The Swedish Ladder Past and Present

Per Henrik LingThe Swedish Ladder - a frame with horizontal bars, 'en ribbstol' in Swedish, was born in Sweden in the early 1800s. The poet, dramatist and fencing teacher Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) used this wonderful exercise apparatus to develop a system of gymnastics that trains the body harmoniously. In 1813 by order of the king of Sweden Ling founded the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in Stockholm for the training of gymnastic instructors. Later, Ling's son Hjalmar continued the practice and the Swedish ladder, the gymnastics bar and bench gained popularity all over the world, by the same token in Russia. The Swedish ladder is still considered to be the simplest yet most functional exercise apparatus, and is therefore most often used in the home setting. Some of the advantages of the Swedish ladder are its compactness, usability, and safety for all ages.

Role of the Swedish ladder in preparing the child for school.

Few parents know that daily activity at the Swedish Ladder in the child's first years of life not only strengthens muscles and improves immune system resilience, but also stimulates early intellectual development, promoting physical and mental harmony. Most parents consider it their duty to teach their children reading and math in preparation for school. However, sitting still at scholastic activities for long periods of time requires a good deal of physical effort. The fragile muscular corset around your child's spine needs to be strong and prepared in order to survive such early stress. The Swedish Ladder provides the exercise necessary for a healthy spine and is therefore indispensable for the future first grader.

Exercises for Kids

Swedish LadderIf you truly want your child to fall in love with sports and exercise, it is necessary to expose your child to them as early as possible. You cannot force your child to use an exercise apparatus unless he or she really wants to do so. However, the Swedish ladder has nothing to do with this - remember how eager you were to climb ladders as a child.

The Swedish ladder provides excellent physical conditioning for growing kids. Your child overcomes obstacles on the way to the top of the ladder while using all of the muscle groups proportionally, which aids in his or her physical development. The presence of a mat under the Swedish ladder in your home fitness set-up ensures that no fall will break your young athlete's spirit of adventure. Moreover, practicing at home ensures that your child will learn the capabilities of his or her own strength and will learn to skillfully control his or her own movements in order to successfully exercise outdoors.

The Swedish ladder can be useful and fun for kids as well as adults.

What could be simpler than climbing up on a ladder and swinging to your heart's content. In addition, the playground set can be used for a variety of healthy and fun exercises.

The most popular exercise is the pull-up, which is very effective in developing upper back muscles. Alternating the grip during pull-ups can help build large muscles in the back and shoulders. This improves the posture, and harmonizes bodily proportions.

Another exercise that appeals to kids is hanging. Like in pull-ups, performing this exercise effectively requires the addition of a horizontal bar or gymnastic rings. A very small child can simply hang on the rings, or on the ladder's horizontal bar (strengthening the muscles in the palms, hands, shoulders, chest, and back). With time, your child will be able to hang longer and later progress to a more difficult suspension - on one arm, or on two arms with legs drawn up. Of course, such exercises are more physically demanding and yield greater results.

In time, the youngster will want to climb to the top of the ladder all by himself. Help your child accomplish this difficult exercise.

Below is the minimum set of exercises designed for small children. You must accompany your child during these exercises.


The following set of exercises is intended for children ages 2-4.

The starting position for these exercises is facing the ladder:

  • Grasp the horizontal bar with both hands and raise the legs off the floor.
  • Standing on the lowest bar, grasp the bar at chest level with both hands and squat.
  • In the same position - alternate stretching the legs straight back.


The starting position for these exercises is facing away from the ladder:

  • Grasp the overhead bar, place feet on the lowest bar and stretch the body forward ('the curve').
  • Standing on the floor, bend the body backwards while walking the hands lower down the bars.



If the child is older, he or she can perform these exercises (the starting position is standing on the floor sideways to the ladder):

  • Place one foot on the bar at a comfortable level, and without bending the legs, bend the body down towards the outstretched leg (eventually increasing the height of the leg);
  • With one leg stretched out on a bar, squat down on the supporting leg several times;
  • Repeat these exercises on the opposite leg.



The Swedish ladder is also perfect for the child and the adult exercising simultaneously:

  • Hanging from the bar or rings - you can start a family competition, or write down the best hanging times in order to beat the record tomorrow. You will be able to help your child achieve that which seems impossible at first. You will be able to teach him or her to face challenges and be self reliant.
  • Growth exercises - hanging from one arm. It would be great if you could show your child how to do this exercise. They would be so proud of you!


Make sure to always tell your child that he or she did a good job. Tell your child, 'You see, yesterday you couldn't do it, but today you did! And remember when you couldn't even hang until the count of three and today you can hang until 15! You are a champion!'

Furthermore, all these Swedish ladder exercises are effective but they are only suggestions. Your child can invent his or her own fun and unique exercises! Exercises that engage and interest the child are proven to be much more effective.

You can download printable version Exercises for Kids

Exercises for parents

The Swedish ladder can be beneficial not only to the child, but to the parent as well. Here are some useful exercises:

  • Pull-ups on the bar. In modern Swedish ladders there is often a horizontal bar designed for adults.
  • Leg-lifts (bent at first, then straight) up to the stomach while hanging on a bar - strengthen the hands, the abdominals and the muscles over the front ribs, while massaging the organs in the torso.
  • While hanging, try to touch the feet to the buttocks. This exercise is great for the buttocks and the muscles around the hips.
  • At the end of your exercise routine, it is beneficial to hang upside down (if permitted by your doctor). This is a very healthy exercise that protects against stroke and helps regulate circulation in the brain.

You can download printable version Exercises for Parents


In conclusion

Dear parents, remember that a physically strong and healthy child is less susceptible to sickness and stress. Regularly invite your child to engage in active play. Your task - to instill in your child a love of physical activity - is the healthiest habit you can teach your child. We hope that our recommendations and our Swedish ladder will help you become a healthier and happier person!