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A Strength and Conditioning Program for Pre-Season Parenting

Updated on October 8, 2012

Build Muscle and Take Care of a Newborn? Oh Yeah.

I have two children at home now, both of whom have had me as primary caregiver for a couple of years, and like a lot of parents, my stories are often tales dripping with woe over sleepless nights, screaming, crying, and permanent mental and physical exhaustion.

Now, this isn't an article about surviving the parenting years. This is an article with workout suggestions for pre-season parenting. Let's face it, having kids can be a physical job, so why not train properly for it?

Here are a list of exercises translating well to the first parenting year, and beyond. I suggest starting a program a couple of months before you have the newborn in the house, and purchasing equipment which takes up as little space as possible.

On the other hand, if you can fit an entire weight room in your garage, go for it. A word of caution though: You are more likely to commit to a workout during these first months when it requires the least amount of travel to do so. Or the least amount of set up. For example, walking into the garage for a kettlebell circuit for five minutes has a better chance of happening than one where heavy plates need to be loaded, bars set up, etc.

For the purposes of variety and satisfying different workout needs, buy a few of these exercise tools, all highly recommended:


-Medicine ball (3 pound, 5 pound, and one or two heavier. See workout link below.)

-TRX or the Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer.



-Adjustable dumbbells.

-Pull-up bar

-Resistance Cables

This is my personal short list, and I have all of these (ok, actually my jumprope got run over, but it will soon be replaced.) Some I purchased and some I made, but I use all of them at one time or another. I suggest doing several small workouts throughout the week, even when you are feeling so tired you can barely stand,...ok not then, but push past the tiredness a bit and get your exercise.

Example day, beginner to intermediate. Day 1 of five days.

Good mornings, sun salutations, or some form of gentle exercise to warm-up.

Static holds, 10 seconds each, three rounds no rest:

-Push-up position arms locked/Push-up position, bottom hold

-Side plank

-Superman (laying on belly, arms extended in front of you, lift up with your legs and 'fly' like Superman with your arms.)

Then, 3 rounds of:

-Cable pushups x 10-12 (with cable behind back.) alternated with:

-Cable shadow boxing 10 seconds (standing up, of course,) alternated with:

-Pull-ups or suspended rows (depending on your equipment and ability; I also recommend starting with pull-ups and moving to suspended rows if you can't do high reps of pull-ups.)

Rest about 3 minutes then finish with 3 rounds:

Jumprope, fast pace for 30 seconds, alternated with:

Mountain climbers, fast pace for 30 seconds.

Rest no more than 15 seconds between rounds. Count it off and start jumping when you hit 15.

This is a great strength and conditioning program and can be finished in less than 20 minutes. Especially if you are working as hard as you can. Don't discount the effectiveness of a hard twenty minute workout, it might last you a couple of days.

The same 10, 15, 20 minutes can be spent with clubs, kettlebells, or the mace as well, and will produce a heart-pounding workout.

Try this simple workout with kettlebells after your warm-up:

-Horn clean and press: Hold the kettlebell by the horns, clean it and drop to full squat, letting the bell flip over and drop into the squat with you; rise up, and with the bottom up, press the kettlebell. Do this 10 times, then go immediately to:

-Front/side swing: Starting with the normal kettlebell swing, then swinging to the right, then to the left. Front, right, left = 1 repetition. Do 6.

Go through this workout at least three times. These are deep core stength exercises. Your core gets worked through a full range of motion as well as isometrically.

For a quick workout, do 3 rounds of this, or add additional exercises with the kettlebell, then do:

Jumping Squats, Tabata style: 4 minutes of jumping squats, 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

You'll be finished in less than 15 minutes, unless you pass out first.

Besides interval and strength training, which are more anaerobic than aerobic activities, take some time to go for a long walk or run. If you are out with your baby/toddler, go as long as they'll let you.

Neglecting to prepare your body for the physical rigors of taking care of a newborn, or any young child, for that matter, can set up a pattern of neglecting your body early on. Stay in shape, and enjoy this time to the fullest.

Can you keep up??
Can you keep up??


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