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Your Baby Is Basically A Squirming, Squealing Kettlebell

Your baby is basically a crying, squirming kettle bell.

Becoming a father can often feel like a final bow for your physical fitness. Sympathy weight gain, sleep deprivation, and stress all take their toll. Factor in zero available time to get a run in — much less a decent gym sesh — and you’re unlikely to feel your best. Yet new dads persist, somehow powering through nights of changing diapers and days of office tasks without a total body breakdown. How? Simple: Your baby is basically a crying, squirming kettlebell, and you’re exercising every time you handle him or her.

How do I know this? I spent a week tracking my every step, squat, and baby lift to see what kind of exercises fatherhood asks of me. And, while it’s not a boot camp or Crossfit class, there’s some serious action involved. As it’s useless to tell you what I did, here’s a breakdown of the typical workouts you’re getting as the new dad to an 8-pound bundle. Note that most movements are limited range-of-motion unless otherwise indicated.


12:01 am

The baby’s crying signals it’s time to get out of bed. Time for the diaper change. Lifting him out of his bassinet or co-sleeper is basically a bent-over row. Carrying him to the changing table and lowering him onto and lifting him off the changing pad qualifies as one full bicep curl. Next: feeding. Squat to hand the hungry baby off to his seated mama; squat again to pick him back up. Soothing him takes 15 minutes of constant, high-energy movement including squats, bicep curls, overhead presses, kettlebell-style front swings, lateral lifts (side-to-side swings), and shoulder raises as you gently but firmly jostle the baby, all while dancing and singing along to “Hard Day’s Night” on repeat.

3 am

Repeat diaper-change-handoff-soothing-sequence.

6 am

Now it’s your turn to bottle feed the baby while your partner pumps, so plan for another diaper change and soothing session, but replace the mama handoff squat with a box squat as you carefully lower yourself into a chair with baby in one arm and milk in the other. Standing back up completes the movement.

9 am

Strap baby onto your chest via a carrier in anticipation of getting out of the house. The walk to the coffee shop is a mile round-trip, and wearing him burns an extra 200 calories or so. In addition, you perform a few bodyweight squats to sit and stand back up when you’re at the café. Hopefully, the walk and confinement to the carrier has lulled the baby to sleep so you can put him down (another bent-over row).


Repeat diaper-change-handoff-soothing sequence.

3 pm

Repeat diaper-change-handoff-soothing sequence. Get out of the house. Goblet squat the baby into his 8-pound infant car seat. Then, carry the car seat, suitcase-style (tehnically a one-sided farmer’s walk); switch hands about halfway to your car to ensure you’re not favoring one side. Getting the package into the car seat base is a pretty complex movement that you’re sure builds core strength. At the park, strap the baby to your chest again. Take a 3-mile hike. It gets your heart rate up quickly and keeps it there for the duration. Back at the car, pack the kid in again, lifting the car seat up and out upon arrival at home, and doing the suitcase carry inside.

6 pm

Repeat diaper-change-handoff-soothing sequence.

9 pm


11 pm

Receive a passed screaming baby from your partner while in bed, performing a Russian twist in the process. Try soothing him with 100 standing front press-style lifts. Still crying? Pass him back to your partner, doing one more Russian twist. Pass out.

Day’s Total:

Rows: 15
Squats: 476
Curls: 407
Overhead presses: 400
Swings: 400
Shoulder lifts: 800
Russian twists: 2
Standing presses: 100


Same as Saturday, minus the afternoon hike.


Midnight, 3 am, 6 am: Repeat diaper-change-handoff-soothing sequence.

7 am

Kiss your baby and partner goodbye as you head to work. Discover the 25-pound stroller in the trunk of the car and carry it back inside, suitcase-style.

6 pm

After a day of work, arrive home to a crying baby, exhausted partner, and the third load of laundry this week to take care of. Repeat diaper-change-feeding-soothing sequence. Then, do laundry. While technically not a baby exercise, you’re doing 2-3 times as much laundry as you were BB (before baby), which means additional time lifting and carrying approximately 10-15 pounds each load.

9 pm, 11 pm: Repeat diaper-change-handoff-soothing sequence.

Day’s Total:

Steps (with weight): 400
Rows: 18
Squats: 260
Curls: 255
Overhead presses: 250
Swings: 250
Shoulder lifts: 500
Russian twists: 2
Front Presses: 100


See Monday, minus stroller retrieval and laundry.

Weekly total:

Rows: 105
Squats: 2250
Curls: 2089
Overhead presses: 2050
Swings: 2050
Shoulder lifts: 4100
Russian twists: 14
Bench presses: 700

Now, will this be the same for you? No. But, it goes to show you that, while having an infant takes you away from the gym, it doesn’t mean you’re not getting a workout. In fact, it’s probably more than you’re used to. Because how many free squats and suitcase did you really do before he or she came along?