Last updated: Mar 05, 2008


You work out. Youve got some muscle—and youve earned it. So why does your back hurt after a marathon housecleaning? Even something as simple as lifting the recycling bin can leave you sorer than a trip to the gym. Well, the fact is, most traditional strength exercises dont prepare you for all the bending, pushing, and twisting you do every day. But these will. Dont just take our word for it: Try these moves from exercise physiologist Carla Sottovia, PhD, assistant fitness director for the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. Add one or two to your usual workout two to three times per week, and youll build all the strength (well, at least the physical kind) you need to get through your day.


If you often: Vacuum
Do this move: Standing Row in Squat Position
How it helps: Activates your core and strengthens the back muscles you use when pushing the vacuum back and forth … and back and forth.

How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in right hand. Bend both knees into a squat and lean forward slightly, keeping back flat. Reach right arm diagonally toward floor, pull right elbow back to 90 degrees, then move weight back toward floor. Do 10–12 reps, return to standing, then repeat with left arm to complete the set. Do 2 sets.


 
If you often: Take out the recycling
Do this move: Forward Lunge With Lean
How it helps: Strengthens hamstrings and quadriceps, and gets the stabilizing muscles in your lower back into the action.

How to do it: Start with feet together, a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in each hand. Step left leg forward into a lunge (dont let knee go beyond toes). Slowly lean forward, bending at hips with back straight, and touch weights to the floor on either side of leg. Return to starting position. Do 10–12 reps, then repeat with right leg to complete the set. Do 2 sets.



 
If you often: Lift a toddler
Do this move: Forward Lunge With Biceps Curl
How it helps: Strengthens quads, hamstrings, and butt, as well as your biceps, which engage when you pull the child in toward your body.

How to do it: Start with feet together, a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in each hand. Step left leg forward into a lunge; bring arms out parallel to floor, palms up. Curl weights in, then extend back out. Return to starting position; repeat with right leg to complete the set. Do 2 sets of 10–12 reps.



 
If you often: Load the dishwasher
Do this move: Side Lunge With Twist
How it helps: Strengthens lower body and core so you can safely rotate your body while picking up or putting down heavy pots and pans.

How to do it: With a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in right hand, step left leg to side and lower into lunge, toes pointing out. Lift right arm out to side, parallel to floor. Keeping back flat, bring arm down across body, reaching toward left little toe. Return to standing with weight out to side. Do 10–12 reps, then switch sides and repeat to complete the set. Do 2 sets.