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Teacher: Libby Boes who teaches at Frontier Elementary in Brookston, IN. Libby Boes can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Power Pumpers Club

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To focus on health-related fitness component of muscular strength and specifically to motivate students to improve their upper body strength.

Suggested Grade Level: K-8

Materials Needed: Power Pumpers Club bulletin board. Description of push-up levels. Grade level papers for students to place their names when completing levels.

Power Pumpers Club

At the beginning of the school year I put up my Power Pumpers bulletin board. The board includes information about the Power Pumper push-up levels. I challenge each student to get his/her name on the board by the end of the school year. We discuss the current research about our nations youth having less upper body strength than the previous generation.The students must complete ten level 1 push-ups while being observed by me each week. We conclude the warm-up portion of the class with this activity. I check them one group(or Fitness Family in my case) at a time. The remaining students practice their levels while I am evaluating a specific group. Each week I rotate to a different group. If the student can complete all ten correctly (good form), then he/she can place their name on the bulletin board with other Power Pumper members. These students then begin practicing for level 2 push-ups. Again, the students have to be observed by me, perform ten repetitions with correct form in order to place their names on the bulletin board. Upon completion of level 2 push-ups, the students can proceed to level 3 push-ups. Students must complete five level 3 push-ups in order to place their names on the board.

The levels are as follows:

Level 1: 10 traditional toe push-ups ("military" push-ups)
Level 2: 10 triangle push-ups (fore fingers and thumbs touch)
Level 3: 5 one-handed push-ups

Sometimes a student will complete all three levels before the end of the school year. Teachers can require the student to start the levels over again with increased repetitions, or find other more difficult push-up exercises for these students to do.


Modifications for younger students could be made by re-grouping the levels as follows:

Level 1: knee push-ups
Level 2: toe or Military push-ups
Level 3: triangle push-ups
Level 4: one-armed push-ups

Students can be assigned push-up "homework" by practicing their levels at home. Forms can be sent for parents to sign verifying their childs efforts. This does tend to be a struggle for Kindergarten and first graders. A strategy I began recently is to teach the Military push-up by giving the students specific cues. We begin in the "up" position with toes rolled under,this I always demonstrate,hands under shoulders, fingers point straight ahead, body flat (no "mountains") eyes look at the fingers. I teach the kids to lower their bodies slowly to the floor by bending the elbows. I cue them by saying "3-2-1-touch-up" repeat. After one month of school, most of my first graders are ready to do regular push-ups. I ask them to try to do five repetitions.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

To save valuable class time, I check students one group at a time in their "Fitness Families" or squads while the rest of the class practices their push-ups. This is part of their regular warm-up activity so students are observed and checked once a week.
Do push-ups with your classes!

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Decrease the number of repetitions required. Some students may need additional support. I pass some of my Cerebral Palsy students for good arm extension and weight bearing. Accept some variations / modifications of "good" form.

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Posted on PEC: 9/25/2005 and has received 61 votes.

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