Struggling to find time to workout? Maybe you struggle with knowing what to do exactly when you do go to the gym? Being a parent is an absolute blessing, there is no doubt about that. But, it’s no secret that once you become a parent, everything changes – at least structurally within our lives. The days of being in the gym 1-2+ hours per day and spending hours in the kitchen preparing the perfect meals every day becomes unrealistic, especially as you have a newborn crying at all hours of the night and/or a toddler screaming at your hip throughout the day!
I personally speak with dozens of parents every week that put off their own goals, mainly health-related, in an attempt to maintain some sort of sanity within their lives and “buy back” some of their time. Can I be honest with you for a second? As a coach that works 1 on 1 with hundreds of parents every year, trying to “buy back” some of your time by sacrificing your personal health goals will only lead to greater problems down the road for a multitude of reasons.
Some of those being, when we lose focus on our personal health, that’s typically when we run to the comfort foods when we face stressful times – which will happen frequently with a newborn and/or toddler running around testing our patience. We also run the risk of seeing a decline in our own health from a physical standpoint (lack of activity and aesthetic appearance) and physiological standpoint (low energy, poor sex drive, moodiness, depression, and more).
How Frequently Should I Workout?
For general wellness, the American Heart Association recommends a little over 2 hours worth of aerobic activity at a moderate pace or 75 minutes worth of intense aerobic activity each week mixed in with 2 full-body resistance training routines. Depending upon time availability, this may seem like a lot but in reality, if resistance training routines are structured to include aerobic activity, this can save a lot of time.
There is no beating around the bush with this one. The frequency of your workouts is completely dependent upon your goals, lifestyle commitments, health condition, and more. The general rule of thumb that I like to follow with my clients is, if you’re a beginner, starting with 2 full-body resistance training routines each week mixed with a daily step goal of 7k is more than enough to begin seeing aesthetic and overall wellness improvements. Why 7k steps specifically? Well, a recent study has shown mortality rates dramatically decrease for those that achieve 7k steps daily or more. Plus, for most adults that have sedentary jobs nowadays, being up and moving around frequently throughout the day (especially outside) has shown to add a lot of value to our health in terms of lower depression rates and better mental health.
What Exercises Should I Do?
One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make when they do have time to go to the gym is they will either spend that entire time on a piece of cardio equipment that they are familiar with – treadmill or bike – or if they do perform some sort of weight training, they will stick to the circuit machines or perform accessory exercises they are familiar with – bicep curls, crunches, planks, leg extensions, calf raises, dip machine, etc.
None of these exercises are particularly “bad” as they all require movement and muscle usage which is crucial for burning calories, however, they don’t provide you the biggest “bang for your buck.” As parents that are limited on time, for the most part, we have to master where we spend our precious minutes. This is where compound exercises come into play. Compound, meaning multiple muscle groups. So, regardless if you have time for a 20-minute workout or a 90-minute workout, these are the most beneficial exercises you should put your focus on…
Squats & Lunges
Hip Hinges (Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts, and Glute Bridges)
Bench Press & Push-Ups
Rows & Pull-Ups
Disclaimer: if you aren’t familiar with how to perform these technical movements, please book a consultation with our team to ensure you perform these exercises safely.
How Many Reps and Sets Should I Perform?
Since we are specifically speaking to busy parents with the assumption that they are simply seeking aesthetic improvements while maximizing their overall quality of life, the answer to this is simple…all of them. This isn’t meant to be funny (okay, it slightly is) but all too frequently people believe in this random phrase that gets passed around that to lose weight and be shredded or “toned” we need to do exercises with low weight and high reps. This is completely false. You can technically lose weight and get toned in any rep range regardless if it’s high or low as long as you remain in a caloric deficit.
It’s crucial to do a variety of rep and set ranges to not only work all 3 crucial muscle fibers in the human body (which will get the best results) but to avoid potential plateaus. Here’s the important thing to remember, our bodies adapt to what we are doing. It’s normal. So eventually, if all we do is low weight and high reps, regardless if we change up the exercises or not, our body is going to become familiar with this structure and you’re going to see fewer overall benefits from performing these exercises/routines. This is why with my clients I will typically put them on a
3-8 week training cycle consisting of the following:
High Weight / Low Reps / Long Rest (3-8 weeks)
Moderate Weight / Moderate Reps / Moderate Rest (3-8 weeks)
Low Weight / High Reps / Low Rest (3-8 weeks)
Keep in mind depending on your overall fitness level and time constraints will determine your set ranges but some popular ones you’ll see with the previously mentioned cycles are these:
High Weight / Low Reps / Long Rest (5-8 sets)
Moderate Weight / Moderate Reps / Moderate Rest (3-5 sets)
Low Weight / High Reps / Low Rest (2-3 sets)