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3 Things I've Learned About Training in Fatherhood

During the past 9 months of my son being in our lives so much has changed. Especially in the last 2 months being in the middle of a sudden relocation of our gym, while also being in the middle of a teething baby who just learned how to crawl not allowing us to sleep or take our eyes off him for one second! Training while balancing the responsibilities of fatherhood has taught me valuable lessons and I can now say a new insight on training adults has definitely been unlocked on my end. As a gym owner and a father, my view point on how to treat training has shifted and I wanted to outline the things I have been focusing on to still create results in my own training while still performing my duties as a father. I can confidently say any father who reads this will get something out of it that may relate to your own struggles in training.

1. Less is More: Get the Most out of Each Exercise

One of the key lessons I've learned is the principle of "less is more" when it comes to exercise selection. As a father with limited time and limited recoverability, it's crucial to maximize the effectiveness of each workout. Instead of spreading myself thin with numerous exercises 8-10 in each workout, I have 4-6 exercises total and try to get the absolute most out of each one. Some things I noticed with this is that I had a lot of “junk volume” in my workouts before, these are exercises that I was doing insane amounts of reps and volume with and in hinds’ sight not really getting anything from it other than a good pump feeling in that workout and achy joints the next day. It’s not to say that doesn’t have its time and place and occasionally I may throw that level of volume back in. At a younger age I do think it makes you more durable overall. But in my situation, it wasn’t serving me. Instead I try to get done with my warm up in 10 minute or less and finish my whole training session in an hour or less. This means cut out the fat in your workouts, go straight to what is valuable and important and get the absolute most out of each exercise. This means if you have 4x5 on a squat that’s 4 hard sets of 5. If you have 2 sets on your accessory exercises that’s 2 sets in which it is extremely challenging by the last rep, this is also assuming technical proficiency.

2. Focus on Controllable Factors Outside the Gym

Training extends beyond the gym walls. I've come to realize the significance of examining lifestyle habits that may affect my fitness journey. It's essential to identify behaviors outside of the gym that may hinder progress, such as poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, excessive stress, or sedentary habits. By recognizing these factors, I can make conscious efforts to replace them with healthier behaviors. This is something I’ve always talked about without truly acknowledging what my unhealthy behaviors, as I looked into it I think this is also something that will truly resonate with a lot of fathers out there and even just adults for that matter. Most of my “dietary mistakes” happened when I was tired and hungry or just stressed. Reaching for whatever was convenient and overeating at night. But most of all alcohol consumption. Even just one alcoholic beverage each night or even every other night was detrimental to my results in the gym and general health, I felt like crap and lacked energy to do that things I wanted to do with my family. The little things we do when we’re tired, hungry and stressed can create a cycle of feeling worse, more tired and stressed and in return reaching for the same things that provide temporary comfort and relief only to suffer more later. This does not mean you can’t have these things but one primary change I made was that if I were going to have these things I’m not allowed to have them impulsively and instead I had to plan to have them at least 24 hours in advanced. If I don’t plan to have a drink then I’m not allowed to have it. Making these decisions when you’re not under stress or tired and looking for convenience makes it so you don’t make these “dietary mistakes” as often. Not only that when you plan to do it ahead of time it wasn’t a “mistake” it was a part of the plan! Now you feel less bad or guilty about your eating choices. Little things like these can make all the difference. As a father you will have the cards staked against you when it comes to health, you’re most likely not getting enough sleep and most likely have higher levels of stress than most people. Anything that you can control will start to stack the deck in your favor in the long term.

3. Evolve and Reevaluate Goals

Fatherhood has prompted a shift in my goals and priorities. My focus for years was on achieving maximum strength and building muscle. However, as I embraced fatherhood, my perspective changed. I still want to be strong and build muscle because that’s what I enjoy about the gym but I realized that being there for my children as they grow older is now priority number 1 while maximal strength and hypertrophy are now 2 and 3, still very important to me but not to the degree where #1 gets sacrificed. While Strength gains will help greatly with my #1 goal pushing it to an extent where it’s no longer healthy is possible and something I’ve done in the past often. This realization led me to reevaluate my goals and redefine success in terms of being healthy, energetic, and actively involved in my kids' lives. Setting an example of optimal health and performance as I age has become a driving force for me. It's crucial for fathers to periodically reassess their goals, aligning them with their evolving roles and responsibilities. If you don’t do this you will be stuck measure success in the gym how you’ve always measured it, eventually ending in dropping off because it’s not sustainable. For me that is hitting the heaviest weights possible, while I’m sure I have a lot more in the tank and I still plan to progress how I trained in the past left me with almost nothing left to go be an active dad, what’s the point of being so strong if you can’t run around with your son? For you this might even be going from measuring success in the gym with weight loss or improving your physique to improving you blood markers and hormonal profile. Do you know exactly how healthy you are? When’s the last time you have a blood panel done? Shifting your view to this can have a massive impact on how you feel every day.

When you look at it from a birds eye view training in fatherhood requires adaptability and a mindful approach. As a father and fitness enthusiast, I've learned valuable lessons along the way. Prioritize efficiency, take a good hard honest look at your lifestyle habits, identify your goals and make sure they line up with what you want as a father, you can optimize the training experience while fulfilling your responsibilities. Being a healthy and active father not only benefits oneself but allows you to give more to the people who need you most, when you think you don’t have enough time to do all these remember it’s not a selfish endeavor, and these 3 lessons above can be scaled done as much as you need to get started. Everyone’s training can look different what matters in your moving towards what mattes most to you as a father, don’t get trapped in an all or nothing mentality because that can be the fastest route to failure with your health.

Rick Kompf

Kompf Training Systems

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