The Fervent Dad Challenge
A daily workout for the body, mind, heart, and spirit for Christian fathers of toddlers.
Although I have never done CrossFit, sometimes I feel that just being a father to toddlers is close enough.
As you naturally find yourself carrying them from place to place, it becomes quite evident that toddlers have the potential to be a fantastic workout tool. Plus, each day that you feed them, they grow a little bit bigger and weigh a little bit more.
In truth, however, parenting toddlers trains us in ways that supersede our physical bodies alone. This fact (and the helpful suggestions of a tremendous brother in Christ in bible study) became my inspiration behind the development of “The Fervent Dad Challenge”.
As you go through the week, not only will you hit every major muscle group, but you will get a chance to connect with your kids and promote biblical growth towards other important components of your overall health.
Note that there are two main rules that require strict adherence:
- Don’t take this too seriously.
- Have fun!
Though I tailored this challenge towards my own experience as a dad, there is nothing stopping moms from participating. Should you choose to accept “The Fervent Dad Challenge”, I’d love to hear about the results. Please share your stories!
Caution: Do not perform any exercise in a speed or manner that puts your child at risk of injury. If you are not comfortable, STOP. I’m contemplating releasing a more detailed guide with additional physical exercises in a future ebook (because why not?).
Body: Toddler Floor Press. Lay flat on your back on the floor with knees bent so that both feet are planted on the ground. Hold toddler at arm’s length with them facing you. Lower your toddler and kiss them on the head. Squeeze abs and push back up to starting position. Repeat for max reps and sets.
Primary Muscle: Chest
Secondary Muscle(s): Shoulders, Triceps
Mind: Geography. Show your kid(s) a new country on a map. Pull up an image on a tablet/smart phone that shows the landscape.
Heart: High fives. Give your kid(s) 10 high fives. Pretend each one is progressively making your hand hurt worse. Comment on how strong they are.
Spirit: Worship. Teach your toddler a line from your favorite worship song. Sing it together.
Body: Toddler Bent Over Row. With knees slightly bent, keep your back straight and bend over until it is almost parallel with the floor. Grab your toddler (perpendicular to you, facing the ground). Pull toddler to your stomach. Return the toddler towards the ground. When their feet and/or hands graze the ground loudly say “Boing!” and pull them back up again towards your stomach. Repeat for max reps and sets.
Primary Muscle: Back
Secondary Muscle(s): Biceps
Mind: Math. Layout toys in the room and count them together.
Heart: Tickles. Give your kid(s) 10 tickles. Allow them to tickle you back. Laugh hysterically.
Spirit: Prayer for the hurting. Pray with your kid(s) for someone specific that is sick or has a need.
Body: Toddler Squat. Either hug toddler or hold at arm’s length (more difficult – simultaneously works arms). Squat down as low as possible. Return to starting position. Keep a deadpan face and say “ribbit”. Repeat for max reps and sets.
Primary Muscle: Quadriceps
Secondary Muscle(s): Calves
Mind: Science. Show them a picture of a weird animal or an image from space (galaxies, stars, planet, etc.). Go for something interesting and tell them that God made it.
Heart: Funny faces. At the count of 3, everyone is to make the funniest face they can muster.
Spirit: Old Testament. Share an old testament story with your children.
Body: Toddler Shoulder Press. Grip toddler under arms. Squeezing abs and keeping back straight, push toddler straight up over your head. Lower toddler and blow a raspberry on their belly. Push back up again. Repeat for max reps and sets.
Primary Muscle: Shoulders
Secondary Muscle(s): Triceps
Mind: English. Pick a word and spell it out loud together.
Heart: Funny faces. At the count of 3, everyone is to make the funniest face they can muster. Do this at least three times.
Spirit: New Testament. Share a new testament story with your children.
Body: Toddler Swing. Get into squat position with feet shoulder width apart. Grab toddler under arms. Squat up and swing toddler forwards, exploding the hips and making a sound like a rocket blast. (Optional: toss the toddler a short distance in the air and catch). Swing toddler back down to starting position.
Primary Muscle: Hamstrings
Secondary Muscle(s): Low Back, Deltoids
Mind: Art. Draw a picture together. Hang it up on the fridge for a week.
Heart: Animal Impersonations. Pick an animal and have everyone pretend to be one. Do this with at least five different animals.
Spirit: Thanking God. Let everyone pick out three things that they are thankful for. Pray and thank God together.
Body: Toddler Wagon Pull (or Car Push). Load your toddler(s) and any additional weight desired into a wagon. With one arm, pull the wagon for a sizeable distance. Make race car noises as you do this. Switch arms and repeat. To increase difficulty, perform on grass or sand (hardest). Alternatively, if you do not have a wagon, buy one immediately – they are one of the most useful tools in the world for parents of toddlers. In the meantime, load your kid(s) into any toy vehicles they have and push them at a sprint instead.
Mind: History. Lookup a historical fact to share with your kids. Loads of options here. Do a web search for “on this day in history” if you have no ideas.
Heart: Hugs. Hug kid(s) for at least ten seconds and tell them how great they are.
Spirit: Love of Jesus. Tell your kids five things that Jesus love them more than (i.e. ice cream, toys, etc.).
Rest and reflect on the amazing week you had with your kids! Ask them which activity was their favorite. Repeat challenge as desired!
“Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!…” Psalm 127:4-5 NLT
– Nicolas C. Day
Life in the 21st century is fast, full of distractions, and overloaded with a paralyzing abundance of difficult choices. There are several products and resources that I have found helpful in navigating the waters as a Christian and a parent. You can check these out on the Fervent Recommendations page.