Pump Up Your Arms

If you’re not into pumping iron you can sneak some arm-strengthening moves into your daily routine the old-fashioned way: bake bread, scrub the floor, chop wood, and more. Read on to discover gym-less routes to build muscles and banish stress.

Stop Using Weed Killer On Your Garden

Yes, this will encourage weeds to grow with wild abandon (even with mulch). That’s good, because your job is to get down on your hands and knees once a week to rip weeds out of the ground. Leaning onto your hands as you weed will build arm, shoulder, and upper back strength, and yanking the weeds provides an extra dollop of arm-building strength. Just remember to alternate hands as you reach and pull so you work both arms equally.

Cut Your Own Wood

If you use a fireplace, then chances are you are burning prepackaged logs bought at the grocery store or split wood delivered and stacked by that burly lawn-service guy. If you have the option, though, go out and chop your own wood. Starting in July and continuing through the first snow of winter, do 30 minutes of log splitting every weekend. Too much at once and it’s bad for your back. But in small doses, cutting wood is amazingly good exercise. One medium-sized tree cut down makes for more than enough wood for one or two years of chopping.

Bake Bread Once a Week

You’ll strengthen your arms, shoulders, and hands as you simultaneously soothe away stress. There’s nothing more soothing than the repetitive motion of kneading dough and nothing more pleasing than the smell of bread rising in the oven. Plus, home-baked bread—kneaded with your own two hands—tastes better than anything you can buy in the store or make in the bread maker.

Make Your Own Pizza

Make pie dough instead of buying pre-made crusts. The forward and back action of using a rolling pin is a great arm and shoulder workout. Plus, your family will thank you for your effort later, as no commercial crust compares to homemade.

Nix the Mixer

Trade in your electric mixer for a whisk and wooden spoon. You’ll build arm strength as you use your own elbow grease to mix batter. Make sure to use both hands to work your arms evenly.

Beat Your Eggs

Make an omelet rather than fried eggs. Fill it with at least three different vegetables, such as spinach, mushrooms, and onions. You’ll not only use your arms to whisk the eggs and chop the veggies, but you’ll also improve your health by incorporating vegetables into your morning meal.

Stew In a Skillet

Use a cast-iron skillet for most of your cooking—and store it in the drawer under the oven. That way you must lift the heavy skillet onto the stove each time you need it—building more arm strength with every meal.

Cut with a Cleaver

Use a large cleaver for your everyday chopping and cooking. Professional chefs love cleavers for their heft, weight, and super-sharp, slightly rounded edge. We love them because they are heavy and give your hand and arm a great workout while you cook.

Get Your Water by the Gallon

Pour water out of a gallon jug. Although, as the popular joke goes, you probably won’t build much arm strength lifting a beer can to your mouth, the weight of a gallon jug just may do the trick (a gallon of water weighs more than 8 pounds and amounts to almost four litres!). Plus, this is roughly how much water you need to drink in a typical day to stay hydrated. Curl your gallon jug five times—by bending your elbow and bringing your hand to your shoulder—before pouring.

Hang To Dry

Hang your laundry outside instead of using the clothes dryer. You’ll save money on your electric bill and get in a mild arm workout at the same time. As you carry the laundry basket to the clothesline, curl it up and down, bringing your hands to your shoulders. You can also press it overhead, bending and then extending your elbows, to build some extra strength.

Use a Push Mower

Use a push mower rather than a sit-on variety. Even better, opt for a non-powered mower. You’ll save money on gas and do your part to help reduce air pollution. (Next to cars and power plants, lawn mowers are one of the biggest contributors to dirty air.)

Curl Your Groceries

When you arrive home from the grocery store, carry one bag in each hand. As you walk from the car to the kitchen, curl your groceries by lifting your hands toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your sides. By the time you bring in all of the bags of groceries, you’ll have completely fatigued your biceps—and you’ll have burned some extra calories by making the extra trips to and from the car.