The Best No-Equipment Upper Body Exercises For Children

Children's Fitness, Judo

My father had an old saying that he used when he and I would watch boxing on TV. He would often comment that certain fighters looked like “they couldn’t punch their way out of a wet paper bag.” While obviously a bit of hyperbole, the overall concept was immediately clear - those fighters demonstrated an obvious lack of upper body strength and power.


When we’re working with children, addressing the issue of upper body strength poses many challenges. Most exercise equipment is nowhere near scaled for children’s sizes, with bars too thick for their hands and seats too high or too low for their height. Of course, there is also the ongoing debate as to whether children under certain ages should engage in any form of weight lifting at all. What’s a teacher or coach to do?


Scalable bodyweight exercises are a great answer. They’re progressive and adjustable, and almost all of them are multi-joint compound style exercises. Best of all, many of them require little or no equipment. So let’s look at each area of the upper body and the best exercises for them, along with some lead-ups and variations.


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