When country singer Russell Dickerson became a father in September, he vowed he wouldn’t succumb to dad bod. With less time for the gym, he embraced high-intensity workouts and found ways to include his son Remington in them.
Mr. Dickerson, 34, used to spend more than an hour on workouts that focused one day on cardio, the next on legs. Now, he tries to hit all muscle groups and get a dose of cardio in 30 minutes or less. “I’ve upped my intensity nearly 50% and not only am I saving time, I’m getting a better workout,” he says.
He learned about the workouts through an Instagram feed called Dad Bod (Workout of the Day), which offers fitness tips. “I saw this dad who was crushing life with these 20- to 30-minute workouts,” he says. “I was really inspired.”
After a year at home, Mr. Dickerson has been training to go back on tour this summer. During a concert, he estimates he is on stage between 45 and 90 minutes. “When I perform a show it’s like I’m jogging and singing at the top of my lungs the entire time,” he says. “I need to keep up my cardio to get my lungs ready.”
During lockdown, he and his wife, Kailey Dickerson, transformed the driveway of their Nashville, Tenn., home into a gym. He says working out at home with minimal equipment will help the couple transition to life on the road. “You realize you can be pretty scrappy and still get a great workout,” Mr. Dickerson says. “Now that I’ll have the little guy with me on tour, efficiency is the only way I’ll be able to maintain a routine.”
“I get up at 6:30 a.m. and the little man hangs with me while I shred so my wife can get an extra hour of sleep,” he says. Remington sits in his jumper while Dad works out. Mr. Dickerson does five sets of 10 reps of alternating 30-pound burpee snatches and off-set push-ups, where one hand is on a weight and the other on the floor. To perform renegade rows with a reach, he grips 30-pound dumbbells in plank pose and alternates bringing one to a row at chest level and then extends it straight up in the air. Sometimes he will do single-arm biceps curls using Remington in his jumper as a weight. His battle rope circuit includes 30 jumping jacks holding ropes, 20 rope slams and 60 alternating waves.
For cardio, he will do sprints on the rowing machine switching between 30 seconds hard and 30 seconds of rest for 20 minutes. Or, to change things up, he puts his son in a jogging stroller and sprints up a quarter-mile hill and then jogs down, four times. On days he runs without Remington, he stops at the top of the hill and chops wood. “It feels good to be in the woods and do something manly versus being in a gym tossing around a metal dumbbell,” he says. “I channel my lumberjack energy.”
Mr. Dickerson tries to do three to four high-intensity workouts a week and devotes other days to running on the trails of Percy Warner Park. He usually logs up to 4 miles and tries to maintain a sub 8-minute mile pace.
On the road, he travels with resistance bands and adjustable dumbbells. His bass player and tour manager are his workout buddies. “We hold each other accountable,” he says.
Breakfast: Whole Foods 360 frozen buttermilk protein waffles toasted and topped with creamy peanut butter and honey. Half decaf-half regular coffee made in a Chemex.
Hydration: “I try to drink one gallon of water a day,” he says.
Post-workout fuel: He makes a smoothie with chocolate protein powder, collagen peptides, peanut butter powder, half a banana and unsweetened almond milk.
Eating on the road: “When you live a rock-star life you show up at these county fairs and the only options for food are biscuits and gravy, fried chicken or mac n’ cheese,” he says. “Sometimes I end up eating almonds for dinner.”
Healthy fix: “My wife and I recently started doing MegaFit Meals service,” he says. “I plan to bring their frozen dinners on the tour bus so I always have a healthy option.”
Cheat meal: Chick-fil-A. “I get two chicken sandwiches, a four-count of [chicken] strips with all the sauce, fries and a Coke,” he says.
Weekend splurge: “My son was born on a Saturday and on the way home from the hospital we stopped to get doughnuts,” he says. “That’s become a new family tradition that I call ‘doughnut daderday.’ ”
BOB Gear Alterrain Pro Jogging Stroller ($680)
NordicTrack RW900 Rowing Machine ($1,600) “I was taking rowing classes at the YMCA, and during Covid my wife and I bought this and we both love it,” he says. “I’ll miss it on tour.”
Hoka One One Carbon X shoes ($180) “I also bought their hiking boots in every color to wear on stage instead of cowboy boots,” he says. “The giant sole makes them look like a military boot, but they’re so comfortable. The extra cushioning definitely helps when I’m jumping off of stuff.”
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells ($400)
Battle rope ($150)
Chubbies compression-lined athletic shorts ($70)
Playlist: “When I’m running through the woods I don’t want Katy Perry or Travis Scott banging in my ear,” he says. “I want to enjoy nature. That’s my thinking time, when I dream up new songs.”
Your workout doesn’t have to take hours.
Lisa Stein, a strength coach at Deep Relief Peak Performance Athletic Training Center in Maui says incorporating multitasking exercises that simultaneously work different muscles is a great way to get the most bang for your buck. For example, a step-up to an overhead press challenges balance while also engaging the core and working the upper body. Adding a biceps curl to a back lunge is a great way to work balance and the lower and upper body. And you can add a row to the top of a dead-lift, she suggests.
“Combining an upper- and lower-body exercise is an easy way to condense your workout to 10 movements rather than 20,” she says. Throwing in short bursts of cardio, whether jumping rope or doing burpees, will also get your heart rate up for a dose of cardio.
Ms. Stein says you don’t want to do a high-intensity workout every day. It’s important to have rest days and devote some workouts to larger muscle groups.
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Write to Jen Murphy at [email protected]
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