So you’re about to become (or you just have become) a new father; congratulations!
Becoming a new parent means a lot of life changes with less sleep and much less time to do things that you would like to do such as going to the cinema or out for a meal or going to the gym.
If strength and fitness training is important to you don’t despair, just because you are a father doesn’t mean your body has to decline into dad-bod shape. In fact, becoming a parent can mean you get into the best shape of your life because you have to be much more organised and disciplined to get things done.
I am a father of two who has a passion for Crossfit and Powerlifting and has somehow managed to get fitter and stronger since the arrival of my kids. In this article, I will share a few tips which have helped me stay in peak physical condition while also taking on full parental responsibilities.
When working out how best to keep in shape after the arrival of your kids there are many things you need to consider, here are a few of the most important ones:
- Where are you going to train
- How much time can you spare
- If you’re training at home how much noise will you create
Where To Train
Training at a gym is a far bigger commitment than training at home as you have to factor travel time into your time out from parental duties which our partner may not be keen on. If you have to train at the gym then your best option is to go early in the morning or later in the evening when the baby is (mostly) asleep.
A more time-efficient option is to train at home, with no commute necessary and no queuing up for machines your precious time can be better used caring for your new child.
That said the obvious drawbacks of training at home are:
- Lack of equipment
- Cost of buying new equipment
For a powerlifter (like myself) you need equipment, lifting piles of whatever junk you find in the garage is never going to be an effective training method so you will have to invest, a lot of stores do offer pay monthly deals to make purchases more affordable, alternatively, places like Gumtree & Craigslist often sell weights at low prices and keep an eye out for any gym closing down sales.
If you manage to get past the equipment drawback then the next problem is distractions that may occur at home with family popping in to ask you to do things, being asked to take care of the baby for a few minutes…before you know it your training time has consisted of a short warm-up and nothing else!
To get around this you need an understanding family, have a word with them, tell them you just need 30-40 minutes of undistracted time, if possible lock the door and get your headphones on so you aren’t disturbed.
Home gym noise levels
Once your home gym is setup and running another important thing you need to consider is noise.
Throwing weights around in your garage will disturb everyone in the house if you don’t take steps to ensure that sound is minimised such as putting down extra thick gym mats and using bumper plates.
Cardio equipment can also be very noisy too, particularly if you have it in an upstairs room. Running machines, rowing machines and the like will all create a lot of vibrations which will transfer through the ceiling joists into the whole house potentially waking your new child.
There are a couple of ways to remedy this first ensure that you use extra thick gym mats and layer them up with rugs to dampen vibrations from travelling into the floor.
Treadmills are one of the worst offenders for vibrations so if you are considering buying one it is worth considering a purpose made extra quiet treadmill (check some out on Soundproof Panda), these are specifically designed to dampen the vibrations that running creates and will make a big difference to how hard and fast you can run without waking or disturbing anyone in your home!
How Much Time Can You Spare
In my past life B.C (before children) it was not unheard of for me to spend up to two hours training my chest and arms from every conceivable angle with every conceivable piece of equipment.
Needless to say children put an end to that type of training, your training has to evolve to be more efficient, making better use of your time.
Changing your training program is a good idea, instead of long warm-ups, 20 minutes on the treadmill and then hundreds of reps have a short movement specific warm-up followed by a high-intensity workout.
What exactly this will look like depends on what type of training you are into but here are three examples:
General Fitness Training
A lot of general fitness routines revolve around using almost every piece of equipment in the gym to get a sweat on.
When it comes to fitness simplicity is your friend, the simpler the routine the easier it is to up the intensity and challenge yourself more.
Try a few Crossfit style routines such as the one below (This workout is called Cindy and is one of the original Crossfit benchmark girl workouts):
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
- 5 Pull-Ups
- 10 Push-Ups
- 15 Press-Ups
…that’s it, 20 minutes of work and you’re done!
Many people feel like the only way to get more out of cardio training is to spend more time doing it. This often isn’t the case.
Set a distance that you want to run (or row or cycle) that is much shorter than your usual distance. For example do a 2km run instead of 5km, because the distance is shorter push yourself to run harder and faster.
Record your time and try and beat it next time, you’ll be surprised how much your fitness can improve with this method compared to plodding slowly on for 30+ minutes!
Strength training is all too often about as many heavy reps as you can get in, with long two hours sessions being routine for some lifters.
When fatherhood came my way I knew I couldn’t do that anymore so I went back to basics and focused on the three main lifts, bench press, the squat and the deadlift.
A quick movement specific warm up then a few sets with light weight before launching into 3 – 5 sets of very challenging work with a rate of perceived exertion or around 8 or 9.
I’d then finish with a couple of sets on some assistance movements and could have a solid strength workout done in less than 40 minutes…and yes I’ve actually got stronger since doing this!
The golden rule when you are short of time to train is that intensity beats volume however be aware that intense training is usually noisier than lower intensity training so make sure you get equipment to dampen vibrations in and around your training area if you are training at home.
We hope you found this article of use and wish you all the best in your quest to keep fit as a new parent.