Ensuring that your child does a range of leg exercises can help him build needed muscle. In addition to maintaining healthy fitness levels, leg exercises for children can also help with sports by reducing the risk of injury. Bodyweight exercises for kids are ideal, as they will not excessively strain your child’s young muscles and will help instill good exercise habits.
The Basic Squat
The basic squat is an easy bodyweight exercise that builds strength in your child’s glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. The exercise is safe for children to do, but make sure that their knees never extend past their toes. Have your child stand with their feet hip-width apart, hands on the hips, and slowly sink down, bending at their knees and hips. Make sure their back is straight, and have them sink as low as possible without letting their knees go past the ends of their toes. Have them slowly rise back to standing position, and repeat 10 times for two sets.
Standing up and sitting down
Standing up from a low step strengthens the hip and knee muscles. The height of the step is adjusted to make the exercise more difficult as the child gets stronger.
Calf raises strengthen your child’s calf muscles, which tend to get less attention than the thigh or hip muscles. With their feet spaced hip-width apart, have your child place their hands on their hips and lift their heels off the ground. Standing on the balls of their feet for eight seconds, slowly lower back down, returning their feet to the floor. Repeat 10 times for three sets.
Stand on one leg with hand support
In this exercise the child stands on one leg supporting lightly on the hands and then claps the hands to encourage standing on one leg without any support.
Standing on one leg challenge
Being able to stand on one leg is one of those skills that children really value. If approached in a way that allows for success and a way to measure progress most children are willing to spend time practicing to improve their level of skill.
Stepping up and down
Step ups are a good way to strengthen the leg extensor muscles for stair climbing and walking up a hill. Done fast they also challenge balance and improve general fitness
Jumping jacks are a high-energy exercise that builds all of your child’s leg and hip muscles while also working their upper body muscles and giving them a good cardio workout. Standing with their arms along the sides of their body, tell them to keep their legs together and their back straight. Have your child “jump” up by pushing off the ground with both feet and raising both their arms out to the side at the same time, so that their legs spread open in an “V” shape. Their feet should be spread shoulder-width apart, and their arms need to be fully extended upwards along the side of their head. Jumping again, have them bring their arms and legs back alongside their body, returning to starting position. This is one jumping jack. Have them do 10 jumping jacks for three sets.
Bridging for hip strength and flexibility
Bridging exercises are good for strengthening the hip and back extensor muscles. They are particularly helpful for training the back and hip muscles to work together in swimming crawl and backstroke.
Bridging can also be used to actively stretch tightness the iliotibial band often seen in children with joint hypermobility.