How to Workout to Combat Dad Bod When You Have Limited Free Time

The infamous “dad bod.” It is a term that I hate getting thrown around. In my opinion it almost gives people an excuse to get a little lazy and not hit the gym. Making it normal to have a beer belly. Let’s change the view of dad bods to be a more healthy, muscular and ripped body.

It’s hard to find time to workout as a dad. You could be a stay at home dad and take care of the kids all day. Or maybe you work all day, come home and just want to spend time with family.

Having not enough time is the number one reason most people give for not working out. Dads are certainly part of that majority.

There is a misconception out there that you have to workout for an hour or two at the gym. Otherwise you won’t get results. I’m here to tell you that is a myth and there are various ways to get an intense workout in to to combat the “dad bod.” Let me give some examples.


When you think of cardio what comes to mind? Mind numbing 30-60 minute jogs through the neighborhood? Or worse the treadmill at the gym? When people are looking to lose weight they typically hit the treadmill, press a medium pace and get their jog on. Not only is this time consuming, but it isn’t effective for fat loss and retaining muscle. It can sometimes do the reverse, making you lose muscle and gain a little fat.

Let’s look at a long distance runner. They are what I call skinny fat. Skinny arms with a gut and no muscle tone. Now go look at sprinter? Chiseled and muscular physique. So what should you do? Train more like a sprinter.

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. What you are going to do is combo high intensity exercise with a short low intensity break. Here is an example.

Sprint 30 seconds

Walk/Jog 20 seconds

Sprint 30 seconds

Walk/Jog 20 seconds

Repeat 10-12 times.

This will take around 8-10 minutes. Do you think you can squeeze in a 10 minute workout in your day? I think so! Not only is it more time convenient but it will be a much more effective workout. This will be a much more intense and grueling workout than jogging for 30-60 minutes.

These workouts can be performed with a variety of different exercises/equipment. Here are a couple of ideas;

  • Sprinting
  • Exercise Bike
  • Rower


A tabata is about as time efficient as you can get. You exercise for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this 8 times.

This workout will only take 4 MINUTES!

This may seem like a walk in the park but I can guarantee it is not. Since you are only doing a 4-minute workout you will need to push yourself to the limit and go all out. These are not for the faint of heart. I personally like adding these to the end of a workout but if you are seriously pressed for time you can do one of these as your workout for the day.

Here are some exercises you can do;

  • Kettle Bell Swings
  • Squats
  • Box Jumps
  • Sprints
  • Rower
  • Exercise Bike
  • Push Press

Circuit Training + Supersets

Circuit training allows you squeeze in various different exercises within a short time period. It does this by pairing multiple exercises with no breaks. Here is an examples circuit:

Squats 10 reps

Shoulder Press 10 reps

Rows 10 reps

Curls 10 reps

Tricep Extensions 10 reps

You would do 10 reps of squats and then immediately jump into 10 reps of shoulder press and so on until you finish Tricep extensions. After Tricep extensions you take a 1-2 minute break and then repeat the entire cycle 3-5 times.

Circuits are great for fat loss because it is almost like you are doing cardio with weights. The only downside is that you will not be able to use a lot of weight during your exercise. This means you may not get much strength gains out of it.

A superset is just two exercises paired together to save some time. I like pairing opposite muscle groups. For example:

Bench Press

Barbell Rows

One is a pushing movement and the other is a pulling movement. By doing this, your strength performance does not get affected much. Allowing you to save time and also push a good amount of weight around.

HIT Training

There are a lot of different methods and names for HIT training. Pretty much what you are doing is just 1 working set all out to max failure and then pushing past failure. So instead of doing 3-5 sets, which takes a lot of time, you just do 1. With this set you will go to absolute failure, meaning you cannot perform another rep. After that you have the option for a couple of different techniques.

The one I like most is the drop set (also known as strip set). Here is an example with the Bench Press. Let’s say your max for 10 reps was 185. After you do 185 for 10 you immediately take weight off and perform as many reps as possible. In this case I’d probably drop down to 135. After you complete those you once again drop it again and perform as many possible. In this case I’d recommend around 95 pounds. You can decide to end there or drop it one more time. These sets are brutal but effective.

Since you only do 1 set per exercise you can fit a bunch of exercises within a short time frame.


I can keep rambling on about different ways to save time when working out but I will stop for now. Try out some of those methods and see how you do. Since you will be cutting down the time, make the time count. Push yourself hard and keep off that “dad bod”.

About the author: Nathan Robinson has owned a personal training company called Elev8 OPT for the past 10 years. He has worked with a variety of clientele ranging from athletes, stay at home parents, youth and celebrities. Nathan holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine. Photo by Cyril Saulnier on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *