Have you ever heard of Paul Tsatsouline? He is a former Soviet fitness instructor who has a good following here in the States. He’s fun to read and has a different take on fitness and strength than most American strength trainers.
Pavel is a proponent of doing a few difficult exercises and mastering them. He doesn’t believe in variety.
I disagree with him, especially when it comes to kids and fitness. And for that matter, myself. I don’t have the discipline to focus on a few exercises. I get bored very easy. One of the reason I’ve been able to stay with my current fitness program is because it changes frequently.
In his book, The Naked Warrior one of his exercises is the one arm push-up. I remember being able to do these very well back in my 20’s. (The other memory of them is of 80 year old Jack Palance ripping them off at the Academy Awards. Check it out here.
Recently, I reread his book and thought I’d try them out. I’m doing (attempting) every time I come through the front door. I try about five modified on both my right and left arms.
What I like about them is they work the whole body. My core muscles go into overdrive trying to stay stablized. I can feel my glutes, legs and back working as well. I hold the up position and go down as far as I can (about five inches!) and then come up.
Just holding the up position is an isometric challenge. By engaging the core, kids will be working on the strength they need to run, jump, swim, kick and throw.
They are very difficult but fun. I think kids will like them as a challenge.
Two others which are similar because they are mostly an isometric hold are the extended and wide push-ups.
To do the extended push-up, begin on your knees. Reach both arms out in front about 45 degrees and then bring the legs back so you’re holding your body up in an extended plank. This itself is a great isometric hold.
I like to slightly bend the elbows and go down a few inches and then come back up. But either way works.
To do a wide push-up, start on your knees and place your arms out to the side. Have your fingers point away from the midline (point away from the body). They should be about double shoulder width apart.
Now bring your legs back and go into a plank position.
Again you can hold it or slightly bend the elbow and sink down.
Kids love challenges and these will definitely challenge them. Or try them yourself!
Coach Ron Usher