Strength Training For A New Dad?

Are there any dads on this forum? I’m expecting my first child in November. My son is already keeping me up and he isn’t even born yet.

My wife has broken sleep about 6 out of 7 nights because of pregnancy aches, etc. So this means that I haven’t been getting enough sleep. It will probably be even worse once my son is born.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can still make decent gains strength training even though I will probably not be getting optimal amounts of sleep?

Hey Basement,

I’m sure there’s plenty of dads out there that will respond, but I’ll start off…

I have a 9 y/o and a 2 y/o so we are very busy, as both my wife and I work. Leading up to father hood I was always a morning workout person (5:00), and I still occasionally suck it up and go at that time if I’m doing a longer workout. For the last couple years I’ve been going at lunch time. I’m fortunate enough to have a 1hr lunch (give or take a few minutes) and have a gym less than a mile away. I’ve done Meltdown training and am now doing a workout I’ve designed (with help from T-Mag) with compund lifts. This allows you to get in total body work in a very short amount of time. For instance, my workout on Monday was Hang Clean-Push Press-Overhead Squat 10 X 2 with 30 sec rest, and dips 5 X 5 w/ 30 seconds rest. Throw in a few minutes of abs and you have a great 30 minute routine.

My best advise to you the first months after the birth is to enjoy your family. There will be a lot of times when you’ll just be watching and playing with the kid. You can always do bodyweight stuff. Have fun!!

PS. My two year-old was diagnosed w/ Type 1 Diabetes right before his 2nd birthday. Talk to your doctor about a blood test that can predict if diabetes could be a risk. We got lucky and caught his before he was very sick.

Just train when you have time. Do whole body workouts.

Yeah working out and trying to actually increase strength with a newborn sucks pretty bad. Do a search for Shugart’s “Little Testosterone Sucking Demon” article. It’s all true - every word of it.

I have a 7 year old girl and a 3 week old boy. Before he was born, I thought my workout days would be done. But you may hear people talk about a “baby high.” I think that’s what I’m on because even though my sleep is broken into 1.5 - 2 hr. chunks, I’m doing well during the day. I did have to change my workouts from early mornings 4x / week to going evenings 2x / week and then 2x on weekends. My workouts have also been great - I follow a WSB template, and last night I hit a 3 board BP PR of 375. My advice would be to enjoy your family, but get workouts in when you can too.

My training partner just became a dad. He adjusted both training volume and intensity so when his baby kept him awake he would do half of his routine and didnt use so much weight.

When he could sleep he trained normally.

Ok, lets try again.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy your new child and train what and when you feel like. Training is a marathon, not a sprint- don’t worry too much about your gains.

Before you know it, you can get the kids to train with you and that is the best!

Hi Basement,
Congrats to you and your wife.

I have a 5 month old. He just started to sleep his nights:-)

As far as sleeping goes, it is hard to get a decent night sleep. I’ve found myself going to sleep when he sleeps. Yeah! Even if it’s 6pm and Jeopardy is on (don’t ask). I try to accumulate as many snoozes as possible (they will hopefully add up to something decent like 6:30 hours or so.

As for working out, I found out that keeping a routine is very hard until he/she doesn’t sleep his/her nights.

Dragon and orangutang both posted good advice.

You’ll learn to adapt your w/o with the amount of sleep you get.

Good luck,



Thanks for the advice man. I appreciate it!!

Thanks for telling me about this article. It was good. It was a little scary, but overall it was inspiring.

Thank you all for the advice and the inspiration!!

Do you think contrast showers and or sled dragging would be helpful for recovery?

[quote]basementD wrote:
Thank you all for the advice and the inspiration!!

Do you think contrast showers and or sled dragging would be helpful for recovery? [/quote]

Sled dragging for sure. Read “Drag your butt into shape”, if you haven’t already.

I don’t know about contrast showers, I’ll stick with a nice hot one…

Hey guys!!,

My son is two and a half weeks old and I am still making strength gains.

I am about to end a training cycle, I will take advantage of the downtime by getting some extra rest.

I think protein helps me recover better and lessens the effects of sleep deprivation. This may not be true, but I feel like it is.

Contrast shower’s work…I definitely have to endorse those.

And don’t worry about your strength gains. By the time your son is born your “dad strength” should kick in and you might end up stronger than b4 :stuck_out_tongue:


[quote]Xen Nova wrote:
Contrast shower’s work…I definitely have to endorse those.

And don’t worry about your strength gains. By the time your son is born your “dad strength” should kick in and you might end up stronger than b4 :stuck_out_tongue:


Xen Nova,

Thanks for the encouragement. I have been telling myself that I am going to develop “dad strength”. It is still weird thinking of myself as being a dad.

It is a good feeling though. Thanks.

Any advice for a soon-to-be dad of triplets! I have all but given up to that fact that once they show up, my training life is mostly over for the next year. Not that I’m selfish and chose myself over my kids but I want my kids to be able to look up to me not look “at” me and my fat, weak gut.

Scottish 190,

Wow triplets!! Stay strong bro!! I am still new at this dad thing, but so far I still find time to train. I train at home, so this helps.

I use abbreviated workouts and I workout when I have time, usually in the morning before going to work.

Take an extra day or two of rest if you need it. For example, if you are doing a routine that last 6 weeks, you may now need to complete the routine in 8 weeks instead.

At bare minimum, if you really just don’t have anytime at all, try to lift once every 7-10 days.

I read that you can maintain your strength by liftng your 6-10 rep max once a week or so.

Extra protein seems to help my recovery for workouts. Supplement if you can.

Hey hey,

I have a 7 week old daughter, and I don’t know sleep, either. I also work 2 jobs and am in grad school full time for my DPT degree.

Pray for me.

Seriously though, I have been a personal trainer for four years, so I can always find time to be in the gym.

I’ve found that Power Drive first thing in the morning with a big cup of green tea 30 minutes before eating breakfast makes my life a lot easier. I also use ZMA while keeping a near perfect diet (one has to when sleep is compromised as much as a little bundle of “joy” can bring late at night).

I’ll tell you man, the first week and a half to two weeks were an adjustment period for me. I didn’t work out at all because I was just too goddamned tired all the time.

I’m better now, though. I’ve noticed I need significantly more sleep when the training is at a higher volume and has any eccentric emphasis. Try doing o-lifts at the beginning of the work out, and then choose a movement plane (i.e. horizontal push pull for rows and bench) and go heavy with low volume. I haven’t gained really much size, but strength (amazingly)has improved with limited sleep.

In relation to your recovery questions, yes, contrast showers do work well. If you can abuse your gym’s showers, take up two and jump from one to the other (You’ll get some absolutely INCREDIBLE looks from perople). Sled dragging also helps. I’ve put a tire and 3 different sledgehammer sizes in my backyard to facilitate recovery and get some cardio in.

A major portion of my recovery has been power drive. Taking that 90 minutes post workout is great. Mix that on the REALLY bad days when I just worked out, didn’t get any sleep the night before and need to function fully to understand what’s going on in class, I’ve had great luck with piracetam and / or phosphatidyl serine with the Power Drive. It can get expenive, but I have found my ways. Lemme know if I can be any help to ya brotha.

God speed!

I realize this is an old thread, but I’ve written a couple of articles/blog posts on training for new dads and “Dad Strength”: