Karl Henry: Training at home with a baby
I had a baby last year and haven't been able to train like I used to. Before I became a mother I would train with weights four times a week for an hour or more at a time. Now I don't have that option but I would really like to do something. Ideally, it would take no more than half an hour and I would be able to do it at home with just body weight. Can you help?
It is such a busy time with young children growing up, it will certainly put a big dent into your training time!
The good news is that there are lots of exercises that you can do at home for free just using your body weight. The key to doing bodyweight exercises is changing the range of motion of the exercise to make the exercise harder as you get fitter. This will ensure you get the best results.
As with any exercise programme, you need to ensure that the programme covers every body part.
It can be beneficial to do split routines, but generally I prefer to do workouts that cover the whole body. So a sample programme to do at home would look like this:
* Press ups
* Tricep dips
* Stair runs
With just these six exercises, you are getting a routine that will work the whole body and the lungs too. Aim for three to five sets and 15-20 reps with a gentle warm-up and cool down. This workout combined with a healthy, balanced diet will yield the results you're looking for.
Keeping up with my children
My wife is pregnant again and we have two-year-old twins. I am an older dad and I am worried that I won't be able to run around with the other dads when the time comes for my sons to play football. I reckon I have a year or so to get myself into shape. I don't have a gym membership and money is tight so I was wondering if you have any advice?
Firstly, well done on setting yourself such a good goal and having a reason like that to get fit will ensure that you get the results. You need to look at three ways to improve yourself:
1 Your aerobic health, basically your heart and lungs.
2 Reducing your fat mass and increasing your lean muscle mass.
3 Improving your diet.
By changing these three components, you are getting exactly what the body requires. In terms of how to do it, firstly I would look at your food. Switch to a healthy low GI diet, consisting of brown carbohydrates and reducing your sugar intake, while increasing your water intake.
To improve your aerobic health, you need to get walking. Fast walking of 6.4km/h for an hour will get you working hard. To ensure you're not working too hard, simply ensure that you can hold a conversation at all times but are slightly out of breath. This is the key zone to avail of all the health benefits of fast walking. As it gets easier, aim to walk faster or further. An app like mapmyrun will measure your speed, etc for you.
Then you need to add in resistance exercises to increase your muscle mass and to tone you. Resistance exercises are also fantastic for improving your aerobic fitness too. Free websites like www.rte.ie/ot and apps like Jillian Michaels will give you routines to follow at home.
By combining these three elements, you will be in great shape in a year's time and well able to keep up with your children and the other dads too.