07/08/2022 | Andrew Tracey
Andrew Tracey is a long time collaborator with Bulldog Gear. A coach, writer and current fitness editor of Men’s Health Magazine, he has been in and around the fitness industry for the past 17 years. Having enjoyed and endured a number of disciplines from endurance racing, to strongman, to Crossfit AT enjoys getting neck deep in the practice just as much as the theory.

People always cite ‘staying fit to play with my kids’, as a major motivation for training. It’s up there as one of the most wholesome reasons for pursuing a life of fitness.

But the truth is, you can do a lot to stay fit by playing with your kids; and by regularly making ‘playtime’ more active, you can all get a decent dose of physical goodness.

I mean, you’re probably not going to win the Olympia or podium at the CF Games solely from playing football rounders with your kids, are you?


There’s a lot you can do to tick the boxes that result in all of the physiological benefits of exercise, before you ever have to think about actually ‘training’.

I always find it marginally paradoxical when people say they took up training the first time they got out of breath chasing after their kids, because the most ‘sport’s specific’ solution to that problem would just be to chase your kids around more often, until it’s no longer a problem. (And if they’re getting faster and more conditioned themselves, you literally have a built-in progression model).

Climbing trees, running sprint races, playing catch, building rope swings (and climbing them), all require quite a degree of physical dexterity, BUT, they will all also build and maintain that dexterity.

People talk all the time about wanting to ‘set a good example’ for their kids— and making the gym a big part of your life and demonstrating that commitment to maintaining a strong and healthy body is certainly an admirable way to do that, and normalises it, but you can also physically embody that in the way you interact with them and the activities you choose- giving them living proof of the importance of physical fitness and robustness.

There’s also a lot to be said for actively working out around your kids too, whether they choose to join in or not. Growing up thinking that it’s perfectly normal to throw a sandbag around your garden or smash out push-ups in your living room is a powerful belief to bestow upon a young mind.

As a super accessible ‘hack’ for new dads- I don’t think I ever used a pushchair for the first few years of my daughter’s life, I would just carry her everywhere, and to be honest it gives you just the right level of ambient bicep pump that isn’t too vulgar. So that’s a start.

But if you’re looking for a way of incorporating some genuine training into playtime; some activities that are actually going to move the needle on your goals, whilst keeping your kids entertained, then we’ve got 3 GPP (general physical preparedness) workouts that will ensure that every day is sports day.

Just take it easy on the movement standards, yeah?


Grab yourself an atlas ball or sandbag, and a wall ball or light sandbag for the juniors and go head-to-head in a game of lift’n’carry.

Got another willing adult and a pair of kids to hand? Team up and go relay style.

Use whatever garden or park space you have for the carries and shuttle back and forth where necessary.


10 x Atlas Ball ground-to-overhead

30m bear hug carry

15 x Atlas Ball over shoulder

30m bear hug carry

20 x Atlas Ball squats

30m bear hug carry

Go for best two out of three to protect their egos (or yours)



Pace out a 15m relay zone and gather everything heavy you’ve got at one end- your heaviest dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags and plates, as well as reciprocal lightweight equivalents for your ‘competition’.

Perform a loading medley by shuttling one piece of kit at a time to the other end of your ‘course’ before sprinting back for the next. Keep going until all of your implements are over the line, then hit the with the stinger that it’s all got to come back.

First back wins the round.

Here’s an example-


15m single arm overhead dumbbell carry

15m sprint back

15m Kettlebell single arm farmers carry

15m sprint back

15m Atlas Ball/ Sandbag bear hug carry

15m single arm overhead dumbbell carry (other arm)

15m sprint back

15m kettlebell single arm farmers carry (other arm)

15m sprint back

Rest, eat an orange slice, repeat.



Grab yourself a climbing rope and some additional straps and carabiners, and gymnastics rings if you’ve got them. Head out to the woods or park, kids in tow. Take some time to hike around and find the perfect tree to hang your rope from. Have your assistant help you climb the tree, throw the rope or otherwise find a way to secure it over a strong branch.

Once your rope is secured, use it to climb up and secure your rings, next to the rope- setting them at the right height for you to perform chins, but a safe distance for the junior squad to drop off of.

Encourage them to climb the rope, swing from ring to ring and back, and just generally teach them some basic, unstructured gymnastics skills in your rest period between the following:


2 x rope climb

4 x muscle-up (or regression)

6 x ring dip

8 x burpee

10 x air squat


If they want to jump in on the burpees, then great! But just remember, they’re closer to the floor than you, so don’t get too bitter when they beat you.

Andrew Tracey