A bit of moderation – making ‘dad strength’ easy

I recently read a book called Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel. It’s written primarily for strength coaches who train athletes but I found (parts at least) really interesting from a dad-that-likes-to-keep-in-shape perspective.

‘How can that be?’ you may ask. Surely an athlete and the average dad have very litttle in common? And for the most part you would be right.

One of the main principles in the book is that because the sport is an athlete’s priority, there should only be enough strength training to improve it, but not so much that it is too tiring and negatively affects the sport.

So it’s written for an audience that wants to get stronger but need to prioritise as they don’t have a lot of spare energy to recover – sound familiar?

The method of training in the book was a bit of a revelation for me – doing just enough to be effective but not so much that you are left exhausted. I made my best strength progress ever in the (very sleepless!) weeks just after having our third child, while still being left with enough energy to do the really important stuff (the dadding thing).

My main lesson here was that when some things get complex, you need to simplify something else or very quickly the wheels will fall off. For me that meant a focus on a few big items that give a lot back. Perhaps this is obvious to most people but it can be difficult to let go off something you’ve worked hard for – the temptation is to keep going as before and just add to it. But if you’re planning on maintaining a high workload and adding all of the extra joyful, but exhausting, work that a new child brings then some moderation may be a better option.

For me this has way better than the other temptation – to do stop doing it all together – and actually worked well enough to pick up again should life get harder to handle in future. It’s a keeper, and currently a bit of steal on the Amazon (link not affiliated).


Great interview with Ross Enamait

This is good stuff.

If we ever expect to combat the obesity epidemic that exists throughout the world, we need to make exercise more readily available and less confusing. Let’s get more people up and moving with whatever they have available, rather than constantly trying to sell them one overpriced piece of equipment after another.


Training with the seasons

We’re coming into one of my two favourite times of year for training.

I love that time in spring when the cold breaks, being outside running is enjoyable again.
Now is great too. The temperature in my training space has dropped quite a lot which means I’ve gone back to lifting kettlebells for high reps. During to warmer months it gets pretty hot in there and sweaty hands, kettlebells and a tiled floor are not a particularly good combination. Now it’s cooler I can go nuts without fear of smashing up the house.
I’m totally abandoning what I’ve been doing, but just going a couple of sets here and there to maintain where I am.

Being seasonal makes for a nice mix of training throughout the year – outdoor and playful in the warmer months; indoor and focused when it’s colder.

Current training – September 2013

I’m still cycling through lift days, move days and run/swim days, generally two of each a week. This pattern has been working really nicely for a while now and I see no reason to change it.

It’s a nice balance of structure and randomness.

I’m currently doing ring dips and deadlifts for my lifting. I have been following a volume-based approach which is working nicely. I set a timer of twenty minutes and cycle back and forth between the two exercises, staying away from failure, and taking as much rest as I need – you can get a lot done in not much time if you put your mind to it.

Those sessions look like this:

  •  A1: Warm up
  • B1: Turkish get up plus overhead walk – 2 x 1L/1R
  • C1: Deadlift/Ring dip – 20mins = 20-50 reps of each
  • D2: Farmers walk –varied weights & distance
  • E1: Rope climb – as many as possible in 5 minutes

The move days are some combination of bridging, crawls and hand balancing.

The run/swim days are pretty self-explanatory!

GPP for dadding and life

GPP = General Physical Preparedness

For most folks this is all we are training for – we want to be generally physically prepared for life.

I actually prefer the phrase generally physically useful as I think it more closely describes what we’re aiming for. We need to be useful to those around us. It may be old school, but in most families it is the dad that will be expected to lift, carry, chase, rescue and fight if necessary – so we should be able to those things.

I think there are four parts to this:

  • Be strong
  • Move well
  • Don’t get tired
  • Don’t get injured

Be strong
This is number one because it’s number one. It forms the base for every other physical attribute you will look to develop and helps keep you stable and healthy as you age.

Move well
Life is not lived standing or sitting. The real fun is had in the middle, on the floor, under things and over things. That’s where your kids are and that’s where you should be able to get to as well. Be able to get up and down from the floor with your kids all day and climb up a tree to get them down if they are stuck.

Don’t get tired
Your kids don’t so you can’t. A dad should be a superhero to his children. Strength helps us do impressive feats, endurance is the other side – the ability to just keep going.

Don’t get injured
It’s very simple, you are not useful if you are injured. All of the rest is worthless if you damage yourself in training. There is no need to train like you’re in the SAS or preparing for your MMA debut – that is not why you are in the gym. There is no shame in a bit of moderation to keep yourself safe. Don’t wrap yourself in cotton wool but remember that the principle of do no harm applies to you too.

Current training – August 2013

There’s very little point me posting a weekly training plan this month as it would be a lie. I am still doing something most days but my schedule is much more fluid.

Generally my week has the following sessions, but the days I do each thing are changing week to week.

  • Strength x 2
  • Running/swimming x 1-2
  • Movement/mobility stuff x 2

The strength sessions are rotating between periods of high volume kettlebell pressing and low volume deadlifts and higher volume deadlifts with dips/muscle ups. As an example, this is what the last week looked like:

  • Saurday – rest
  • Sunday – weights at home
    • A1: Deadlift – 2 x 5
    • B1: KB clean and press – 4 x 1,2,3
    • B2: Chin up – 4 x 1,2,3
    • C1: Farmers walk
  • Monday – run
  • Tuesday – crawls/stretch
  • Wednesday – weights at home
    • A1: KB clean and press – 3 x 1,2,3
    • A2: Chin up – 3 x 1,2,3
    • B1: Deadlift – 3 x 3
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – random stuff
    • A1: Deadlift – 3 x 3
    • B1: Farmers walk
    • B2: Sandbag carry – bear hug, shoulder
    • C1: Crawls
    • C2: Rope climb

Train hard, play hard – Ross Enamait

Ross Enamait has posted a great piece about training to be an inspiration for your kids.

This is very close to my heart. One of the major reasons I train is to inspire my girls to do the same as they get older.

My choice quotes from Ross are:

“I take pride in having my kids look up to me. My kids think I’m Superman. In their eyes, I can do anything and I’ll do everything to prove them right.”

“If busting my ass in the gym means I can make my kids smile, it’s worth more than words could ever describe. Training hard helps me play hard and that’s something I plan to do for as long as I’m alive.”

You can read the whole thing here: