Total Gym Fitness Program For The Kiddos


Total Gym Workout Program For Kids

The American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend at least 60 minutes of activity per day, with strength and bone building activities at least 3 times a week. As easy as this may sound, the reality is that children’s recess at school is limited, and after school activities may not always involve something active. And with parents’ “to do list” ever growing, the park is sometimes put on the bottom of the list.

So when my daughter hit the magic age of six, she could join me for exercise. With excitement of using the Total Gym, she pulled cables, jumped and squatted and discovered the varying ways to strength train all while smiling and having fun. While teaching her the Total Gym, I imparted that it is important to respect your body and the machine. Machines are not jungle gyms, but expensive pieces of equipment which too can get injured. Secondly, good technique and posture are important to learn before adding resistance or layering on a more complex movement pattern. This experience led me to talk with the gym about implementing a Total Gym Workout with parents and kids. The following are three important factors I consider when designing this class:

1. Coach- As a parent you are a coach. This means you are a motivator and encourager. The overall intention for both age groups is on creating a healthy lifestyle and attitude toward exercise/movement. For the 6-13 year old category, the emphasis is on form and technique. The 13-18 year old category, the emphasis is also form and technique, and for some may now include greater resistance loads to bring about greater physical changes. As a coach, be mindful of over training or burn out. Thinking outside the box can keep the motivation. For instance, recently we went rock climbing. This new activity requires more flexibility, and the different strength needs led my daughter and I to incorporate more stretching and more upper body strengthening.

2. Form and Technique- Regardless of how old you are, incorporating proper form is key to achieving safe and effective results. Most injuries occurring from weight training are due to poor form and technique, not necessarily excessive weight. For 6-13 year olds, encourage light weight to allow him/her to learn to use the correct muscles with good posture while avoiding momentum. Start to educate the children on muscles being used and why you might want to work them i.e. how they help you with every day movement. For 13-18 year olds, you are still encouraging form but you might also start to educate them on compensation patterns. In this age group, teens may start to exercise more independently, so education on good lifting technique, sets, reps and intensity will help to avoid injury and burn out. See here for more information regarding intensity, sets, reps for power, strength and endurance.

3. Strength Training versus Body Building: When is it safe to strength train? Body build? Unfortunately, there is no magic number. The key lies in understanding the intention behind the resistance training coupled with the child’s growth and maturity level. Does this 13-year-old want to body build so s/he develops more muscular size for a sport/activity, or increase muscle strength, power or endurance or a combination of the above? Research to determine what detrimental changes occur with implementing body building or heavy resistance training at an early age is limited. For children 6-13, I focus on using a percentage of his/her own body weight. The child has to be able to complete a full set with good form before even considering increasing the weight. For teens, weight can be increased above their own body weight as long as form is maintained, and recovery between sessions is attained. In all cases, the parent has to be keen in watching for changes in growth, muscular strains and pain.

Taking the above into consideration, the following is a sample workout. The focus is time under tension for 40 seconds, transition time 20 seconds. This allows the focus to be on technique for those who need it, and those who want to count reps slow or fast will have enough time to complete at least 8 slow or 12-15 faster tempo. The tempo suggestions are to have the first set self-paced, second set slower, third set to be another slow set or possible plyometric.

1. Total Gym Squats – Floor Squats
Total Time for one set of each exercise: 2 minutes
2. Total Gym Pulls Ups Floor Push Ups
Total Time for one set of each exercise: 2 minutes
3. Total Gym Side Lying Squat Floor Lateral lunges
Total Time for one set of each exercise: 2 minutes
4. Total Gym Pullover with head lift + Total Gym pulling arms to the sides with or without a bridge
Floor Toe Taps to Bicycle legs floor with or without biceps
Floor Triceps dip in a reverse plank
Total Time for one set of each exercise: 4 minutes
5. Total Gym Chest Press Floor Rows in a lunge position, progression would be rear fly
Total Time for one set of each exercise: 2 minutes
6. Total Gym Torso Rotation Floor Side Plank
Total Time for one set of each exercise: 2 minutes
7. Total Gym Side by Side
Hip Flexor 30 sec/side
Hamstring 30 sec/side
Inner Thigh – can always add on a shoulder or triceps stretch 30 sec/side
Standing chest (30 seconds)
Standing forward fold (30 seconds)
Total Time 4-5 minutes of stretching

Total Workout time for 1 set – about 20 minutes when you first learn the routines give yourself 30 minutes
Total Workout time 2 sets about 40 minutes
Total Workout time 3 sets about 60 minutes

Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

Elizabeth Leeds, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training, and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.

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