Dadbod Experiment 2019

When my wife got pregnant with our second kid I followed the same protocol:  get into the best shape I can before baby gets here.  This proved much harder with a 2-year old and real adult responsibilities.  I was already “in shape” but I wanted to nudge that needle a little further to allow for some drop in my super-human abilities.  (This is what people call sarcasm, for the record.) However, I think I accomplished this goal for the most part.

The difference post D-Day was that I actually had an idea of what to expect this time.  Complete and utter chaos.  We are not Instagram-worthy parents. Not. Even. Close. I had no grand disillusion that I could get through any semblance of a real training program in the early days.

My plan for the initial few days after my son’s arrival was rest; don’t do anything.  I ended up doing the hospital stairs when we had a small stay for phototherapy and mom and baby slept.  I felt I needed to do something after sitting in a chair for 3 days straight but it wasn’t planned and it felt like it was what I needed to do at the time.

I have let a few rules govern training the past few weeks:

  • Have a realistic time commitment in mind

This isn’t the time for a marathon-strength training session. I want to be the hands-on type of dad and that means that there’s going to be less time for myself and training, especially in the beginning.  Even though my wife still does the lion’s share of work with the baby and I’m like a nascar pit mechanic of diapering there still isn’t the time in between for lots of intense training right now.

  • Keep it simple

I want to spend the least amount of time setting up and cleaning up from a workout, now especially.  If I have 30 minutes to squeeze in a workout I don’t want to spend 10 of them setting up barbells and boxes.  My TRX and a pair of powerblocks go a long way at this time.

  • Manage expectations

This applies to individual sessions and over the long term.  With less time available and a lack of quality sleep I’m not expecting to gain much strength over the first few months of my son’s life, and I’m ok with that.  If I can keep my strength levels close to what they are now then I can get back into it easier down the road.  The same goes with my fitness levels.  My goal is to keep my fitness level high enough to remain safe at work and at a level where I can improve quickly later on with a little push when my capacity to recover is improved.

When it comes to each session it takes a little more intuition and flexibility.  By using indicator sets (weights I know I can lift well) I can gauge what kind of session it will be: Get it done, back off or GO.  Most days will be “get it done” and occasionally “back off” but on the odd chance I feel really good and the weights move quickly during the indicator sets then the workout may turn into a “Go” day.  At this time, though, I need to remember that these days may be fewer and there is a good chance “back off” is going to be a common theme, perhaps even for a week or two at a time.  I’m still working on being ok with this.

  • Focus on sleep and recovery

This goes hand-in-hand with #3.  I need to take naps when they’re available.  Sometimes a workout is less important than recharging with a nap in the afternoon on the odd chance both kids are sleeping at the same time. Sometimes “back off” days are important to recharge and avoid under-recovering (notice I didn’t say over-training; let’s be real I’m not over-training).  I usually like to train early in the morning before everyone is awake but currently, unless I won’t have time, I’m choosing to sleep in as much as the kids will let me and I’m making time later in the day.


My Plan

Currently, almost 2 months after my son arrived, my plan looks like this:

Reduced volume while maintaining intensity

I’m using fewer work sets, anywhere from 1 to 3 but still using 80-95%.

Shorter workouts

At most I’m in the gym for 45 minutes for longer lifts, 25 minutes for movement days and only 10-15 minutes for conditioning days.

Olympic lifting

I have got back into Olympic lifting after years of coaching the lifts but not using them much myself.  I’m using it as a gauge and a form of accountability.  To keep improving I msut keep up with my mobility (read: improve it), maintain strength levels and it keeps me honest with warm ups and movement quality.  I don’t know if I’ll stick with them every workout long term but at least at this point they’re serving their purpose well.  It’s been fun re-learning a skill and maintaining some athleticism.

Time limits

I’ve stolen Mike Robertson’s 4×15 template and modified it a bit.  The 4×15 template is four 15 minute time blocks, equalling a 1 hour workout.  The first 15-minute block is a non-negotiable warm up block.  The following blocks are power, strength and energy system work.  You just get as much work done in these time blocks as you can.

I like this because most of us spend far too much time working on strength and neglecting other areas that are equally, if not more important.  This makes you choose what’s important and discard less effective methods and exercises.  There’s no room for fluff in this type of breakdown.

My tweak is that I only do three 15-minute blocks and I move the ESD block to another day because I prefer not to do conditioning and strength during the same workout if possible.

I also tweak this a bit on my movement days.  This day is a low-intensity circuit so I spend 10 minutes warming up and the next 15 is a circuit.  Some days I will do a 5-minute mobility warm up and the first round of the 20 minute circuit will be a lower intensity.


Now that you’ve read over my reasoning as if I’m writing some annoying recipe blog here’s the program.


Day 1: Strength/Power

15 minute warm up, mobility & activation

15 minutes of hang clean progressions & clean pulls

15 minutes of RFESS & weighted push ups


Day 2: Circuit

5-10 minute warm up & mobility

15-20 minute 30s on 10s off of:

Bottoms-up KB walk

TRX row

SB leg curl

DB lateral raise

LM lateral lunge


Day 3: ESD

3 minute warm up

5 rounds :20 sprint, 1:20 off


Day 4: Strength/Power

15 minute warm up, mobility & activation

15 minutes of hang clean progressions & clean pulls

15 minutes of hex bar deadlift & LM Press


Day 5: Circuit

5-10 minute warm up & mobility

15-20 minute 30s on 10s off of:

Briefcase walk

Pull up

3-D band pull apart

SL hip thrust


Day 6: ESD

1 minute on, 1 minute off

RPE 4,5,6,7,8


There you have it.  I might be a bit “softer” than I was before but I’m ok with that right now.  There’s a good chance it’s the ice cream but there’s probably no way to tell.



2 Replies to “Dadbod Experiment 2019”

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