine! Make sure they are holding the middle of the handle for balance.
  • The child will then climb a flight of stairs (if multiple flights of stairs are available, so much the better!); make sure to stay behind them to monitor the position of the dumbbells at all times so that they don’t punch into the wall due to sloppy handling (a toddler may do that).
  • After climbing the flight(s) of stairs, have your child carefully descend the steps, and pay close attention to their balance as they descend with the load of the dumbbells. 
  • Repeat until your child reaches the desired number of repetitions for the workout, up to 15 repetitions total.

Notes on Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk Up the Stairs

  • Have your child perform the repetitions of this exercise one after another with as little rest as is reasonable – kids have LOTS of energy, so wear them out! Sequential execution will increase the cardiovascular aspect of the exercise as well – an added bonus. For this particular exercise, taking a 1-minute (or so) break after every 2 – 3 climbs may be beneficial to recover some grip strength.
  • Make sure your child is grasping the dumbbells as tightly as possible – no lazy “monkey grip” (i.e., grasping with the ends of the fingers)!

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Day 4 – Sandbag Stair Climb + Straight-Leg Throw-Arm Sit-Ups: Legs (Front/Back); Pull (Horizontal); Core (Abdominals and Lower Back); Cardiovascular; Balance

  • Have your child lift the LPWB to either hip or chest level, and march up a flight of stairs (chest level will be a bit easier to carry).
  • After climbing the flight of stairs while holding the LPWB, have your child carefully descend the stairs while paying careful attention to balance and smooth stepping.
  • Your child should perform a set of Straight-Leg Throw-Arm Sit-Ups after every 3 repetitions/climbs with the LPWB, for a maximum of 15 repetitions of Sit-Ups per set performed.
  • Repeat until your child performs the desired number of repetitions/cycles.

Notes on Sandbag Stair Climb + Straight-Leg Throw-Arm Sit-Ups

  • Have your child perform the repetitions of this exercise one after another with as little rest as is reasonable – kids have LOTS of energy, so wear them out! Sequential execution will increase the cardiovascular aspect of the exercise as well – an added bonus.
  • Throw-Arm Straight-Leg Sit-Ups are performed as follows: Start by having your child lie on their back with arms extended straight above their head and legs perfectly straight; have them throw their arms forward to generate the momentum for the start of the Sit-Up and sit all the way up; have them lie back down, and repeat for the prescribed number of reps. NOTE: With very young children/toddlers, you may have to hold their ankles and even link fingers in an opposing thumbless grip in order to assist at first, but over time, your child should quickly get to a point that they won’t need any external assistance. Work towards that point!
  • Increase difficulty by adding repetitions of the Sandbag Stair Climb until your child reaches 15 repetitions. 
  • Consolidate for some time before increasing the load. Once again, have your child perform 15 repetitions at the same load for several weeks or months. Let their precious lower backs and other body parts accustom to the rigor of the work to avoid a permanent injury, heaven forbid!
  • After some time doing 15 repetitions at a given load, it’s time to increase the weight of the LPWB by 2 – 3 lbs. (or so); even a modest increase like this will be significant, relative to the size of the current bag.
  • Keep the repetitions the same for both the Heavy Backpack Stair Climb and the Sandbag Stair Climb so that they will both require a larger, heavier bag at the same time. Nothing wrong with having two separate LPWB’s of different weights, but I like uniformity, so I keep the reps the same for these so that I only have to make one bag for everything.

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Wrap-Up: Little Partisans Can Be Operators Too!

So there it is: a full workout program for your toddlers and small children! No longer can any reader say that they’d love to have their kid get strong, but don’t know what to do – you do now! And with all that overflowing energy, your kid will get stronger, and you’ll also be able to tire them out some in a constructive way. There is no reason why your children can’t get on a solid path towards being incredibly strong and super-capable performers at an early age, so that when they reach their teen years and then adulthood, they are formidable, self-confident warriors that can achieve great things in the physical training realm. Looks like we’ll need it, at the rate things are going, eh?

I hope to write more posts about this topic in the future, depending on what kind of feedback I get. There are other exercises out there, and older children can do an even greater variety of exercises! However, the workout presented here is an excellent starting point, and can be executed from a very early age; the exercises provided here are evergreen, and effective forever – adults can benefit too!

Thanks again for reading this long post – I trust you’ll have gained something from it, and I hope to get some good comments and feedback. Also, feel free to email me at [[email protected]] with any specific questions or concerns; I’ll be glad to help. Now go put that Little Partisan to work! 

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