Body Basics: Teaching Kids the Major Muscle Groups

Body Basics: Teaching Kids the Major Muscle Groups
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Kids love the ability to outsmart their parents. When I first learned to count by tens as a child, I couldn’t wait to challenge my mom to a contest to see who could count to 100 faster. Of course, she played along and I reached 100 faster by counting 10, 20, 30…etc. I loved the prospect that I knew more than she did.

In my kids’ fitness classes, I challenge my students to know more muscles than even their parents do. Naturally, the kids jump at the chance to outsmart their folks. My goal behind doing this is simple: Knowledge about your body leads to respecting your body. When you respect your body, you take better care of it. I want to guide my students down that path.

The human body has over 600 muscles. For the purpose of teaching kids, we focus on the ten muscles, or major muscle groups, that encompass the body from head to toe. It’s helpful to use the abbreviated labels for the muscles when applicable since some of the scientific names can be overwhelming for kids. The ten muscles are listed below in descending order. So if you don’t know your deltoids from your gluteus maximus, this column can serve as a tutorial for you, too.


Located in the shoulders, your deltoids are active in lifting a heavy box over your head, or holding your arms out to the side.


Short for pectoralis, your pecs are the muscles in your chest. They’re active during a push-up. When teaching kids, we call these the gorilla muscles. Kids like to pound on their chest while yelling “Pecs,” like the call of the wild.


These are the muscles in the arms that kids typically go to when asked to flex their muscles. I’ve caught many kids rolling up their sleeves and sizing up their biceps during my classes.


The triceps are located on the back of the upper arm. Unlike the biceps, the triceps don’t often get activated in every day life. Therefore, exercises like triceps dips or swimming are necessary to strengthen the triceps.


Short for abdominals, your stomach area muscles are key to core strength. A fun way to help kids notice their abs is to have them pretend to laugh hard. As they fall back on the floor laughing hysterically, have them feel the muscles on their belly tense up.

More Muscle Groups – Page 2

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