This past week has been life changing for me. Five years ago in the same week I met my lovely wife for the first time. Two years ago in the same week we brought home Brea, our German shepherd pup that drastically changed how I operated and planned my days. Last year during the same week I was in the hospital for 6 days with an undiagnosed stomach issue.
Now this year: We brought Noah James Over into the world at 1:39 a.m. on April 9th.
So something about the second week in April must be in God’s routine plan for me. Life as we know it can change in an instant and it certainly has for me, which brings me to my topic for today: My early thoughts on balancing the newborn, work, lack of sleep, and trying to fit workouts in.
As a fitness expert you can imagine how flooded with questions I am on the topic of this as soon as people were ready for my opinion.
“Should I work out sleep deprived or am I better off sleeping?”
“What do I do if I can’t do my routine anymore?”
“How often should I work out?”
“How can I eat healthy when I can’t even find the time to get groceries?”
“How in the world do I balance EVERYTHING? My wife, kids, work and training?”
Even though I am new to the game, I tend to have very good insights to people’s thoughts and plans when it comes to training.
So here are a few tips for the dads out there who need some help either getting back into a routine, starting one, or keeping up with one!
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1. Let it go!
By this I mean the attempts to do everything you possibly can for the newborn. It will only drain you and make you more tired, irritable, and frustrated.
At first, I was upset that I couldn’t be the one to feed, nurture and take care of Noah like Megan can. You need to just let it go and do what you can to help your wife. Whether it’s taking care of house chores, grocery shopping, or changing/cleaning the newborn, you must find ways you can help without feeling useless. There is nothing worse than both parents worn out, exhausted, moody and drained. You still must take care of yourself, otherwise the trickling effect can linger into other parts of your marriage.
2. Sleeping Vs. Training
When it comes to this topic, everyone is different. Some function better than others off little to no sleep while others can handle it full steam ahead and still feel like The Hulk in their workouts. You need to listen to your body. This is the simple answer. If you are so tired that you feel unmotivated, have no energy, can’t lift the usual amount of weight and dread trying to get started…..then it’s a sure sign that you need to back off and get sleep.
Look, I am no chump when it comes to this topic. I spent years working in the middle of the night, eating all my meals at night because my body was so out of whack. I burned myself out opening Over-Achieve Fitness because of not sleeping, and when I met Meg, she literally began tying me to the bed so I couldn’t get out all night.
To this day I still believe it saved my life. Sleep is vital for human function. I could list the numerous benefits of sleep but I am not here to lecture you, but rather warn you for the detrimental effect it will have if you don’t listen.
Now, here is where I get into trainer mode….
There is a benefit to still pushing through workouts tired. You may just have to alter what you are doing and how you are doing it.
For example, 90 minute body part splits with nasty finisher will not be in your cards if you are running low on sleep…and for all you “nay-sayers” out there….go for it and after a month let me know how you feel.
You should try short burst, smaller MRT(metabolic resistance training) workouts that get your heart pumping, blood flowing and have you dripping in sweat quick so you can subconsciously tell yourself “I can do this, just 20-25 minutes hard!”
These workouts, quite frankly, seem to be the best for me! They help me go from feeling dead tired to pumped and ready to tackle the day in a short amount of time! Mentally they give you a better relationship with fitness so you don’t dread having to be working out for a long period of time.
Oh, and I must mention that the shorter workouts mean you can get back to helping your wife also!
Another thing to think about is caffeine. I always get asked by hundreds of parents about “what pre-workout” you should take.
Look, everyone in their right mind knows newborn parents will be lacking sleep. What I am hinting at here is that you should not use caffeine to make up for a crappy diet! Instead, you it to fight fatigue and promote recovery.
So that does not mean the 27 energy drinks and coffee will do you any good. Do within reason, and caffeine can be a huge asset to your training plan when dosed properly.
If you want to know more about what the MRT workouts are and how they are run, you can check out my playbook channel here: https://playbook.app.link/mike-over where I showcase many of them as well as great nutritional tips and advice!
You will see some highly effective, short workouts that can be done in five feet of space in the comfort of your own living room. You can even subscribe now free for the first 2 weeks, or even for all you moms out there you can sign up for my *BRAND NEW* spring program by applying to get for it here: https://goo.gl/Pxtj5p.
3. Your Routine
You may have a routine and a scheduled time you like to train. Having a newborn and kids doesn’t mean it has to go away. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have people coming into my office and telling me they “can’t” make the times work to train.
Yes, schedules will change, but you just have to play around them to make it work for you. If that means you get up earlier, nap later….use your lunch breaks….try mini 10-15 minute workouts throughout the day….whatever you find works for you!
I have found that getting up earlier and training first works best for me, as then the rest of the day I can be focused on work and helping/being a dad!
Make sure you schedule your sessions in advance. Remember the key phrase so many of you have heard…”Failing to plan is planning to fail!” This applies to anyone with a newborn or just anyone with goals in general!
I’ll be honest with you, if you try to “find time” you will fail miserably. You have to make time for what is important, and that will be your key to success in reaching your fitness goals!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words being said to me, “Oh boy, Mike, your routine is done and you will not be working out as much.”
But in all reality, I’m getting better and more amazing workouts now than ever!
Life is all about priorities and how you manage your time. If you are good at it, you won’t have a problem making time to train.
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Get the thoughts of training 7 days a week on 3-4 hours a sleep out of your head. You would be kidding yourself and it would go over better trying to win the lottery than have effective training sessions that often. You can’t keep adding volume when your recovery is being compromised. It’s just common sense. The more you fight it, the easier you will burn out and get injured or sick. For most, 3-4 full body workouts will be best and do the job!
You need to be coherent of your goals and realize that maintenance will be your best bet in the given situation. You will not be setting deadlift PR’s and world record intensities with an infant urinating in your face at 3am.
The best part about strength is that it’s easier to maintain, so do a few lifts each week and knocking out a couple singles near 80-90% of your max will do just fine. The rest should be full body metabolic conditioning and some isolation work for weaker areas.
Lets get one thing straight, if you relied on your significant other to cook for you, chances are, that time will come to an end. Between feeding, caring, cleaning, and working, meal time just becomes a mere 4 minutes you get to shove food in before the crying starts back up or your dog barks and wakes the baby up.
This is where preparation comes in handy! Everyday I get my veggies prepared while listening to audiobooks on training during my lunch hour. That way when the chaos around dinner time is here all I have to do is plop in the oven or heat them up.
Stick to the basics. Lean meats, eggs, fruits and veggies. You can make egg dishes in 5 minutes. It’s all about preparing and knowing what you want beforehand so you don’t come home from work hungrier than a hippo without anyone to make dinner and a screaming infant being handed to you.
My go to meal is cooking up 2-3 eggs, searing a piece of tuna and throwing into a bowl of cauliflower rice, mushrooms and peppers I microwaved and topping with avocado. Under 5 minutes and I have a full course balanced meal!
So, remember….YES I am new to the parenting game…but I also have over a decade of training experience so I hope these new found tricks can help some of you in your journeys!
And above all, remember….someone else always has it far worse than you!
Yes, I am talking about the one who birthed your child. So be easy on her. She is the one that is the feeding tube and dealing with surging hormones and body changes that you can’t even begin to imagine. The baby grows under the rectus abdomenus so the muscles of the anterior core are severely overstretched making overhead movements painful and hard. The larger belly from carrying makes their center of mass off balance, displacing it forward and giving many back pain. Then finally the whole process of childbirth leaves them exhausted and puts them into a sleep deprivation mode while breastfeeding. So maybe you do a simple Google search tonight and be the one to cook her dinner!
Mike Over is a physical trainer and owner at Over-Achieve Fitness, 1320 Lincoln Way East 1A, Chambersburg. Follow him on Instagram @mjo_oaf. Read more of The Fit Life here.