Our challenge this week seems simple, but might take some creativity to figure out how to add more lifting into your life!
The most important takeaway this week is to re-frame the way you think about lifting things. Once again, we are going to think about what our ancestors used to do. There are so many modern day conveniences that allow us to avoid lifting anything. I encourage you to be conscious of these conveniences and when possible avoid them so that you use your muscles actively throughout the day!
Until a few weeks ago, I never really thought about any of this. Like most people in our country, I would have told you that if you want to lift things, go to the gym. I recently heard a story about having a beach ready body that really resonated with me. A beach body should not be one that simply looks good in a swim suit. A beach ready body is one that is "functional" at the beach. It is a body that if someone were struggling out in the waves, could run, swim, and pick up and carry the struggling person to safety. Often by default if you can do these things well, you probably also look good in the swimsuit, but that is an added bonus.
So what is the best way to get this “functional” beach body? Carry things, move your body, keep your muscles in your body active and engaged as much as possible.
Step 1) Move more- we already talked about this a few weeks ago- so I’ll link back to that article
Step 2) Carry things while you move!
One of the great things about carrying things while you move your body is that you will naturally shift constantly activating all sorts of different muscle groups. If you go to a gym and do a bicep curl machine for example, you work 1 muscle in 1 plane. This doesn’t translate very well to real life movement since there aren’t many situations in which you only have to control something that you lift in one direction with one muscle group. If you take a walk while carrying something you work your whole upper body in all 3 planes!
Lifting/carrying things doesn’t just mean objects- this can mean lifting your body as well. Throughout the course of the day, your muscles will be active a much higher percentage of the time if you are moving, walking, or even sitting unsupported (aka not sinking into a couch or Lazyboy where all of your mucles can just turn off). By sitting on the floor or a stool, you will constantly be shifting your body and keeping your core engaged!
So now that I’ve got you thinking a little bit differently about lifting things and keeping your muscles engaged throughout the day- what are some ways to do this?
- Carrying food- bring your own bags to the grocery store, and carry your food instead of using a cart
- Carrying children- I have been going for walks carrying my 20 pound baby instead of pushing her in a stroller. This way I get an upper body workout- and she does too! In the stroller, she can just turn off all of her muscles instead of supporting her head and torso.
- Carrying water- got a garden? Try watering manually instead of using a hose or a sprinkler
- Carrying supplies on your hike. If you are going for a walk- grab a sack or a pillow case and throw your water and snacks in there. While this is slightly less comfortable than a backpack, carrying it will involve constantly shifting positions and arms which allows different muscle groups to activate! At stopping points, you can swing your sack like a homemade kettle bell!
- Lift your body by doing something like rock climbing, or even playing on the monkey bars at a local park!
- Keep your muscles engaged by standing, sitting on the floor, or sitting in a backless chair/stool instead of sinking into a comfy couch.
- If you have a desk job, try a standing desk at work
- Laundry- lifting/carrying laundry baskets/clothes can be a great workout!
- Cleaning- instead of using a device like a vacuum or a broom, get down on the floor to clean floors
- Go swimming! This is a great way to engage muscles throughout your body (and important if you want that beach body ready that is able to rescue the drowning swimmer!)
What about the gym?
I am not trying to tell you not to go to the gym. I think that this can be a great place to activate your muscles. There are 2 things that worry me about the gym. First of all, I want to shift your thinking from sleeping/sitting 23+ hours a day and moving only during that 30-60 min gym session. I think that movement and muscle engagement should be something we are striving to do as much as possible while we are awake! My second concern about the gym is that people often do exercises that don’t translate well into real life movements. I want you to do movements that mimic things you have to do in real life- not simply getting on an elliptical machine or doing weight machines that isolate one muscle group at a time in one plane. The gym is a great addition to an active lifestyle, but should not be your only activity throughout the day!
So there you have it! I hope you are starting to change the way you think about movement and activity throughout the day. This week try to use at least one of our suggestions to “lift things”- including your own body more often! Let us know how it goes on our facebook page!!