Kids' Calisthenics Exercises

Boys working out together

Kids need to stay active and participate in physical activity on a regular basis. Exercise keeps kids healthy and helps them maintain their ideal weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control, children should perform 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. Calisthenics or bodyweight exercises are recommended for children under the age of 13. Starting children too early with weight training can hinder their growth; most children aren't at a mature age to execute the exercises properly. Several calisthenics may be performed safely by children to help them improve strength and overall health.


Squats are multi-joint movements that target several muscle groups at the same time. To strengthen the core, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, children should perform one to two sets of 10 to 12 reps. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down -- as if sitting in a chair -- until thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep chest up and make sure the knees stay behind the toes. Hold for one count and return back to the start position.


Pushups target the chest, shoulders, triceps and core. Children should perform pushups on their knees for one to two sets of 10 to 12 reps. Start on hands and knees. Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and out in front of the shoulders. Shift hips forward so the body forms a straight line. Feet can remain rested on the floor or be lifted up behind with ankles crossed. Bring chest to the floor and then push back to start.


Crunches are a safe way to strengthen the core. Lie on the back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross arms across the chest to protect the neck. While gazing up and keeping the neck in a neutral position, lift shoulders off the floor and hold for one count and return to the start position. Perform one to two sets of 12 to 20 reps.

Bench Dips

Bench dips target the triceps and shoulders. Perform one to two sets of 10 to 12 reps using a weight bench, chair or step. Stand in front of a bench, facing away from it. Reach back and place both hands on the bench so that elbows shoot straight back. Arms should be slightly bent. Take a seated position without actually sitting on the bench. Extend legs straight out in front or keep legs bent and feet flat. Dip down midway to the floor. Hold for one count and return to start.

Stationary Lunges

Lunges strengthen and tone the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Perform one to two sets of 10 to 12 reps on each leg. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Place the right foot about 2 feet in front of the body. Keep both feet facing forward and bring the left heel up so that the ball of the foot is supporting the weight. Lunge down until the right thigh is parallel to the floor. The right knee should not extend past the toe. Return to start.