Parenting is a physical job in the first few years, and it's easy to let our bodies go. The process can be gradual. You sacrifice a little time here, then a little there. Soon you don't have any time allotted for you, and keeping in shape; but now that the baby has arrived, it's more important than ever.
While it's certainly hard to find the all the time you need to do everything when you have a young child, a little pre-season planning can help ensure you will always have an arsenal of simple exercises, programs, and tools at hand to stay ready for those high energy sessions with the youngsters.
One of the simplest exercise goodies you can purchase is a nice heavy medicine ball. Choose one which feels moderately heavy as you will be performing high repetitions with it. I'm partial to the Everlast leather medicine balls, which are great for throwing with a partner. These are also ideal for long warmups to get your blood flowing and tone your muscles.
The Everlast comes in 6, 9, and 12 pound sizes, and the smooth leather feels much nicer than the rubber exterior or basketball rubber of a Danskin or Valeo medicine ball. However, you don't want to slam the Everlast balls, not on the ground or against a wall. They'll split eventually. I still have the evidence.
There are dozens of fantastic exercise tools, like Clubbells, which I talk a little bit about in "Serious Strength and Conditioning with Clubbells." These are very versatile and effective tools taking up minimal space.
However, for this article, I'm going to outline a nice medicine ball workout to warm up your body and condition it for hauling a baby or a young toddler all day.
Using a medicine ball with a weight you can feel, perform the following circuit for 3 or more rounds of 10-20 repetitions each. Move slowly until you are warm:
-Woodchoppers: Hold ball with both hands in front of you, legs in wide stance; raise ball as high as possible over head with straight arms; 'chop' down keeping arms straight and activating core from below your navel. Let motion carry through your legs, and come back up with a straight back and arms.
-Snatch Squat: With this exercise, hold the ball in both hands and start from a squat. From the floor, snatch the ball overhead and drop into a full squat. With the ball still locked out with straight arms, rise up. Work at keeping your arms straight and your shoulders back. Your back should be arched and not rounded.
(For proper snatch form, see the video below.)
-Juke Push Throw with Lunge: Holding tightly to the ball with two hands, push it out in front of you as though you were going to throw it, but hold on to it. The harder you 'throw' it out, the more muscle it takes to pull it back. Repeat this process while dropping into a lung as you step to the right, center, and left. Lunge to the front if you wish, alternating legs.
This is a great workout, and if you have a partner, you can do:
-Overhead and Push Throws: Standing a few feet apart, alternate between throwing the ball from the straight arms overhead position, to the push throw coming from chest level. You'd be surprised what a great workout this can be, especially if your partner has some strength behind their throw.
Check out the video below to see how to drop into a snatch squat properly. Even though he's lifting a 300 pound barbell, the concept is the same.
For some great deals on medicine balls, check out the links below. You'll never regret having a couple medicine balls in the house, they even get to be fun for the kids later on!
Just remember to prepare. If the equipment is already there, jumping into an informal workout is easy. You can even take a set of cables or the TRX trainer to the park with the kids. Put the medicine ball in the backpack and burn some extra calories walking around. Pull it out at the park while junior is rolling around in the grass; but whatever you choose to do, get in the best shape you can before the baby, and never fail to stay healthy and strong.