When meeting with a parent for the first time and discussing what they are looking for in a fitness program for their son or daughter, two main concerns (besides enjoying exercise) are usually at the forefront, core strength and upper body strength. This tends to be the case because their child typically cannot perform two basic body weight movements that are universally used in PE class, push ups and sit ups.
Many of our clients struggle to do push-ups simply because they cannot keep their body in the proper push-up position. And how can you do a push up if you can't keep your body in the proper position? Simple answer, you can't. The one exercise that we use to develop this ability is the straight arm plank.
We have our clients begin this exercise by starting on their hands in knees (hands directly below their shoulders and arms straight). Then we have them raise up onto their toes and slowly walk their feet back until their back is in a straight line. The number of times that they perform the exercise and the amount of time that they hold the position varies based on their comfort and ability level.
Try doing a few sets of these with your child and let us know how it goes!
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CFNS, is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He is President of the Autism Society of Oregon's Board of Directors and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, as well as by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) as a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Ryan has worked with individuals with special needs since 2007 and has over 10,000 hours of 1:1 instruction working with individuals that have various special needs.