Fighting the Dad Bod

As someone who used to train more than 5 times a week with a mixture of intensive martial arts classes, weight training and medium to long distance road runs; I had no idea the impact that fatherhood would have on my training regime. Of course lots of people had told me what was to come (sleepless nights, no free time and the dreaded ‘dad bod’) but I never took it on board, that may happen to other people, but not to me I remember thinking.

I’m still no stranger to the gym, it’s just a lot less frequent. Some of my most intensive weekly training sessions now include carrying a two year old that refuses to sit in a trolley around the supermarket and crawling through soft play centres. It took me well over a year to adjust to my change of lifestyle and create a training schedule that could fight the onset of the dad bod for now.


The biggest challenge is food, I love to eat. This was never an issue pre-fatherhood as I trained so much that eating had next to no effect on my waist line. For the first six months of being a Dad my training was non-existent, yet I was just as hungry as when I was burning thousands of calories per week. Being painfully tired throughout the day often led me to crave anything sweet and nine times out of ten I gave in and ate.

A few months of denial later I realised that there was actually nothing wrong with our washing machine or dryer and that it was my expanding waistline that was the reason for my jeans being a bit too snug.

I decided to cut my calorie intake, after some research I decided to replace a carb heavy breakfast with a NutriBullet. The most appealing choice was the ‘Skinny Blast’ I made some minor alterations for my own taste (an orange, celery, carrot, apple, spinach, kale and mineral water). The first few days were hard, I remember staring at the clock so I could be ready to eat my lunch at precisely 12 noon, not a second later. After a week I noticed quite a few changes, I had more energy, my waist line had reduced pretty significantly for such a short period of time and a number of people mentioned that I generally looked better.

I haven’t kept up with the NutriBullet breakfast as religiously as when I started, however I’ll have this 3-4 times a week to replace a more traditional breakfast of cereal, toast and coffee. I calculated that this can save me between 1,500 – 2,000 calories per week.

The Workout Routine

When it comes to working out I have an added challenge, my fiancé is a midwife who works shifts lasting 14 hours with a mixture of days, nights and weekends. Keeping to a set regime or being able to go to a specific class each week is impossible so I have come up with a mixture of home workouts and gym sessions.

Every morning before breakfast I’ll do 100 push ups (2 sets of 50 reps, this was 4 sets of 25 when I first got back into being active) and two minutes of plank. I noticed straight away that this had real benefits, most importantly it woke me up and curbed my appetite.

Running an online retail business I’m mostly sat behind a desk during office hours. At lunch time I now do 200 squats before eating, broken into sets with reps of either 50 or 100. Again this curbs my appetite before eating lunch, gives me a boost midway through the day and perhaps most importantly gets my blood flowing after being sat down for around 3 hours.

Evening workouts vary dramatically. I tend to get home between 5-6pm and I want to see my little girl, give her a bath and put her to bed after being away from her all day. Although I look forward to this whilst at the office, it can become a challenge that only a parent can truly understand. Refusing to get into pyjamas, not wanting to have teeth brushed, the list goes on.

Reading a night time story is lovely and creates a close bond, reading the same three children’s books every night for six months could break a weaker person. Then comes the incredibly tense moment of putting her into bed, inevitably followed by consistent requests for a drink of water. Between 7.45 – 8.30pm I’ll be back downstairs and all I want from life is to sit down, eat and enjoy a bit of quiet time. In my fight against the ‘dad bod’ I have come up with the following relatively quick and effective evening workouts:

    • Shaun T – I used to be a massive fan of the Insanity workout and have completed the programme countless times, however a workout of between 45mins to an hour is just too time consuming at this time of night. Shaun T and the team at BeachBody have brought out T25, a variation of Insanity which can be completed in 25 minutes. If you’re like the old me who used to laugh at the thought of doing a home workout DVD give Insanity or T25 a try, they’re the real deal.
  • HIIT training – My old one hour road run has been replaced by HIIT training which can be completed in around 10 minutes. I’ll sprint as fast as I can for approximately 100 metres and then walk as a recovery for 20 seconds and repeat. When total effort is put into this, it is exhausting and really burns fat.
  • Gym sessions – I’ll do this once or twice a week depending on what’s going on at home. The majority of the time it’s a weekly visit so I make the most of my time by lifting ‘heavy’ weights. I’ll get in bench press, bicep curls, shoulder press and lat pull downs. Not ideal but it’s my only chance to do this type of workout so I make sure these are my priority to hit the major muscle groups (I avoid deadlifts and heavy squats due to an old back injury).

My Frame of Mind

When I became a Dad I decided I wanted to see my daughter more than I wanted a six pack. Although it can be very frustrating at times not hitting the gym after a hard day at the office I soon realised that in twenty years time I’d rather have memories of seeing my little one grow up. Training is still a hugely important part of my life as it has more benefits than I could list, so if any Dad’s reading have any advice or tips please leave a comment below on what has worked for you.

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