How to Dodge the Dad Bod: Spartan Pros Share Their Best Father's Day Exercises + Tips for Active Pops

How to Dodge the Dad Bod: Spartan Pros Share Their Best Father's Day Exercises + Tips for Active Pops

Being a good dad nowadays takes mega grit, determination and stamina. A discipline-and-done M.O. just doesn't cut it anymore. With our current global pandemic, major social justice reform on the horizon and upheaval happening across all of our systems—from higher education to wealth distribution—it's now more important than ever to teach your kids how to think, persevere, and stay active to stay sane. Even if they're only four years old and have no idea what's going on (or what kind of world they'll inherit), they look up to you. Big time.

But in order to care for the littles, you have to care for yourself, too. And now, more than ever, it's crucial to up the ante on your dad game to set your kids up for success. We asked three Spartan Pros and passionate fathers how they get it all done—from aggressive, long-distance training workouts to wiping up spilled milk, these guys have it dialed... as much as any parent can. Plus, try these fun Father's Day exercises you can do with your kids to break a sweat and foster some laughs. (And hey, if it means you get to dodge the dad bod in the process... just take it.)

Related: 30 Best Life Lessons Our Dads Ever Taught Us

Father's Day Workouts & Advice on Being a Spartan-Strong Dad

Spartan Pro Jason West

Follow: @baddestcwo Kids: 2 Girls (ages 12 & 2 months), 1 Boy (age 7)

SPARTAN RACE: What's the best part about being an active Spartan dad for you? For your kids?

JASON WEST: I think the best part of being an active dad is that we can always find an excuse to get away from the screens and out into nature. We would all rather be outside in the sun or playing frisbee in the pouring rain than watching TV or playing video games. We also find excuses to travel to amazing places where Spartan holds its races. When I mention we’re going on another adventure to a different state or country, the kids are right there excited about the cool places we get to go.

SR: What's special about this quarantine workout, using your kid as a weight?

JW: Both of my older kids know they’re on call for workouts. My exercises are categorized into vectors (push, pull, etc.) so I’m not limited to specific movements with a bar. When using a child as a weight, they dynamically load your joints because they can’t hold a static position while you throw them around. This ultimately makes you stronger.

SR: What advice do you have for guys trying to be the best, fittest, strongest dads they can be?

JW: In order to be the fittest and strongest dad you can be, the key is to treat all tough situations like an opportunity to grow. Can’t go to the gym? Go outside. Can’t find a pull up bar? Climb a tree. Can’t get to the pool? Go to the lake. Oh, and take the kids with!

SR: What's your favorite takeaway you've learned from parenting and being a pro athlete?

JW: Time is the most precious commodity that we have. It only moves in one direction, and the candle continues to burn no matter what you’re doing. Use every opportunity in your training to simultaneously spend time with the little ones because they won’t be little forever.


Grab a kid (or two!) for extra bodyweight, and GO.

5X reps each

BONUS: Baby Bicep Curls

Spartan Pro Mark Batres

Follow: @mgbracing Kids: 2 Boys (ages 7 & 5)

SPARTAN RACE: What's the best part about being an active Spartan dad? 

MARK BATRES: My kids look up to me kind of like a superhero, and that not only motivates me, but I see the benefits in how they want to lead a healthy life. They see that fitness is fun and they're eager to be active and adventurous.

SR: How do you keep your kids engaged in their own health and fitness routines, and encourage building healthy habits?

MB: We've brought them up around the dialogue that taking care of your body with healthy habits like exercise and eating well, sleeping, etc, is important, so they've had it in their mindset early on that healthy living was part of life. We're fortunate that they're excited about being fit. Right now, they're pumped about getting a six pack, so we're using that to help encourage them to get outside and be active.

SR: So you coach little kids, right? What do you focus on and how does that work? 

MB: I started coaching our local youth running team last year and this has been the first year of "training" for my oldest son, Mark. He typically trains 3-4 times per week. The primary focus is speed development. We do a lot of plyometric drills, and short, fast intervals. From a coaching perspective, young kids should be working on short, fast running to develop neurological pathways for muscle reaction. The idea is to develop a higher top end speed initially vs. aerobic capacity- which you can always develop later. The window for developing pure speed closes as they get older. From a parent's perspective, short, fast intervals are successful because young kids don't have a great attention span, and you really want to make training fun so they are excited about it. So it works with both perspectives in mind.

SR: What's your best advice for other Spartan dads out there? 

MB: From my experience, taking the time to work on your health and fitness—be it 30 minutes a day if that's all you can carve out. It will give you more confidence, energy and stability which will only help you be a better dad, be more present for your family and have a better demeanor overall. It's not an endeavor to feel guilty about because it has a positive outcome for you and your family.


  • 800m warmup
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Plyometric Drills

On a grass field loop about 200m give or take:

  • One loop fast; rest one minute
  • One loop fast; rest 3 minutes

Repeat 3X

800m cool down

Following the workout, play tag, do relays and let the kids be kids! Plus, add in static stretching.

Related: 20,000 Burpees for Father's Day

Spartan Pro Mark Gaudet

Follow: @markgaudet85 Kids: 2 Boys (ages 6 & 3)

SPARTAN RACE: What's the best part about being an active Spartan dad for you? For your kids?

MARK GAUDET: The best part about being an active Spartan dad is sharing my passion for fitness and competition with my boys. I grew up biking alongside my father during his training runs and spent countless weekends at his road races and triathlons. He always included me in the children's races which developed my love for sports and competition. Spartan Race weekends provide family getaway opportunities where I get to make these same memories with my sons. Concurrently, my boys develop toughness and confidence by negotiating their own race courses, learn important lessons that come with victory and defeat, and watch me pursue my personal racing goals. Children watch everything we do so it is important to model the behavior we wish to see in them.  

SR: Do you do this workout routine every night before bed, and why pre-bedtime?

MG: We attempt to do the pre-bedtime routine nightly, unless someone (sometimes me) falls asleep. We defaulted to pre-bedtime because it fit into our more regimented nighttime schedule. The routine is a fun final touchpoint with the kids each night and provides a good lesson in discipline and accountability. My wife sometimes doesn't appreciate the timing of the activities, but we've added it to the very beginning of the bedtime routine (workout, bath, teeth, books) to give ample time to unwind. 

SR: What's your favorite concrete takeaway you've learned from juggling parenting and being a pro athlete? What would you tell dads who are trying to stay fit, too?

MG: From my experience, the best advice I would offer to fathers trying to improve their fitness while balancing parenthood is to be creative and involve your kids as much as possible. Run while kids are at practice, have your kids bike while you run, turn a mountain training session into a camping/hiking weekend with the family. I frequently train while pushing a double stroller or riding a tandem bike. After morning workouts, I will cool down with my six year old who is aiming to break his one mile personal record. My key takeaway from parenting, working full-time, and being a professional athlete is to always workout early before conflicts or distractions can arise. There is always time if you want it enough. 

WORKOUT: Pre-Bedtime Push-Pull Pyramid

1 rep per year of life

  • Pull Ups
  • Sit Ups
  • Push Ups