Training Tips for the New Dad
Original Article by Eric Cressey (ericcressey.com)
By Alex Burtch, M.S. CSCS
Checking my email this morning I had an interesting article come into my inbox. I subscribe to Eric Cressey, one of the foremost experts in strength and conditioning today. His gym, Cressey Sports Performance has trained thousands of athletes including 99 MLB drafted players (yes his main focus is baseball but he also does all types of sports, powerlifting, bodybuilding, general fitness).
Cressey was writing on tips to the new dad with respect to continuing their training. With my daughter turning 1 month old on Monday, this was an excellent read for me and I dove in straightaway.
Before you go any further, skip on over to his blog and read the article. The rest of my blog will focus on my own training experience as a new dad and reflection on the points presented by Cressey.
Read the article here.
So point #1. Caffeine. I definitely find myself indulging in coffee a little more often. I’m a known caffeine addict but I had progressed down to a large cup a day prior to baby. Now I’m up to a hefty 3 cups yet I still try to manage water intake and usually I stick to a caloric level that matches my training intensity. I try to remember that calories in vs calories out describes weight gain. Personally I believe quality of food reflects quality of life: if you eat garbage, you’ll feel sluggish, heavy, etc even though you may be calorically neutral and not gaining or losing weight. Just my opinion though.
Point #2. Having the job I have allows me to squeeze in a workout during my lunch or before work. Most folks don’t have such flexibility so when I’m getting a workout done at the gym in my apartment complex, I tend to try and find a window where both baby and momma are sleeping. This way I’m not missing out on time with either. Usually this is early mornings or during a late afternoon nap.
Point #3 and #4. Last month Bret Contreras (another strength training guru) wrote an article on the amount of training needed to maintain strength levels. His conclusion based off his own experience along with a 2011 article (Bickel et. al.) was that training once every 5-7 days was enough to maintain strength and muscle mass gains. Combine that with Cressey’s suggestion that 2-3x per week is realistic for the new dad and you find that it’s realistic to maintain your current level at this point in your life.
Brett prescribes absolutely high level intensity during your training sessions while Cressey suggests rotating high intensity with high volume. With my own exercise physiology background, I believe either approach is fine based off personal preference (you want to avoid a burnout with both methods).
Point #5. Condition at home. Well, I don’t condition. So, yeah. The fitness professional inside me says I should. The stubborn mule inside me says “next week”.
Point #6. Outsource help when possible. My mother-in-law has been over to the house in the afternoons to help out my wife while I’m at work. I absolutely love that it gives Amber a break. While my mother-in-law is there she helps clean up and get the apartment in order. When I come home sometimes the pride in me says “she shouldn’t have to do that, I should be able to manage this all”. Instead, I need to think about how awesome a gift this is from her, in that I come home and spend some quality time with my daughter and wife.
Point #7. Simplicity. This is what Bret was speaking on with the “hammer circuit” style training. For me, I get in about 4-8 exercise patterns in a 45 minute window. Typically I focus in on one lift each workout (4-5 sets, low volume, heavy intensity) and it’s a big muscle group one (deadlift, squat, hip thrust, bench press). I spend the other time working 3-4 sets of accessory exercises at 8-10 reps with a moderate intensity so that I can keep rolling. I’ve actually seen my strength levels increase over the last month so I can say this is a pretty effective method of training.
Point #8. Someone has it worse than you. I absolutely agree to this point. I love my wife more every day for the patience and care she exemplified in caring for our daughter and I respect her for 9-10 month journey of pregnancy and childbirth. If a chief concern of my day is worrying about how my legs are feeling during a heavy squat session, life is pretty good.
I hope you all enjoyed Eric’s points as much as I did and maybe I’ll write a follow up article when Adelaide is 6 months old. See how life is going then! For now, thanks,
- Exercise dosing to retain resistance training adaptations in young and older adults. C. Scott Bickel, James M. Cross, Marcas M. Bamman. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 July; 43(7): 1177–1187. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318207c15d