Dad bod? "A male body type that is best described as "softly round." It's built upon the theory that once a man has found a mate and fathered a child, he doesn't need to worry about maintaining a sculpted physique." This is an example of something that starts off as a joke but upon further examination, we realize there actually is validity to it. Interestingly enough, the best jokes are the one's based in reality. A laughable, yet frighteningly true assessment of dads, or parents and their complacency.
I never wanted to join the "Dad bod" faction, even though this "less than desirable" physique had somehow became this odd fad and dare I say popular, or the norm? How could this be? How can not taking care of yourself, lack of effort and giving up become desirable and attainable attributes? I think all of the not-yet-dads have heard the comments, "Wait until you have kids" (translation: "You're screwed, your life is over because that's what happened to me") or "Yeah good luck, you won't have any time once they are born." Unfortunately these are some of the dulling comments and negative projections we can succumb to if we are not careful.
I was actually in some of the best shape of my life in the months leading up to and after my son was born last year, and I've kept it going, although extremely challenging at times. The feeling of the unknown, especially with your first child, bringing a life into the world although very, very scary, was also incredibly motivating and thrilling to me. Where it's easy to fold and cave to the pressure and all the new stress, I wanted to really step it up, be the best person and dad I could be for that little guy.
So here are 3 Hacks to ensure you get your workout in and don't feed into that reverse psychology downward spiraling "dad bod" trend:
1. Get Up Early.
I used to train late at night. Then with showering, laundry, eating and being wired from the session and day, answering a few emails or work, I wouldn't get to bed until midnight or much later, then up at 5-6am to work with clients. Brutal, but it worked and it's the life of a bachelor. Now with taking care of my son, feeding and bathing him, getting him to sleep, my wife and I are in bed between 8 and 9pm! We have established a Nighttime Routine, and I love it. If you do the math, getting up at 4am that's still 7-8hrs of sleep! More than enough sleep.
So that's what I do. My day is so crazy, between taking care of my son full-time, training clients, consultations and online client calls, running the business, writing and doing market research and maintaining the house and gym...how am I supposed to have time to workout? Get up early. I get up now before 4am and I have anywhere from an hour to and hour and a half of uninterrupted time to read or meditate, workout and shower. Uninterrupted time. It doesn't exist for me at any other point in the day. No calls, no emails, no fires to tend to...These precious minutes alone, just me and the rest of the world sleeping are sacred, I cherish them.
I know that my wife and son are tucked away sleeping and sound, and there is just a very satisfying and calming feeling about getting up and getting after it before anyone else is. Just look at The Rock's Instagram, no one works harder, is more successful, humble, great father, husband, friend, etc. AND has a tighter or more grueling schedule than that guy, BUT he still gets it in every morning. Early. With all his craziness going on, he calls it his "anchor".
When you have a kid, suddenly you just don't waste time anymore. If you didn't waste time before (I never thought I did) you still somehow further whittle and shave down your list and your true priorities and the things and people that matter come through. Minutes and seconds count. Having a kid gives you laser focus.
2. Shorten Your Workouts
Workout less. Take your 1+hr workout plus your 20 minute pre-workout shake ritual and your 20 minute commute to the gym, then bullshitting with "Big Mike" for another 20 minutes before even getting started, then your 20 minute drive back and you are looking at a 2-3 hour commitment.
Take that routine and throw it out the window. Do more in less time. Workout at home in any allotted time you have or may not have. The other day for example, I had less than 30 minutes before my next client, I was tired, my son, the happiest little guy on the face of the earth, was just wanting me to hold him and be with him...but I still hadn't got my workout in. This was my only window, now or never. So I did 100 wide-grip pull ups in 22 minutes, 20 sets of 5 reps. It was taxing, excruciating and it gave me some of the best lat soreness I've ever had in my life. It had everything to look for in a workout: it was hard and challenging, I got better and benefited from it, built muscle and burned fat, got my heart rate soaring, and it was super fast and efficient.
Over the past year or so I have been experimenting with super-fast workouts, because frankly, that's all the time I have. My workouts are still a huge priority, I just had to re-evaluate and change them. It's never a bad idea to mix-up your current program, avoid becoming stagnant mentally and physically. We have to evolve constantly, and that includes not doing the same workout routine for ten years.
You do not need a gym. Body-weight exercises and basic understanding and control of simple movements goes a long way. I preach this in my Online Personal Training and Coaching Program. Work with what you have, you don't need some $10 cheap membership at a gym you never go to. Another example, I was vacationing down south with my wife and son, no gyms in sight anywhere (which of course made my wife happy, ha). As she was face-timing grandma for 15 minutes I went outside and busted out 100 free squats, 50 walking lunges and 50 crunches, 3x for a total of 300 squats and 150 each lunges and crunches...and I stretched and cooled down after. Grand total time? 21 minutes.
Can you pinch 21 minutes and do you have a capable body? It can be a 10 minute workout or just 5 push-ups. Get that elaborate build-up and traditional "going to the gym" perfect process out of your head. You can do it.
3. Add your kid(s) into your workouts.
I've had the pleasure of thinking up creative ways to ad my son into my workouts. From when he was only a month old using him as a weight for one-arm presses to a couple moths old putting him in the carrier and doing squats and pull-ups as he smiled and laughed away, to now grabbing his ankles and using him as an upside-down weight for overhead triceps extensions as he belly laughs, or just setting him in his pack-n-play and banging out sets in-between making faces and noises with him, just being a dad...it all works!
My son loves being around me in any capacity, and I'm so very fortunate he gets to be with me at work all day. He changes so quickly, from week to week, how he responds and reacts to things, so I have to change and adapt my workouts constantly. Some days it's very challenging to get any type of workout in and I'll settle for banging out as many push-ups as I can while having a staring contest with him through his pack-n-play. Famous Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker and martial artist Bruce Lee have been widely documented as doing insane amounts of push-ups and/or body-weight feats as their only workouts. It works...and it's awesome!
As my son grows older I will have to continually find ways to ad him in, and guess what? He loves it, as do I. Each stage is amazing and incredible in it's own way. It really is true what they say, "you love them more every day". The way his face lights up and he just pauses and watches intently when someone starts moving through reps of an exercise is priceless, especially when it's his dad. If you have more that one kid and at different ages, you'll have to find ways to occupy them or ad them in as you workout.
To sum all this up just think about this next time... Never let your kid(s) be your excuse for not working out and taking care of yourself, let them be your reason FOR working out and taking care of yourself.