Quick routines, great gains
Babies teach you how to put your own needs to the side. Family logistics only become bigger as they grow. If you managed to keep your sports up in the free hours you had while your baby or toddler was in childcare, that’s great. Few do!
If you're getting into it now, there's great news. Gains show quickly when you go from nothing to something. Was there a particular style of clothing you loved to wear pre-kids? If you miss feeling comfortable in shorts, in tank tops or in jeans that's a neat incentive to keep your new regime up! Whatever strength and conditioning work you do, you’ll feel better all round, it normally helps your cardiovascular fitness too, and your sleep is likely to improve.
The base line
The advantage of a basic circuit-training regime is that you can do it at home if you don’t want to leave your kids unsupervised. Once the drills become familiar, almost automatic to you, you can sneak in quick sessions while you’re watching your kids’ activities. And it's free, all you need is comfortable clothing and the same kind of self-discipline which you proved you had when you raised your kid. You know you can do it!
You can target an area and work on it three times a week to notice quick gains, or you can gun for all-round improved core strength. The latter sets you up for a whole range of sports. A lot of athletic skills you see on TV might look like dexterous legwork or strong arms - a lot of the time it’s the back, chest and stomach doing most of the work. I recommend sit-ups because they require no gear, they build versatile strength for all kinds of activities and in combination with healthy eating they make you feel amazing, quickly. From one week to the next you will be able to do dozens more. Frequency is key - make time three times per week. Now and then try to plank for a short time, you will be motivated by how much longer you can hold out for thanks to your stronger abdomen.
Flexible, effective, low-tech drills
Leg lifts are an easy, complementary drill. You don’t need any gear and you’ll move from 50 to 100 to 150 in a short period of time. Rotate your feet from upright, to left-tilting, to right-tilting to challenge different thigh muscles. As your legs and stomach get stronger, you can move on to planking in its own right. It is a really effective drill for time-pressed parents. Another super-effective short drill is the Joseph’s chair, which happens to be perfect when you want to slip in a little body maintenance in a hectic family schedule. You lower your perfectly straight back against a wall until your thighs are parallel with the ground. It won’t take long until the legs start burning. Repeat this a few times in half an hour.
My money is on posture as the single easiest way to regain your sass. There are great stretches for this. Get familiar with two or three, like chest openers or forward folds. Slip them into your routines to make up for those everyday back killers, like keyboard typing or car driving. It's transformative how great posture makes you look and feel!
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