These days, your daily exercise might look like a trip to the grocery or farmers' market, hauling heavy grocery bags back home. But instead of immediately unpacking your groceries (or storing your totes), consider using them as weights to squeeze in a quick workout.
If you don't have access to a pair of dumbbells, carrying heavy groceries is actually a great substitute for maintaining your fitness, building overall muscle strength and toning up. Depending on the size of your grocery bag or tote, a full bag can weigh at least 20 pounds, which packs enough resistance to work your muscles.
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This 20-minute, full-body workout requires two heavy grocery bags and will get your heart rate pumping by training your legs, arms, shoulders and back. Start off light if you're not sure how much weight you can handle, and as you get stronger, fill your bag with more things, like books, water bottles, bags of rice and pasta and whatever else you can find.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we've got something for everyone.
Move 1: Squat
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly turned out. Hold one grocery bag in each hand by your side.
- Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, or as low as you can go comfortably while maintaining good form. Your knees should be over your toes and your gaze should be straight ahead. Keep your back flat and avoid hunching or arching your back.
- Hold for one count at the bottom of the movement before pressing your heels into the ground to straighten your legs and return to the starting position.
If you are struggling to do this exercise correctly as you perform the movement, lower down as if you're taking a seat into an invisible chair.
Move 2: Stationary Lunge
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a grocery bag in each hand by your sides.
Keeping your gaze straight ahead, take a large step forward with one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. The back knee shouldn’t touch the floor.
Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and does not go over your knee.
Hold this position for one count before pushing back up through the heel of your front foot to the starting position.
Perform the same movement again on the opposite leg. Alternate legs on each repetition until you have completed 15 repetitions.
It's easy to lose your balance with this exercise. Make sure you do it slowly and with control. If you are struggling to perform the movement with grocery bags, practice the exercise without them, and keep your hands on your hips or hold onto a chair beside you for balance.
Move 3: Standing Lateral Raise
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned out and hold a shopping bag in each hand by your side, palms facing in.
- Keep your back straight and core tight. Look forward with a slight bend in your knees.
- With a slight bend in each elbow, slowly raise the grocery bags out to your side until your arms are parallel with the ground.
- Pause at the top of the movement for one count before slowly lowering the grocery bags back to the starting position.
Do not swing your body or your arms to perform this exercise. Make sure you keep your back straight at all times and don't arch your back or shrug and tense your shoulders.
Move 4: Overhead Triceps Extension
- Sit on a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Hold one shopping bag in each hand above your head.
- Slowly lower the grocery bags behind your head until your forearms are parallel with the ground, or just below parallel.
- Keep your elbows close to your head and facing forward throughout the movement.
- Hold for one count before extending your arms back to the starting position.
Move 5: Biceps Curl
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a grocery bag in each hand, palms facing forward.
- Slowly raise the shopping bags toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows firmly tucked into your sides throughout the movement.
- Finish at the top of the movement with your palms facing you.
- Hold for one count before slowly lowering the grocery bags back down to the starting position.
Move 6: Bent-Over Row
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a shopping bag in each hand by your sides.
- Keeping your back flat, hinge forward until your back is parallel to the floor. Make sure you have a slight bend in the knees and that your neck and head are aligned with your back.
- Slowly row the grocery bags toward your hips, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Pause for one count before lowering the grocery bags to the starting position.
If you can't bring your back parallel to the ground, then hinge your torso forward as comfortably as you can go.