Editor’s note: This post is an excerpt from the book The Dadvantage – Stay in Shape on No Sleep, with No Time and No Equipment by
some jerk my friend Jon Finkel. — Joe Donatelli
Babies are light. If they were dumbbells, they’d be those bright pink or pale blue ones that women use in their aerobics classes. They’d be the weights you grab three at a time from the dumbbell rack to move and make room for the heavy metal you’re lifting.
The thing is, if you had to pick up those three pink dumbbells about 40 times a day and hold them on your shoulder or in the crook of your arm for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, they’d suddenly not feel so light. With each lift they’d get progressively heavier, eventually tweaking small, rarely used muscles in your back, shoulders and forearms.
Welcome to the heavy baby phenomenon, where over the course of a day your child seems to turn into an Olympic shot put.
Until babies are old enough and strong enough to push themselves up and roll over, they’re pretty much dead weight in your arms. If you’re a righty, you’ll naturally hold the baby in the clutch of your right arm when you pick it up. What you’ll quickly learn is that you’ll need your free hand, which will be your left, to grab a bottle (formula or beer, up to you), make a sandwich or use the remote control.
If you feel uncoordinated doing these tasks with your left hand, you will most likely switch the baby to your left arm, freeing up your right hand to perform such important work as pouring a glass of orange juice for yourself. Either way, you’re delaying the inevitable, as both arms will eventually fatigue and you’ll position the baby so that its weight is on one of your shoulders. This will cause your lower back to tighten and you’ll switch to the other shoulder and then, eventually, you’ll put the kid down, feeling like you spent the past hour moving a piano up and down a staircase.
This is remarkable because your baby weighs less than 15 pounds. In the gym, 15 pounds might be a decent weight for a warm-up before a set of tricep kickbacks, but putting your kid in a onesie with a reinforced handle sewed into the back to use as a de facto dumbbell could be considered child abuse.
However, if you put your baby in something built to protect it from high-speed accidents and collisions like, say, a car seat, then suddenly lifting your child for a few reps becomes a safety exercise. This brings us to the first isolation exercise in our unconventional workout: car seat curls.
CAR SEAT CURLS
Once you become a parent there are many responsibilities you and your wife will divvy up. One of them will not be the carrying of the car seat. As the man, you will be 99 percent responsible for this.
It’s not so much that the car seat is super heavy (though it is surprisingly heavy) as it’s a giant pain in the ass to maneuver in and out of a car. Even if you have an SUV, mini-van or station wagon—which you probably will once you have a kid—nearly every angle involving the installation or removal of the seat with your child inside puts you in a position to throw out your back.
Take the uneven weight balance of the car seat, plus the hunched position you need to be in to click the seat into the base, plus the weight of the whole contraption, plus the quick jolt of force you need for the seat to “click” in and out, and there’s about nine different parts of the process where you can jack up your spine.
Of course, there are plenty of car seats available that stay permanently in the car, but they have a major drawback. If your baby has colic or is a light sleeper (despite the ‘sleeping like a baby’ lie) you will do anything for that kid to stay asleep if it falls asleep, and one of the places fussy babies actually fall asleep is in the back seat of a moving car. Once you get home, taking the child out of the seat will almost certainly wake her up. With a car seat that detaches, you can gently pick up the seat and carry it into a quiet room in the house and shut the door. If all goes well, you may have bought yourself some precious quiet time in the house. Might be five minutes, might be forty-five minutes. Whatever it is, you will savor it.
If you have a full-time job away from the house, the majority of instances when you’ll be taking the kid in and out of the car will be on the weekend, which is fine, because even in a normal workout week you’d probably only hit biceps once or twice.
In the beginning, your child plus the car seat will weigh in around 20 pounds. In a few months, the whole thing will weigh close to 30 pounds. You aren’t trying to get through these lifts as fast as you can; you want to go nice and steady, bringing the weight up and down while keeping the pressure on your bicep. This will increase the time under tension of the muscle and keep it growing. By the time your kid is 9 months old, you’ll have arms like Rob Gronkowski.
YOUR SCHEDULE: 2 Days a Week / 2 Sets Each Arm to failure each day
TIME: 2 Minutes Per Set