Fitness for Dads: How to Exercise When the Baby First Arrives

If you’re a dad starting to exercise when your baby first arrives, this article can help. This is the perfect time for new dads to get up and do something *productive* about their health!

The “dad workout with baby” is a blog post about how to exercise when the baby first arrives. The author of the blog provides advice on how to get started and what equipment is needed. It also includes pictures of different exercises that can be done with your new bundle of joy.

Vintage dad throwing son baby high into air.

Note from the editor: Jon Finkel contributed this guest article.

“You have watch out for number one,” remarked the iconic Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School. But don’t go inside room number two!”

Yes, Dangerfield’s character in the film was famous for armpit farting and doing the Triple Lindy, but he was also a self-made billionaire and the CEO of a huge corporation. He was so concerned about his kid graduating from college that he moved into a dorm on campus (of course, a spruced-up dorm) and enrolled alongside him. The following phrase is the centerpiece of his graduating speech at Grand Lakes University, a fictitious university. He was speaking about entering the real world in his lecture, but the same concept applies to men when they enter parenting.

After spending your whole life as your own “number one,” having a child knocks you down a notch. Keeping an eye on number one now entails keeping an eye on your children. Stress, 3am feedings, 6am feedings, little sleep, no time to exercise, fast food, coffee, sweets, sugar, missing breakfasts, hurried lunches, high fat dinners, energy loss, weight gain, and, finally, a chubbier, slower, fatigued you are the results of not stepping in number two. After becoming a parent, most guys dive straight into a hot pile of the aforementioned. As a consequence, you’re left with a guy you scarcely recognize in the mirror.

You’re exhausted at a time when you should be at your physical prime. What causes this to happen? Because the one thing we took for granted as single guys or as members of a married couple without children for the most of our life is long gone: free time. Your time is no longer free after you have a child. Every second is a financial investment. If your baby is colicky, it will cost you 30 minutes of sleep if it takes you an additional half hour to get her to sleep after her 4 a.m. feeding. If you run out of formula in the morning and have to rush out to acquire more before work, you’ve just wasted 20 minutes at work. If you’re giving your child a bath before night and she poops in the tub, you’ll lose 10 minutes that you might have spent alone with your wife cleaning up. Every second you spend seeking for the new number one, no matter how beautiful, amazing, or enjoyable it may be, is a second you didn’t have to worry about when you were first.

All those seconds build up to a time-stealing conspiracy, forcing you to stop doing things you used to enjoy: reading for pleasure, re-watching The Godfather on HBO on a Tuesday night just because it’s on, and spending Sunday watching football. You no longer do whatever you used to do in your free time since you don’t have any. Unfortunately, one of the above-mentioned sluggish pastimes isn’t always the first item to go. No, the first item to go is the activity you despise the most (but which will benefit you the most): working exercise.


Vintage baby in diaper on hands and feet crawling.

She’s putting her newborn body to the test – and you should, too!

Maybe you lift weights, shoot hoops, run, play racquetball, swim, or ride your bike. Maybe you just run on the treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week. Whatever you used to do, one thing I can guarantee is that after you have a child, you will no longer be able to do anything “naturally.” Having a kid changes your definition of normal. While there are a plethora of publications, blogs, and books for women about pregnancy, fitness, and post-partum activity, there are a shockingly tiny amount of resources for men to learn how to care for themselves after their kid is born. Society has somehow made it normal, even charming, for a guy to gain weight alongside his pregnant wife. Some guys even compete pound for pound with their partners. Men, however, do not have access to the one-day magical weight reduction strategy that women use, known as childbirth.

A woman might be bursting at the seams with a kid one minute and 15 pounds lighter the next. What was formerly referred to as “sympathy weight” among males is now referred to as “being fat.” You’ve officially “let yourself go” if you’ve been obese for a particular period of time. It’s not simple to get yourself back after you’ve “let yourself go.”

To prevent this all-too-common tragedy of parenthood, devise a plan to assist you bridge the gap between your “I’m in excellent condition and ready to have a baby” days and your “My kid sleeps all night and I’m starting to feel like I have my life back” days. This should help you avoid the days when you say to yourself, “I haven’t worked out or slept in three months, I eat like junk, and I’ve gained 15 pounds.”

If you stop and think about it, you do have the time; it’s just lurking in plain sight for all the fathers out there who believe they don’t have time to exercise. It simply takes a minute or two here and there to start the blood flowing with some push-ups, sit-ups, body squats, or anything else. Do you need any examples? It’s no issue. Here are five occasions during your day when you are unknowingly burning a minute or two:

While the water in the shower warms up: It normally takes approximately a half-minute for the water in your shower to reach the desired temperature. Instead of standing there staring at yourself in the mirror, turn on the water and perform a set of push-ups.

While the water in the tub warms up for the infant at night: As a new father, one of the first things you’ll need to realize is that you don’t have to hold the baby every second to prevent it from crying. It’s all right if it sobs for a bit. If you’re getting ready for a bath, you won’t have to hold the baby on your knee. Put her down for some “tummy time” (this normally makes them scream, so you may as well have her work on her upper-body strength while she’s crying), perform a fast set of sit-ups or leg lifts, and then take her up when the water is ready.


Vintage dad outside with son pushups exercise.

Baby bench press is the first bonus exercise.

While warming a bottle: Getting your baby’s bottle to the perfect temperature takes a few minutes, whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night. You’ll have a few minutes while the milk soaks in hot water and heats up if you’re using formula or your wife is pumping and freezing the milk. That’s enough time for a fast set of body squats and an iPhone check of your fantasy football rankings.

While your computer is booting up: I find this one to be very useful in the workplace. Your workplace computer takes around 2-3 minutes to start up and install all of your company’s firewalls and other software. When you initially get at work, switch on your computer, close your door, perform a fast set of push-ups, then open your door and begin your day. If you’re in a cubicle, look for an empty meeting room and do it there. It’ll be strange if you’re caught, but so what?

Vintage men tossing young boy between them.

Tossing a baby medicine ball as a bonus workout

If you’re heating up or defrosting anything in the microwave, odds are you’ll merely pace the kitchen, gaze at the timer, or wander about the house for a few minutes. Do a set of push-ups or squats to make those minutes count.

This is just the top of the iceberg. When you think about it, you can make a calorie burner and muscle builder out of hundreds of ordinary tasks, housework, and even burping your child. Keeping an eye out for number two has just been a lot simpler.

How did you maintain your fitness as a new father? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

How did you maintain your fitness as a new father? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Jon Finkel’s book, The Dadvantage: Remain in Shape on No Sleep, No Time, and No Equipment, is out today for loads of manly advise on how to stay in top shape after you become a parent. Visit for additional information about Jon, The Dadvantage, and his prior work. Jon may be found on Twitter as @3dollarscholar. Jon Finkel has contributed to publications such as GQ, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness,, and the New York Times.



The “how do first time fathers feel” is a question about how new dads feel when their baby arrives. It’s important for fathers to take care of themselves, so they can be there for their children.

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