By Dr. Tim Cummings, PT, DPT
Kids are the reason we are here today. Kids that defy the human physiologic need for sleep at night. Newborns that would rather eat than sleep at 3 a.m. (I'm not angry, I've been there, hungry and awake at 3 a.m.-I'm just saying). Kids that act like they were raised outdoors when you take them out in public.
Marriage. Marriage is the other reason we are here today. What in the hell did we do with all the time we had before we had kids? Over the last 6 months have you experienced any of the following:
A conversation with your wife in the presence of your kids that lasted longer than 60 seconds before being interrupted.
Being asked for more food before you sit down to eat.
Had a meal that involved feeding and cleaning another human being.
Redirecting the flow of urine from your infant child from onto your shirt to the nearest wall with your hand.
Spontaneous crying or screaming (from someone other than you or your wife)?
The agony of a direct landing onto your crotch by a small human being with the force and suddenness of a ninja.
If you answered yes to 1 or more of the above questions, you’ve got problems, man. I've got problems. Kid wrangling. Spending time with the person I fell in love with before we decided to threaten our sanity and relationship for the next 18+ years. Providing for the family. Mowing the lawn. Taking out the trash. Doing the dishes. Trying to catch a glimpse of the-is the game still on?
It's not hard to find a reason to shove your physical health to the side until things calm down. But here's the catch: things are not going to calm down. You're not going to recover that pre-kids free time that you took for granted for a long, long time.
And you can't wait another 20 years to get back on the horse of physical fitness because by then your body will be so maladapted that it will actually seem like a better idea to not move than to start moving again. And that's a scary place to be. You don't want to be in that place.
What to do? Join a gym? Hire a trainer? Google search a random workout program? Download an app that tracks your steps and HR and eat accordingly? We’ve got a better idea.
We're all about the M. E. D. here at Restore/Thrive.
What's M. E. D., you ask?
Minimum Effective Dose.
When it comes to improving body composition and building muscle, there are two things to keep in mind:
Protein in the morning
2. Total Body Exercise
On point #1, the main idea here is that if we limit carbohydrate intake upon waking in the morning your body is better able to continue to access fat to meet its metabolic needs. Protein has been found as the most satiating of the three main macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) meaning you'll be satisfied faster and keep that full feeling longer. If you have a lot of weight to lose (more than 20 lbs.) this is the place to start.
Get 30 grams within 30 minutes of waking, making sure to skip the cereal, bread, bagels, pancakes, fruit, and juice. Throw in some green veggies like sautéed spinach, for good measure. Eggs, meat, and even canned sardines are good protein choices to get that 30 grams to get you going.
If you have less than 20 pounds to lose, don't worry about breakfast (yet), rather, let's get to work on maximizing your exercise time and point #2.
I give you, the Kettlebell Swing.
Here's why we like the Kettlebell Swing: it works EVERYTHING. Legs, trunk, arms, coordination, aerobic capacity, flexibility. It is beautifully simple and effective.
Let's do a quick review of the ins and outs of the Kettlebell Swing. It can be devastatingly effective if performed correctly. It can wreck your spine and shoulders if you don't pay attention to what you're doing.
Mastering the Russian Kettlebell Swing
1. Learn how to brace your spine first. If you can’t control your spine position during the swing, you’re going to start hurting sooner rather than later. One of our favorite ways to teach good posture and position is the Dead Bug Home Position Hold. Watch the video and practice this as your warm-up (think 2 to 3 sets of 30-60 second holds):
2. Practice your hip hinge and deadlift mechanics. Your back will thank you. Here’s how to do it:
3. Now put it all together and practice your swing. Details on how to start, continue, and finish well can be found in this video:
Perform this exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, then repeat for 7 more rounds. Do this routine for two non-consecutive days per week. You will start breathing hard within the first minute of this workout and will continue to do so for several minutes after you’re done. If this feels too easy the first time you do it, you either need a heavier weight or a faster pace during your work intervals.
If you’re interested in a more traditional strength and conditioning plan with some more tried and true diet and lifestyle recommendations from a dad that’s been there (3 kids in 5 years will distill out what works and what doesn’t in short order), you can message us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get signed up for a free 14-day trial of our online training programs through the TrainHeroic app.
In 2 weeks, you'll kick start your metabolism, build some work capacity, get stronger, and start to regain some of that fitness you left behind in the maternity department. Maybe you'll even find the courage and strength to lock the kids in the basement and take your wife out on a date. Or at least get better at defending your crotch.
Either way, you win. Good job, Dad!