Building Core Strength: Exercises for Dads to Tackle 'Dad Bod'

Explore core-strengthening exercises that target the specific areas affected by the demands of fatherhood, helping new dads regain and maintain their physique.

FITNESS

Calvin Presley

8 min read

Congratulations on your journey into fatherhood πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¦! Being a young and active dad with a son or daughter is an exciting adventure. However, it's also a time when maintaining your fitness and core strength can take a backseat to late-night feedings and diaper changes. You might have heard of the "dad bod" – a term that refers to the physical changes that can happen to new fathers as they adjust to their new roles. But you don't have to let the dad bod take over. In this guide, we'll explore the importance of core strength for dads and provide a comprehensive set of exercises that will help you maintain or regain your fitness while embracing the joys of fatherhood.

Understanding the Dad Bod

The dad bod is often characterized by a loss of muscle tone and the accumulation of a bit of extra weight around the midsection, resulting in a beer belly 😭. This can happen due to changes in lifestyle, sleep patterns, and the increased demands of parenting. While it's natural for your body to change after becoming a father, it's also essential to stay healthy and active. Building and maintaining core strength can be a game-changer.

Why Core Strength Matters for Dads

Core strength is the foundation of overall fitness πŸ‹οΈβ€β™€οΈ. It's not just about having a flat stomach; it's about having a strong and stable core that supports your body during daily activities, from picking up your baby to playing with her. Here are some reasons why core strength matters for dads:

  • Injury Prevention πŸ™…β€β™‚οΈ: A strong core can help prevent injuries, especially when you're lifting and carrying your baby or bending down frequently.

  • Improved Posture 🧘: Good core strength promotes better posture, which is essential for long hours of baby care and improving your core strength will help you avoid back pain.

  • Enhanced Balance βš–οΈ: Core strength is crucial for balance, allowing you to move gracefully and avoid accidents.

  • More Energy ⚑️: A strong core can increase your overall energy levels, helping you keep up with the demands of parenting.

Exercises to Build Core Strength

Let's dive into a set of core-strengthening exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine. These exercises target various muscle groups within your core to provide comprehensive strength and stability.

1. Planks

How to do it: Get into a push-up position with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position for as long as you can, focusing on keeping your core engaged.

2. Russian Twists

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground. Hold a weight or a household item like a water bottle, and twist your torso to one side, then the other, tapping the item on the ground next to your hip each time.

3. Leg Raises

How to do it: Lie on your back with your hands under your hips or beside you. Lift your legs off the ground, keeping them straight, and then slowly lower them back down without letting them touch the floor.

4. Bicycle Crunches

How to do it: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and bring your right elbow towards your left knee while straightening your right leg. Alternate sides in a pedaling motion.

5. Dead Bug

How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Lower your right arm and left leg towards the ground while keeping your lower back pressed into the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

6. Bird Dog

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg backward while keeping your back straight. Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

7. Superman

How to do it: Lie face down with your arms extended in front of you and your legs straight. Lift your arms and legs off the ground as high as you can, keeping your core engaged. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down.

Exercises to Build Core Strength

Let's dive into a set of core-strengthening exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine. These exercises target various muscle groups within your core to provide comprehensive strength and stability.

1. Planks

How to do it: Get into a push-up position with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position for as long as you can, focusing on keeping your core engaged.

2. Russian Twists

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground. Hold a weight or a household item like a water bottle, and twist your torso to one side, then the other, tapping the item on the ground next to your hip each time.

3. Leg Raises

How to do it: Lie on your back with your hands under your hips or beside you. Lift your legs off the ground, keeping them straight, and then slowly lower them back down without letting them touch the floor.

4. Bicycle Crunches

How to do it: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and bring your right elbow towards your left knee while straightening your right leg. Alternate sides in a pedaling motion.

5. Dead Bug

How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Lower your right arm and left leg towards the ground while keeping your lower back pressed into the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

6. Bird Dog

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg backward while keeping your back straight. Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

7. Superman

How to do it: Lie face down with your arms extended in front of you and your legs straight. Lift your arms and legs off the ground as high as you can, keeping your core engaged. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down.

Here are a couple of core workout videos that are incredibly effective and time efficient.

$9.99

  • Gaiam sliding core discs work to engage and strengthen your core. They are dual-sided for use on both carpet and hard floors and are ideal for home exercise to incorporate into your workout routine.

  • Fitness sliders are reversible for use on both carpet and hardwood floors, so they can be used most anywhere and on-the-go

  • The discs are sold as a pair and have two different materials on either side for both carpet areas and hardwood floors. They are durable and made to withstand daily exercise.

$21.24

  • These durable, yet lightweight exercise yoga mats are extra thick for the additional cushioning your joints need during any yoga or fitness routine

  • Yoga mat features a textured sticky non slip surface for excellent traction and superior grip and a stylish design to keep you motivated and focused

  • NON TOXIC & 6P FREE PVC yoga mat is a healthier choice for you and the planet

Incorporating Core Work into Your Routine

As a busy dad, finding time for exercise can be a challenge, but it's entirely possible with some creativity:

  • Naptime Workouts 😴: Use your baby's naptime as an opportunity to squeeze in a quick core workout. You can do these exercises in your living room or even in your baby's nursery.

  • Family Fitness πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¦: Encourage a healthy lifestyle by involving your baby in your workouts. For example, you can do planks while your baby has tummy time on a mat nearby.

  • Early Mornings or Late Nights πŸŒ…: If your baby has a predictable sleep schedule, consider waking up a bit earlier or working out after your baby goes to bed.

  • Short and Intense Workouts πŸ”₯: You don't need to spend hours at the gym. Short, intense workouts that focus on core strength can be highly effective.

Nutrition and Hydration

Remember that building core strength also involves proper nutrition and hydration. Fuel your body with balanced meals and stay hydrated throughout the day. This will not only support your fitness goals but also give you the energy you need to be an active and engaged dad.

One of the most important macros a lot of people under consume, especially when trying to build muscle, is PROTEIN. Proteins are made up of chemical 'building blocks' called amino acids. Your body uses these amino acids to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes.

The recommended daily amount for protein seems to vary based on who you asked but it's typically between 0.5g to 1g of protein per pound of body weight. For a 180lb guy, that's 90g to 180g and typically 4oz of chicken breast has about 30g of protein. It's honestly not easy to stuff yourself with chickenπŸ—, beefπŸ₯©, or some other protein when you are already busy trying to figure out what to feed your baby.

ON Gold Standard protein powder helps me get the protein intake I need. Each scoop has 24g of high quality protein and I have been using it ever since I started lifting since I was 15. I live for their double rich chocolate 🍫 in some cold milkπŸ₯›.

$37.32

  • Gold Standard 100% Whey - 24g of protein per serving to help build and maintain muscle when taken over time with regular resistance training

  • Banned substance tested and the highest quality control measures so you feel comfortable and confident consuming the product

  • 5.5g of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids (BCAA and 11g of naturally occurring essential amino acids (EAAs) per serving to support muscle recovery

TLDR

Embracing fatherhood is a beautiful and rewarding experience. While the dad bod may be a common phenomenon, it doesn't have to define your journey as a dad. By prioritizing your core strength through regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle, you can stay fit πŸ’ͺ, active πŸƒ, and ready to enjoy every moment with your daughter. Use these core-strengthening exercises as a foundation for your fitness routine, and watch as your overall strength and vitality improve. As a fit and healthy dad, you'll not only be a positive role model for your child πŸ‘Ά but also have the energy and resilience to fully savor the joys of parenthood.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How often should I do core-strengthening exercises?

Aim for at least 2-3 sessions of core exercises per week. These can be included in your regular workout routine.

2. Can I do core exercises every day?

While it's possible to do core exercises daily, it's essential to allow your muscles time to recover. Overtraining can lead to injury. Incorporate core workouts into your weekly routine with rest days in between.

3. What if I have diastasis recti (abdominal separation) after becoming a dad?

If you suspect you have diastasis recti, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional or physical therapist for guidance on safe exercises and recovery.

4. How long should I hold a plank?

Start with holding a plank for as long as you can with proper form. Gradually increase the duration as your core strength improves. Aim for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute per set.

5. Can I do core exercises with my baby around?

Yes, many core exercises can be done safely with your baby nearby. Always ensure your baby is in a secure and supervised environment during your workouts.