As every lifter who has a job knows, making time to train can be an arduous task, especially if you’re rotating shifts or spending valuable time traveling to and from work. Having kids complicates matters further.

I work a full-time job and a start-up business over the course of a seven-day work week. Essentially, I’m working days, evenings, and weekends as well. I’m responsible for picking up my five year old from kindergarten every day, and my wife and I have a newborn, who is in daycare. After picking up the kids at the end of my 40-hour a week job, I take them both to my training business and from there often run them to my son’s ice hockey practices. Here is how I fit my training around the above daily responsibilities.

I train a conjugate style of training in my basement. I wake at 4:00 a.m. and I’m training by 4:30 a.m. during the week. You see, it simply doesn’t matter what session I’m doing. I have the most energy to put into it before working 10–12 hours and family time takes it out of me. My son has activities on Saturdays and Sundays, so I train early in the morning on weekends as well. Make no mistake, his activities do and always will come first. The way I see it I have roughly 4–5 years of competitive powerlifting left before my daughter has activities that will further impede upon the time I have to train for competing. This doesn’t mean I won’t train. It means the focus of my training will change. Right now, afternoons and weekends belong to my kids. Think about it for a minute. Most of us don’t get paid to lift, and we had our childhood to play sports. This is your kids’ time to grow. Taking away from that time to better your own lifting teaches them a selfish behavior. Simply, it teaches them a “me first” attitude.

As I stated before, I hope to compete for 4–5 more years. I enjoy watching videos of Dave Tate’s kids in the gym with him. My son has been in my basement since he could pick up a broomstick and imitate me and my training partners squatting, benching, and pulling deadlifts. He loves to hang out and train (he now plays with a five-foot aluminum bar), and while that certainly makes training easier, it’s definitely not how he wants to spend his day. My hope is that he learns the value of hard work while watching and training with me. He’s also learned old school Metallica, Rob Zombie, and many others much to his mom’s chagrin. And it looks as if his little sister is going to follow suit.

The values that kids learn from us carry over into school and sports. In addition to giving him time to be a five year old (homework, playtime, etc.), my son takes karate and plays on two ice hockey teams, one roller hockey team, and t-ball. He knows he has to work and practice hard to improve at all of them. Killer instinct is something difficult to teach kids when they’re older. They can have all the talent in the world, but if they can’t finish what they start, what is it worth? The problem with killer instinct is it’s something you can’t drink from a bottle or buy at the store. The good news is it’s also a trait they may learn from spending quality time with you while they’re still impressionable enough to learn from the examples we set as adults.