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If there’s one thing a guy doesn’t want to hear in the gym, it’s someone telling him he has the dreaded “dad bod.” It means you’re not in terrible shape, but your muscles lack tone and you’ve got enough extra body fat to survive in the Arctic in just a T-shirt. If you’re a guy who’s had this term directed at you, you might have laughed it off. Deep down inside though, it might have pissed you off. Time to shed that bod and get something you can be proud of.
A New Meaning of “Functional Training”
You might be one of those guys who kept up with his training, but put it all aside to have more time with the kids. That’s very noble. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of your physical fitness. Being fit means you can do more as a dad: You can crawl around on the floor with your kids when they’re infants, play in the yard when they’re toddlers, and shoot hoops with them when they’re teenagers. These are some of the best reasons to get back in shape.
Dads Need Both Strength and Endurance
The following workout plan includes a weekly weight training and cardio plan to help you move from where you are now to what may be the best shape you’ve ever been in. The weight training workouts you’ll follow aren’t long, but they’re intense, with lots of supersets and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that’ll help you burn a lot of calories fast.
As long as you keep your rest times to a minimum, these workouts shouldn’t take longer than an hour to complete. So, fit these workouts in anytime—morning, noon, or night. What matters is that you follow the schedule and get all your workouts in.
Dad-Bod Transformer Workout
Day 1: Chest and Shoulders
While it’s a great feeling for the kids to lay their heads on your chest or shoulder, you don’t want them praising how soft you are. This workout, done properly, will start adding some serious tone to your upper body. Consider it a victory when they start asking for a pillow.
Do your HIIT workout on an elliptical machine. Start with 2 minutes at a moderate pace. Then go hard for 30 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 6 rounds. It adds up to just 15 minutes, but it will be all you need if you really push it for those half-minute bursts.
Day 2: Legs
It is essential that you train legs hard—not just so you look good, but so you can move your body with power and efficiency. This leg workout will pound your legs into a pulp to get stronger and improve leg function.
The HIIT portion of the workout will be a 30/30/30 boxing drill on a heavy bag: 30 seconds of jabs, 30 seconds of combination punches, and 30 seconds of all out power. Rest for 90 seconds in between each round. Don’t sit down between rounds, though. Instead, walk around and take deep breaths. Perform 6 rounds of this 18 minutes of “hard-hitting” cardio.
Day 3: Active Rest
Rest, but don’t vegetate. Take your kids to the park or go on a walk for an hour or so. Do something active with them so you can start to enjoy the fruits of your training labor.
Day 4: Back and Abs
It can’t be just about the beach muscles. Getting rid of the dad bod stigma means improving your entire body—including your back. Achieve some width and thickness back there, and you’ll inspire your whole family.
Of course, the abs are important too and need specific attention. As the saying goes, “abs are made in the kitchen,” meaning that you need to lose body fat for your ab muscles to show through. But you still need to train them, so get to it!
Your Day 4 HIIT workout involves the battle rope. You can choose how you wave the rope, but make sure you give it your best effort for 30 seconds. Rest for the same amount of time in between, and repeat as many times as you can in 12 minutes.
Day 5: Arms
Another phrase just as popular as “dad bod” is “sun’s out, guns out.” The flexed arm is considered the standard sign of strength, so we’re going to dedicate one day per week to help you lock and load those guns. You may be tempted to swing heavier weight. Don’t. The best way to grow your arms is to use manageable weight, do slow reps, and focus on the biceps contraction that happens as you lift.
Your cardio for today will be wind sprints, so you have at least a fighting chance of keeping up with the young’uns. After you do a couple warm-up runs, sprint as hard as you can for about 20 seconds. Do this at a local football field or track, at a park, on a sidewalk, or in your own yard—any place you have room to build up some speed. Take about 30 seconds to walk back to the starting position and repeat. You’re finished when you’ve done ten sprints.
Days 6 and 7
Use one of these days as a complete rest day, if you feel it’s necessary. Tell your partner you’ll get to the heavy chores tomorrow. On the next day, do some kind of activity that gets you moving. Just don’t overdo it; doing so will hinder your ability to give next week’s workouts your all.