Workout Tips for New Parents
You just brought a new baby in the world – congratulations you rockstar! Enjoy the sleepless nights and make sure you have a stockpile of diapers nearby. Is it possible that you can workout when you have a new baby?
Of course, you’re worried that this little one may cause a cramp in your workout routine. Or perhaps you’re freaking out that you’ll never see the inside of a gym again. A baby is a huge responsibility so your fears are well understood. But relax- I’m here to tell you that there’s no need to worry. As a father of two beautiful little girls, I can ensure you that you can get in shape and still be a great parent.
As a personal trainer, people have been chomping at the bit to see when I would throw the towel in on my fitness journey. Graduating college, getting engaged and opening my own business were all supposed to break my will. Enter parenthood and a conversation goes like this:
“Hey dude – with two kids, do you really think you should be working out?”
“Are you kidding me? I need to workout more now than ever before!”
I certainly need that strong back as my two year old uses me as jungle gym while I feed our younger infant. Taking care of yourself should be a priority. Now, here’s my catch: the first few weeks when you bring that baby home will be tough. Your will be tested and, just to be straight forward with you, you’re not going to improve upon your fitness. Don’t expect to do cartwheels as you enter the gym. Think of the first one or two months as a maintenance period: you’re keeping your teeth sharp for when the baby sleeps through the night and you can really slam the gas pedal down on your workouts. This is not the time to go run a marathon.
With that being said, here are my 4 workout tips for newborn parents:
- Think Intensity over Duration– While you’d love to spend an hour in the gym, you need to be a little realistic. That little tyke is eating almost every hour. So give yourself intense, but brief workouts. You’re not going to get ripped doing this, but 15-20 minutes of all out training will maintain your conditioning. And provide some stress relief.
A sample circuit would look like this:
A1. Sled Push, 40 meters
A2. Medicine Ball Slam x 15 reps
A3. Jump Rope x 100 skips. 10-15 minutes total
- Cut Your Volume In Half- Volume refers to your overall training load. So if you run 5 miles a day, 4 days a week your weekly volume is 20 miles. In times of life stress- having a baby counts – taking your volume down a notch helps. A lack of sleep means incomplete recovery, so no sense destroying yourself in the gym.
So if you normally run 4 miles, run 2. Do 6 sets of 4 reps? Do 3 sets. Each week you could add a set/half mile as long as your sleep is getting better.
- Most Bang for Your Buck- The more muscle you use, the more beneficial the workout. This is because large muscle groups – like your legs– will cause a higher metabolic burn after the workout is over. We want efficiency here. So that arm and ab workout needs to go. Think lunges over leg extensions and dips over triceps pressdowns.
- Go for High Reps – Between the crying and screaming going on in your house, your nervous system is fried. Strength is dependent on having a fresh nervous system to tap into the muscles you want to train. No sense is completely wrecking your nerves, so 7 sets of 3-5 reps is way out of the question. Think 2 sets of 12-15 reps instead. You’re not going to list a house with this rep range, but that’s not the goal of your workouts. Give a little burn to the muscle and then resume your duty as a parent.
All in all, just take things day by day. If you’re able to get to the gym and break a sweat, count that as a victory for the day. It may not seem like it, but you’re setting a great example for your children. Take these workout tips for new parents and no amount of stinky diapers or spit up will throw you off your game.