Strength Training For the Real World

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Just to be clear: This blog post has nothing to do with the reality series, The Real World…😉

Speaking of which, I crushed that show in its early days. I watched every season up until Paris (season 13); after that it kinda lost its luster for me. Watching people make out in hot tubs wasn’t my idea of must-watch-tv.

(Excuse me while I go catch up on The Bachelorette).1.

Nope, today’s guest post, written by NY-based personal trainer Elaine Studdert (who wrote THIS post on sustainable fitness on this site a few months ago), pertains to strength training as it relates to “real world” activities like yard work, rough-housing with your kids, hauling suitcases, and fighting off a pack of ninjas.

We’re enamored if not programmed to think that the more advanced an exercise or program the better it must be. That couldn’t be further from the truth.


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Real World Strength Training

I’m a proud hockey mom to three boys. As my boys grow older their hockey equipment grows with them. Back when they were just little Mites, I’d carry their bags – which were heavy but manageable.

Fast forward to the Pee Wees and Bantam divisions, those same hockey bags have gotten exponentially bigger in size and weight. Even though they carry their own gear now every once in a while they need a hand. This is one of the many reasons I need to maintain the ability to pick up heavy stuff.

And this is true for everyone, whether it’s a hockey bag or a trash bag. In all of our lives, there will be situations that require heavy lifting.

This is real world training.

Training that doesn’t take place in a gym.

This is the type of training we need more than that weekend boot camp class.

Carrying suitcases, hauling groceries, walking up a flight of stairs, picking up your kids/grandkids, running after your dog, moving furniture, picking laundry up off the floor, etc.

The list goes on and on.

These everyday activities may not seem like a workout. In fact, we usually take for granted our ability to manage these tasks, until it becomes a challenge. That’s why it’s so important to put the work in every day. Being consistent over time will keep you in form to be capable of these everyday activities.

In the healthcare industry these movements are called ADL’s (activities of daily living).

Basic self-care activities that people do on a daily basis. We learn these basic skills as young children. As we play, run, jump and navigate the playground our body is figuring it all out and getting stronger. It’s important to find your adult playground to maintain this functional movement.  Maintaining the ability to perform ADL’s as we get older should be top priority.

So even if we’re not training for a sporting event, we should technically be in training every day for life.

How Do We Get Fit for Life?

Real life requires us to:

Squat – ex. getting up and down from a chair

Hinge – ex. pick something up off the floor

Push – ex. Push a shopping cart

Pull – ex. opening a car door

Carry – ex. holding a suitcase or grocery bags

Training these movements with external resistance or load is essential for maintaining muscle mass. And as we age, we want to hold on to our muscle as long as we can.

This doesn’t mean we have to be become bodybuilders or Olympic lifters. For most of us, this just means picking up some weight and performing these movement patterns 2-3 times per week. Strength training with movements that mimic real life will prepare you for all the activities you do on a daily basis.

It’s really as simple as that.

Where do we start?

The overwhelming amount of fitness information and resources we have access to can be confusing and complicated, especially for someone who is new to exercise.

  • What is the right plan?
  • Who do I follow on Instagram?
  • What app do I download?
  • Which device do I need to monitor my activity?

Breaking it down to the simplest components will make it less intimidating. Don’t overthink it. The quality of the exercises is way more important than quantity. Just start with the fundamentals and take it from there. Put one foot in front of the other and the rest will happen.

Here’s a Sample @Home Workout

A1. Squat: Goblet Squat w/ Lowering

A2. Hinge: Band Pull-Through

A3. Push – Gripless FacePull to Press

A4. Pull – Band Row Rotational Row w/ Weight Shift

A5. Carry – Goblet Carry


Carrying some weight, making small gains day in and day out, pushing yourself hard but not killing yourself. It all adds up and keeps us in shape to do the things in life we enjoy.

About the Author

Elaine Studdert is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer based in Westchester, NY. She trains clients virtually and in-person at HealthyFit in Mamaroneck. Elaine specializes in functional movement and kettlebell training. She loves to work with clients who are looking to improve their quality of life through movement. See her most recent article on virtual fitness training at Larchmont Loop.

Follow Elaine on social media: Instagram: @elainestuddert

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  1. Michelle is an AWESOME bachelorette by the way. I can’t say any of the dudes this season are blowing my mind, but my early prediction is that it’ll come down to Nayte and Joe.

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