Between the 4am feedings and the endless rigmarole of lulling them back to sleep, babies doesn’t leave parents much time for relaxation, much less working out. The good news is that having a baby is a workout in itself, given that all that swaddling and running around trying to find the baby monitor burns quite a few calories. Taking care of a newborn is like running a year-long marathon, and, like any marathon, it takes some training.
So when Joel Snape, the editor-at-large at Men’s Fitness UK, got the happy news that he was going to be a dad, he scoured through the Internet for a workout that would prepare him for the grueling tasks that would soon be set before him. Finding none, he decided to make his own, and named it the “so-you’re-going-to-be-a-dad” workout. Each of the exercises not only trains you for some of the key chores of daddyhood, but helps work up your stamina (because you’re really going to need it). And for more tips on how to be a great father, check out How to Be a Great Dad: Ages 0 to 2.
When you’re holding your newborn in one hand and an Ergobaby sling solo in the other, you realize just how important shoulder flexibility is. To get them ready, take a resistance band, stretch it out wide, and slowly bring it up over your head and behind your back, in 3 sets of 5. If you don’t have a resistance band handy, you can achieve the same effect with a broom or mop handle. Why not do a little sweeping up while you’re at it?
At around 7 months, you start sitting on the floor with your little one, playing with various flashy objects. Once they learn how to crawl, it’s amazing how fast they can go. You look away for a moment and when you look back, there they are scampering towards a sharp corner. To increase your mobility, try sitting in the 90/90 position: Sitting on the ground with your back straight and your chest out, stretch one leg behind you, placing the other one in front of you in a 90 degree bend, the heel of the lead leg lining up with the knee of the back one. Gently rock back and forth to deepen the stretch, then repeat with the other side. It might feel like murder on your muscles at first, but it’ll leave your hip joints ready for anything.
Holding your baby in one arm while using the other to scoop up toys on the floor or pick up the phone is one of the key poses of a new dad, one that requires acrobatic flexibility. To prepare, get into a plank position, then lunge your leg forward as far as you possibly can, pushing your body down once your foot is past your hand, in order to get a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then place your leg back into plank and repeat on the other side. Do 2 sets with 5 on each side.
To train your biceps, pick up a dumbbell and hold it off the ground for 10 seconds, keeping your forearms horizontal, before curling up as usual. Do 4 sets of 8.
When you’re lying on the ground playing airplane with the little one, and suddenly, the phone rings, you need to be able to swoop up onto your feet with the speed of superman. To get your body prepared for this, pick up a kettleball, lie down, lift the ball so that your arm is perpendicular to the ground, and bend the knee for stability, placing the opposite arm at at a 45 degree angle on the ground. Slowly roll up onto your elbow, then your hand, before lifting your hips off the ground. Lift your straight leg and swoop it under you body so that you find yourself in a lunge, then push off the back leg to stand up. The kettleball is raised high up in the air, your arm straight and your elbow locked, throughout the entire movement. Do 3 sets of 4 on each side.
Taking care of an infant involves a whole lot of carrying the little one around in your arms and rocking him gently to sleep. No matter how many pushups you can do, keeping your arms up in this position for hours on end can cause some serious muscle fatigue. To get your arms in shape, try lifting a sandbag and placing it in your arms in the zercher position, aka lying in the crook of your elbows. Walk around the house with it for as long as you can, then rest and do it again for 3 sets.
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