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Five exercises to improve your everyday strength

No time? No problem. These quick-and-simple exercises will help you tackle everyday tasks from carrying the groceries to picking up your toddler

Woman uses exercise ball to do a crunch.

There are all kinds of ambitious reasons for building increased strength. Maybe you want to climb a mountain, compete in an Iron Man event, or land a job as a model for romance novel covers.

But there is also a more banal, but no less important motivation for building strength: It makes everyday life way easier. From child-wrangling to grocery shopping to household and garden chores, we are constantly doing things that rely on strength, and the best way to do those things (especially without injury) is to build that strength.

To find out how, we asked Aaptiv trainer Casey Sines for some tips. Many of his suggestions can be found in his Aaptiv workouts “Round it Up,” “Sugar & Spice,” “Break it Down Now,” and “Let’s Go, Core!” (These are all available in the Aaptiv fitness app. Eligible Haven Term policyholders enjoy a no-cost subscription via Haven Life Plus, a bonus rider with a suite of low- and no-cost services.)

But he also gave us five individual exercises that everyone can use. “There are some fundamental strength categories: a squat, hinge, lunge, rotation, a push, and a pull,” says Sines. “Within those fields, I think some can be combined to create five moves.” The good news is that none of them takes a lot of time or requires extensive equipment, making it easier to squeeze a workout into a busy routine.

So fire up your Get Hyped playlist, grab a workout buddy (if you want), and build muscle with these five strength training exercises.

In this article:

A squat

“It’s a classic and we use it daily. Picking up something heavy, grabbing things from the floor, shoveling snow — we can protect our joints and backs by using the correct squat form. This also strengthens your quads and glutes.”

Note that you can make your squats work even harder by adding weight (while ensuring you maintain correct form, especially regarding your back, to reduce your risk of injury). But even just using body weight will provide strength gains.

Deadlifts, aka good mornings

Hines is referring to two barbell-based resistance training exercises that involve a hinge-like action. “The hinge motion is a common one that can also help make you stronger in everyday activities like playing with small kids, leaning forward to garden; pretty much any forward lean from the hips. Adding good mornings or deadlifts to your routine can help strengthen your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings, while helping to protect your lower back from injury.

Reverse lunge and rotation

“This is a favorite of mine,” says Hines. To do the exercise, you hold a dumbbell, step back into a one-knee kneel, and twist your upper body.

“Lunges are another great strength exercise, focussing on the glutes, the quads predominantly, and some core. They also help with balance, especially with the rotation added. This movement is also great to add core engagement and rotation to a lower body move.”

He adds, “We use a rotation like this in all types of rotational sports — tennis, golf, pickleball — and twisting to grab something” (like a small child, for example). “Lunges help with stability in all types of movement.”

Renegade row and push-up

“A combo move that gives us an upper body push and pull movement,” says Hines. This is a dumbbell exercise, with the “row” being a way of lifting the weight.

“The row strengthens your back and performing it in a plank position adds core and stability enhancement, too. The push up strengthens your chest and shoulders with your core coming in to assist. In our everyday life we see the rowing movement when we start the lawn mower, pull on a door, or do vacuuming. Our push ups help with pushing motions like with a shopping cart, passing a ball, and moving furniture.”

Dead bug

“Super fun name, and I love what it does for your core,” says Hines. If you’re not familiar with this, do a quick image search, and get ready to see a lot of fit-looking people lying on their backs like, well, dead insects.

“Your core is a part of everything that you do and if it’s weak you open yourself up to all types of injuries. This exercise strengthens all parts of your core and your lower back. Challenging your core through moves like a dead bug helps with all types of everyday movements like getting out of bed, chasing your pets or kids around, proper posture sitting at the computer, and even breathing.”

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Always check with your doctor before starting a fitness program.

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About Michael Davis

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Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

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