I am interested in identifying lifestyle changes which are beneficial to upper-body strength while also being practical for accomplishing other common tasks. In other words, activities which fit into a typical lifestyle and serve purposes other than just building strength.

For example, commuting via bicycle instead of by motor vehicle is an example of a lifestyle change that encourages lower-body and cardiovascular strength. I want similar ideas for the upper-body.

I am seeking ideas that would be considered practical for the average person, so "build your house in a tree, and climb a rope to it every day" is not what I am looking for.

  • Two downvotes and no comments? If I am off track here, some guidance would be appreciated.
    – brainbolt
    Dec 17 '14 at 21:27
  • the downvotes are coming because it's going to be nearly impossible to deliver an accurate answer rather than just a bunch of opinions. I can go surfing every day which is a ton of paddling, but maybe you can't. It's just going to be a subjective and opinion based list.
    – Eric
    Dec 17 '14 at 21:41
  • I agree, but that is what I am looking for - ideas. Is this not the venue for such a question? If not, can you offer an alternative?
    – brainbolt
    Dec 17 '14 at 21:43
  • Start a push up regiment every day. Start with two sets of ten repetitions and work you way up until you are doing a couple of hundred every morning. Look into buying a chin up bar that fits on your door to balance out your front and back muscles. Dec 17 '14 at 21:53
  • @brainbolt - I would suggest that you read the FAQ and the tour, it will explain what kinds of questions can and can't be asked. Seeing as how you have a few different SE sites listed in your profile, I'm surprised that you don't know that open ended, chatty opinion type questions are off topic on pretty much every SE site there is.
    – JohnP
    Dec 18 '14 at 14:52

Carry your groceries home on foot, holding them in your arms or at your sides with your hands.

Garden. Do home repairs and yardwork yourself.

Honestly the entire endeavor of trying to work out without working out is, in my opinion, doomed. You can lead a more active lifestyle without explicitly working out. But as soon as you want any sort of specific results--like, say, working your upper body--I don't see the point of avoiding working out. Just get a pull-up bar and use it.


As @Dave points out taking care of your house and yard will keep your upper-body active. However, if you want more of an upper-body workout, especially for strengthening, working out is more specific and time efficient.

Some specific lifestyle activities that can help exercise the upper body (conditioning and some strengthening) could include chores:

Yard and outdoor work: Mowing, digging, planting, trimming, hauling trash cans and wheelbarrows, chopping, sawing, and sweeping the patio or driveway, moving patio and lawn furniture, washing windows manually, waxing/polishing the car

Indoor work: Vacuuming, moving the furniture, turning the mattress, mopping, scrubbing, polishing

When doing any of the above repetitive activities for the sake of your body, try to switch off hands so that you are not only working your dominant side.

Sports: Adding a sport that uses the upper-body such as tennis or swimming is a good lifestyle activity.

In addition to getting some exercise with the above activities you will also be popular around your house!


Children love being lifted like kettlebells or "boinged" around the house like an overhead press. As the children grow, you'll naturally increase your resistance. If you don't have children, acquiring them can be a workout, similar to push-ups or (if you need a heavier weight than a newborn provides) a farmer's walk.

  • 1
    +1 for making me laugh - I used to carry the boys constantly back when that was possible. Now one of them is taller than me. I'm pretty sure that trying to carry him around would do more damage than good. :-)
    – Bob Cross
    Dec 20 '14 at 20:52

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