How Becoming a Father Changed My Training and Nutrition

TAGS: parenting, parent, Kentucky Strong, father, Chase Karnes, training, Nutrition

As I’ve mentioned in my training log, my wife gave birth to our first child on April 1st. Many people told me beforehand that it would be a life changing experience, and it definitely was. But they also said my training and nutrition would go to shit. I was told by most people that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to train at all. The fact of the matter is that I’m doing even more. Everything has gotten better. You see, when somebody tells me that something can’t be achieved or that something is going to take a turn for the worse, they motivate me to be different. It’s not even about proving them wrong, it’s more about not being average. To me, being average is terrifying. I’m not average and will do whatever it takes not to be. I will say, having a son is amazing so far and each day gets even better. I now have more responsibility than I’ve ever had in my whole life. I have a living, breathing, tiny human to take care of and my life has changed drastically. But just how has having a baby changed things?

I’m Training Every Day

When I was holding little man in the hospital on day two of his life, I started thinking about a lot of things, one of which was my health. I consider myself a pretty healthy guy. I eat good, train hard and have done so consistently for over 15 years. But one area I haven’t paid much attention to is my cardiovascular health. In the past, as long as I was conditioned enough to complete my events in strongman and recover fairly quickly, I was fine with it. But now that I have another human who depends on me and who I want to be around to watch grow into a man…well, heart health is pretty damn important. So, I decided to do something every day of the week. It sounds backwards and maybe even crazy, but I’m being physical seven days a week now: training in the gym three days week, adding two low intensity cardio days wearing a weight vest (20-30 minutes), and two high intensity cardio days. This won’t hurt my strength, because I won’t let it. I’m not doing a crazy amount, I’m just putting in some work for 15-30 minutes. Here is what my weekly training looks like:

  • Sunday – Prowler® Sprints
  • Monday – Upper Body
  • Tuesday – Weighted Vest Walk
  • Wednesday – Lower Body
  • Thursday – Prowler® Sprints
  • Friday – Weighted Vest Walks
  • Saturday – Strongman Event Day

I do have an advantage in that our new neighborhood has great place in front of my house to push the Prowler® and a nice long road (with a killer hill) to do my walking. Plus, my wife is getting back to training so we can walk together and, once she’s able, push the Prowler®. Little man just gets to watch for the time being.

CKFather060614

My Gym Training

I am limited on time since I’ve got more responsibilities and the same number of hours in each day. So, the biggest thing for me has been “training economy.” While this term is thrown around a lot, most people don’t actually utilize it. But my situation gives me no other option. I need to maximize my time in the gym and get the most out of every movement I do. This means simplifying my training for the time being with a focus on getting the most “bang for my buck,” so to speak. Everything in my program has to have a purpose and I have a bare minimum each day I’m in the gym. The bare minimum is my main work that has to be done to consider it a training session. For example, log press and pull ups may be my mandatory bare minimums for upper body day but if I have time I’ll throw in curls.

I’m not training for maintenance either, as many have suggested. I’m training to get bigger and stronger. They say it can’t be done. They say just do what you can and maintain for now, but I’m here to prove them wrong. Sure, I’m busy right now with the addition of a baby to my regular workload and life. But does having a one year old next spring make things less busy? What about a five year old? A 10 year old? The way I see it, I’ll be busy for a long time to come. Because there will always be something going on: sport practices, games, school plays, lunch at school, homework, and a million other things that children 0-18 have to do.

So, why maintain? Maintenance is for average people and I’m not average. At the moment, my programming and nutrition is for size and strength. Forget average. Mediocrity is not the example I want to set for my son either.

My Mental Approach

If you’ve read my previous column on the mental side of training/competing, you know how important I think it is. I’ve found it to be even more important now when approaching a training session. When it’s time to train I’ve got to be ready to go. I think about my bare minimums and getting them in regardless of the outcome of that particular session. I start thinking about my lift and what I plan to hit rep/weight/time wise. I can’t control my sleep, but I can control my mind. So, even if I feel like death and am tired, I don’t say it out loud. I tell myself I feel good and ready to train. Then once the weights start moving it’s amazing how things to seem to come around and suddenly I feel pretty good. Sure, I’ve had to drag ass through a couple of sessions, but that’s expected and I’m okay with it. In my mind, at least I’m putting in the work — and consistent work over time is what really adds up.

CKFather060614b

My Nutrition

We’ve all heard it. "It’s impossible to eat right when you have a baby/kid at home.”

I call B.S. Sure, it’s not easy. It takes some thought, time, planning, shopping, and preparation. But it can be done. My current plans are to get bigger and stronger, so that’s what my nutrition reflects. Many people use the excuse that they can’t eat right because it takes too much time to cook their food, but it takes me longer to go out to eat, go pick up fast food or order a pizza than it does to cook at home. How? Because of the wait time. At a restaurant you don’t have to do anything except sit on your butt and wait to be served. Driving to “x” location to pick up some fast food or sitting on your couch waiting on pizza delivery doesn’t require any manual labor but it takes the around same amount of time as preparing your own food would take. So, instead of wasting time sitting on my butt and eating for convenience, I’d rather be in the kitchen cooking food that assists me with my goals. The way I see it, the real reason isn’t as much time as it is laziness. I’m not saying my family won’t eat out, grab fast food, or order pizza on occasion. But when we do, it’s going to be planned. We plan out our meals in advance, so we aren’t left scrambling around trying to decide what to do for dinner and then ending up ordering takeout.

Another change I’ll make is cutting out traditional carb-backloading. I’ve used it in the past and do recommend it for some for weight gain, but now I have a son watching my every move, whether I realize it or not. He’s only a baby at the moment, but he’s growing and developing every day. I don’t want to sit down at night and “binge” on a ton of “junk food” because he won’t understand the science or reasoning’s behind carb-backloading. All he will see is his dad binge eating on a bunch of “junk food” and this is not the example I want him to imitate. I can just imagine telling him at two years old that he can only have a snack after dinner, but grabbing 400 grams of simple carbohydrates at night for myself. That’s not fair and it’s definitely not something I want to be a part of. So while I’ll still be eating most of my carbs at night, I plan on sticking with mostly “cleaner” choices the majority of the time.

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...