5 Unconventional But Functional Exercises With Your Baby
Latest posts by Rich Thurman MA, CSCS CPT, ONNIT KB Specialist (see all)
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As a new father of a 3 Month old it’s been tough to fit in workouts. My wife and I, being Personal Trainers have to work extra hard to maintain our fitness levels throughout these early stages of our child’s life. We want to lead by example and in order to do this we must practice what we preach. To us, it’s important that our child see us early and often exercising and staying fit. Hopefully we will be role models that will inspire a lifelong positive relationship with our child and future children.
So we have a small space in our room where we figure out creative ways to workout while our 3 month old is asleep. It doesn’t always workout perfectly though and sometimes he wakes up. There are times where he’ll just lay there and watch us.
He seems to enjoy it if he has no other needs at them moment. He’ll smile and laugh while we workout, which is a great sign that he’s already developing a positive relationship with our fitness.
One of the major issues that new parents often have is with poor posture while carrying their child.
Hips often shift, shoulders roll forward and the belly protrudes to compensate for the additional weight.
Early on my wife and I made a conscious effort to try and keep alignment as best we could; Shoulders back and chest up high while bracing the abs.
Over the past few weeks our son has been able to hold his body and head up pretty well and doesn’t jerk and fling his body as much as he used to, so one day while working out I asked him “Do you want to workout with Papa?” He smiled so I took that as a yes.
I figured I could do many of the controlled exercises I normally do with my ONNIT Sandbags and Kettlebells and just replace them with him and here’s what we came up with.
These 5 exercises with your baby are highly functional and useful in everyday life. They also give you a great way to bond with your child while not missing your workout.
I usually use a Sandbag for the Shoulder to Shoulder Press, however a squirmy child will do just fine.
Rest your child on one shoulder and press overhead keeping the shoulders stable and abs engaged. Bring your child down under control to the other shoulder.
Muscles worked: Shoulders, Lats, Back, Core/Abs
Key Points: Be sure to smile and look at your child at the top. And be sure to make interesting sounds as you go up and down. You’ll get lots of laughs and giggles. Talk to your child and tell them “we’re going up” and “we’re coming down”… This exercises is not only good for you, but a cognitive process for your child.
Usually I use a variety of different tools from Clubs, Sandbags and Kettlebells, but a cuddly kid will do the trick.
Hug your child to your chest with both hands; one high and one low. You can alternate which hand is high and which hand is low on different sets. Squeeze the shoulders back to maintain good posture. Hinge forward at the hips, bracing the abdominals with a slight bend in the knees. Push the butt back like you’re pressing it against a wall and keep your back as flat as possible and head in line with the rest of the spine.
Muscles worked: Hips, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Upper Back (postural muscles)
Key Points: Your child may be slightly afraid in this movement. It’s similar to putting them down to sleep. They tend to grab on for security. Reassure your child with your voice and hold them snugly. They trust you and in the end you’re working with them to establish a deeper trust that you will not ever let them fall.
For this exercises I usually like to use the Steel Club, but slightly uncertain child will work.
Take your child in your hands facing away from you. As you squat, pull your Back muscles back to stabilize the shoulder joint and extend the arms forward pushing your child away from you. As you stand up, pull your child in towards your chest.
Muscles worked: Hips, Glutes, Back, Shoulders, Arms, Core.
Key Points: It’s important that you learn to squat properly before attempting this exercise. I always recommend a person learn to move without tools before adding them to their training program. In this case, your tool is your child. Perfect your squat first and foremost and only attempt this once you are confident that you can keep your child safe.
This exercise can be done with a Sandbag or Kettlebell, but a squishy kid will suffice.
Hug your child to your chest with both hands; one high and one low. You can alternate which hand is high and which hand is low on different sets. Squeeze the shoulders back to maintain good posture. Squat straight down while maintaining good erect posture through the back. Stand back up maintaining a good strong, stacked position of the spine.
Muscles worked: Hips, Glutes, Back, Shoulders, Core
Key Points: Same as any squat. Learning to squat properly first before adding your child will be key. Once you can maintain a good form in your squat without your child, add your child to the equation. Only attempt if you are absolutely certain you can maintain good form and posture and keep your child safe.
Usually I’ll use a Kettlebell, Steel Club or Sandbag for this exercise, but a kid who can sit still will do just fine.
Place your child in a seated position on your forearm and bring him/her close to you body. Bring your shoulder blades back and try to maintain a stable, balanced position. Many people will have a hard enough time simply maintaining balanced hips in this position.
The body will want to shift to one side or the other to counter the weight. This is my favorite of all the exercises because it challenges your body across the midline to maintain stability. It is also one hell of an isometric bicep curl… Someone told me that new parents have the best biceps and after 3 months I would have to agree with that statement.
Muscles worked: Hips, Glutes, Back, Shoulders, Arms (Biceps), Core
Key Points: Once again you must be able to squat properly first. Secondly, you must be able to maintain a stable standing position before squatting. Finally, you must make sure your child can hold his or her head up on their own, grabs and can keep their body erect and doesn’t fling themselves.
It’s important that your child can grab because they will naturally grab on to your shirt for security around this age. They understand that they don’t want to fall even though they’ve never fallen before… Well I hope your child has never fallen.
Anyway, your child is growing and learning new things and as they get older you can grown and learn more together. What better way to introduce your child to fitness and health than to have them participate? We have an opportunity to create a blueprint for a lifestyle and everyday our children soak up and absorb ideas and concepts. Parenting doesn’t always have to be about “Do as I say” even though there are times it needs to be this way. Sometimes parenting is about “Do as I do”.
So lets not make any more excuses about our fitness and make our children a part of our fitness success story instead of our fitness decline.
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