The Tired Dad Workout

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Kids. Kids are the reason we are here today. Kids that defy the human physiologic need for sleep at normal hours. 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? When was the last time we had a meal that didn’t involve feeding and cleaning another human being? Can you even remember having a conversation in the last 6 months that lasted longer than 5 minutes before you were asked for more food, a hand to the bathroom/changing table, someone (other than the two of you) spontaneously crying, or screaming, or jumping on your crotch with the force and suddenness of a ninja?

You’ve got issues, man. I’ve got issues. 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?-game.

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 the way you do breathing oxygen 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 adapted to sedentism 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? Sign-up for an online training program? Download an app that tracks your steps and HR and eat accordingly? Slow down, macho man.

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:

  1. 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 macro-nutrients (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 sauteed spinach, for good measure. Eggs, meat, even lentils 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 on 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.

Start by watching the videos we posted on our YouTube Channel (you haven’t been on the Restore/Thrive YouTube Channel? Get on it, son!) about the Bracing Sequence (what you do before you bend down to pick up the weight) and Deadlifting technique (how to pick up the weight). Once you’ve mastered these two basics, you’re ready to start swinging. Here’s how:

Spread you feet about shoulder width apart. Hinge forward from your hips, shoving your knees out, keeping your abs braced, back flat, and keeping your shoulders back. Let your weight shift back into your heels without letting your toes come off the ground as the weight swings between your legs.

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Pushing hard through the ground with your feet, simultaneously straighten your knees and squeeze your butt hard, letting the weight swing forward.

Let the Kettlebell (or heavy object of your choice-dumbbell, weight plate, medicine ball, you get the idea) continue to swing forward until your arms reach shoulder level. At this moment (arms even or slightly above level with the chest) the weight should feel temporarily weightless. This is your opportunity to make sure your abs are still on, your spine is in a good position, your shoulders are set, and you’re ready to hinge forward into your next rep.

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Don’t do this:

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(You’re not a turtle, stop acting like one)

Or this:

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(We call this “The Stripper Fault”. Set a better example for your children).

Perform this exercise for 5 minutes consecutively, two non-consecutive days per-week. You should be breathing hard during and after you’re done. If you’re not, what we’re you doing for the last five minutes?

Will you turn into Mr. Universe in 8 weeks with this program? Probably not.

You will kick start your metabolism, build some work capacity (the ability to move well for extended periods of time) 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!


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