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I'm a new father (7 months in), and sometimes struggling to pick up and carry my child (previously trained mostly for marathons, so I'm not blessed with copious upper body strength). As of now, the child weighs 16 pounds.

Since I don't have a gym membership or any free weights lying around, but I do have a convenient 16 pound weight in the form of my child (with the bonus that as she gets heavier, my workout weights will naturally adjust to demand higher load, rather than having to buy heavier dumbbells), will lifting her provide a good, baby-wrangling-specific workout?

How many reps and sets would be recommended? What exercises in particular are suited to lifting a (generally) cooperative baby? I'm not trying to bulk up, just have sufficient strength to be able to deal with the child on a day-to-day basis.

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don't use your baby for exercises! You could work on your technique how you pick your kid up or hold <strike>it</strike> her or him. –  Philipp Sander Feb 6 at 11:21
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3 Answers

I would advise to not use your child for weight resistance training. Who will spot you? How about just play with your kid.

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Do you need a spotter when lifting 16lbs? How do you bring the groceries in? Not all weight training requires you to go to failure. –  Lego Stormtroopr Feb 6 at 22:27
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You do not get my answer at all. –  Dan Andrews Feb 7 at 4:10
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This question might be more suited for the parenting stack exchange, however there are a few things you can try.

First of all, holding and moving a baby (or any deadweight) relies less on raw strength and more on static holds of a load and leg and core strength. Also, this will be one of the more ridiculous things I've written, ever...

Note : Always use slow controlled movements, never go to failure, always have a smile on your face. Hold by the torso or under the arms.

  • Baby presses - Perform a standard military press with your baby, at the peak of the movement, hold the baby at the top for 3-5 seconds and wiggle the baby and make silly faces, return baby to your face, kiss the baby. Thats one rep. Perform in sets of 5-8, until your child gets bored or your arms get tired. Alternatively, lay on the floor and do floor presses.

  • Baby push presses - In a safe area. Standing up, hold the baby at chest level, bend slightly at the knees, hold this position while count down the rocketship from 10 to 1, as you stand-up fire your hips (while saying blast-off) and launch the baby 2-3 inches above your hands.

  • Toddler kettlebell swings - As the child gets older, the push press will become harder, and will morph into a full on kettlebell swing. I did this with my 4 year old niece recently for a half hour and it killed my glutes. Again, countdowns and blast offs are necessary.

There isn't a good book on babies for fitness, but in a pinch there is a highly reviewed book on Amazon that covers using cats for fitness. Not identical, but the principle is the same.

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One caution, is that it is easy to dislocate toddlers arms at the elbow by picking up/swinging them (Nursemaids elbow). –  JohnP Feb 5 at 17:28
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@JohnP Clarified where to hold said baby. Also, this is terribly ridiculous. –  Lego Stormtroopr Feb 5 at 23:04
    
I agree, it's ridiculous. I find it difficult to believe that anyone is weak enough (Absent aging or disease states) that they can't lift 16 lbs with both arms. –  JohnP Feb 6 at 0:08
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Working out using a baby isn't going to get you very strong or in condition or flexible. Human babies don't grow fast enough to be a challenging resistance tool. Also they aren't equipped with good handles. It's a bummer!

I vote for age-appropriate pre-walking/crawling activities, wrestling, and ball games instead. Also, go running with the kid in a jogging stroller. Take long walks with the kid attached, then while they're napping do some kettlebell swings or back squats in the home gym you bought for yourself.

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"they aren't equipped with good handles" - But what about functional fitness? Have fitness blogs lied to me? –  Lego Stormtroopr Feb 6 at 22:28
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