“Strength and growth come only continuous effort and struggle.”
Today we’re going lighten up on the seriousness of subjects and have a little productive fun that involves your kid. But before we start, we’re going to review the story of Milo. No, not the gay Milo that has earned notoriety by triggering SJWs. We’re referring to Milo of Croton, the man of immense strength said to rival that of Hercules.
How did he get such inhuman strength? Simply put, progressive overload. The longer explanation, although not much longer, is quite ingenious. He chose a calf and carried it on his shoulders every day. At first, the weight was fairly light and onlookers laughed and mocked him as he carried his load. “What a silly waste of time” they must have thought. “What does he plan on accomplishing besides becoming the laughingstock of the town?”
Well, as all animals do, the baby calf grew.
And grew until it was a fully grown bull!
That wasn’t the only thing that grew though. As the calf grew into a full-sized bull, Milo’s muscles and strength grew as well. Unlike his neighbors, Milo knew exactly what would happen if he continued to carry increasingly heavier burden around every day. Much like the StrongLifts 5×5 program, the amount of increase per day was so small that the difference day to day was hardly noticeable. However, as days turned to weeks and weeks to months, the difference in weight became impressive. His enormous strength allowed him to win many competitions as well as perform amazing feats of strength, so the story goes.
It is in the vein of thought that we’re going to approach strength training any father can do every night.
No gym membership?
No time to make it to the gym?
No problem! Just use your kids.
An added benefit to being able to work out with an ever increasing -and in the case of multiple kids- varying weights is the ability to play and bond with your kids. Little do they know that you’re working out while they’re having a blast!
Working out using your kids as the weights has some advantages over using weights in the gym. For one, they’re not a hard piece of steel, thus allowing more flexibility in how you pick them up and carry them. Also, during this play time, they will most likely be wiggling and giggling, forcing you to work those stabilizer muscles even harder than you would lifting an inanimate object. If you’ve been lifting a while, you’ll immediately feel a difference even if your kids are lighter than the weights you’re lifting in the gym.
1) Farmer’s Carry: This works best when your kids are still young enough to be carried around in baby carriers and is one exercise nearly all new parents are doing without even thinking about it. This is the exact same as a farmer’s carry that you’d do in the gym except you will be holding the weight further out from your body than you would a dumbbell due to the size of the baby carrier. This is great for your grip strength and traps. I had twins so I got the benefit of working out both arms at the same time whenever we went out.
2) Shoulder Press: This one is pretty simple as well. Simply grab the munchkin under their armpits and lift them above your head. This usually elicits a fit of giggles as they dangle up in the air looking down at you. Make it a game as you lift them up and down until your shoulders are on fire. For those daring dads out there, you can build up some explosive strength by tossing your kid in the air. Now would be a good time however to mention that AKC doesn’t assume any liability if you drop your kid. Do this at your own risk and don’t be an idiot and toss them underneath a ceiling fan.
3) Bicep Curls: This is an excellent opportunity to help strengthen your child’s grip while you strengthen your guns. Have them hook their hands over yours as you pick them up and down using just your biceps. The motion is exactly like a barbell bicep curl. If your kids are taller, just grab them under the armpits instead. I find this a lot harder than curling a barbell.
4) Tricep Extensions: You got to work both sides of the arm after all! I discovered this little doozy wrestling with my kid one day. Again, note the safety concerns as well as if your kids don’t like being upside down, you’ll need to ship this one. Pick your kids up and place them on one of your shoulders. Their stomach should be resting on your shoulder with their head facing behind you. Then grab both their ankles and slide them back behind you with your arms straight up in the air, holding onto their ankles. From there, bend your arms at the elbow and then straighten them back out. Below is a video to illustrate the exercise, minus the kiddo. This should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.
5) Squat Press: This one will burn you out fast. Squat down, grab your little tyke under the armpits, and lift them straight up in the air. For an extra burn, throw them in the air at the top of the squat. As always, be safe. We don’t assume any liability for heads hitting the ceiling.
6) Weighted Pushups: Another simple exercise. Get in the pushup position, have the little munchkin sit on your upper back, between the shoulder blades, and get to work.
7) Chasing and Wrestling (aka Cardio): Whatever you and your kids love doing is fair game. Chase them around the house and let them chase you. Crawl around on the ground. Wrestle. Between the running, crouching, crawling, and wrestling, you’ll be breaking a sweat.
There’s no excuse for being out of shape, even if the obligations that come with fatherhood limit the number of trips you can make to the gym. The dad bod is never acceptable. All it takes is some creativity and discipline.
The biggest thing is keep it light and fun. Don’t be sitting there blandly counting out reps as you’re exercising with your kids. Make it a game. Make funny faces. Be silly. Your kids will be begging for their turn which, if you have multiple kids, you’ll be in for a hell of a workout.
So what fun exercises can you think of? Leave them in the comments section below!