Lifting and carrying heavy groceries, though difficult for a de-conditioned woman, does not count as strength training.

If it did, every mom out there who shops for her kids would have visible muscle development. I don’t mean big muscles, but the look of toned arms.

Even a moderately overweight woman who has weight-trained muscles will look a lot different than if she wasn’t strength training (e.g., barbells, kettlebells, cable equipment).

When I was a personal trainer, my overweight female clients who were committed to their regimen had a flattering firmness and trained appearance.


Lifting and carrying heavy groceries (or even light) is, from a technical or Webster’s dictionary standpoint, a form of weightlifting.

But do not equate the meaning of “weightlifting” with “strength training.”

If I gather the handles of two full paper grocery bags in each hand (four bags total) and carry them to my car, I just lifted weights.

But I did not strength train. Nor does this count towards my strength training regimen.

“Strength training certainly will make it easier to carry groceries, but carrying groceries is not strength training in and of itself,” says Dr. Tom Carpenter, corrective exercise specialist, certified personal trainer and chiropractor, inventor of Stand Corrected™, a portable harness-like stretching tool that helps alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain.

“Training implies an exercise regimen designed to improve strength and flexibility symmetrically throughout the body,” continues Dr. Carpenter.

“Simply carrying heavy groceries of uneven weight does not  provide these benefits.”

Ask Yourself this Question

If you believe that carrying groceries counts towards strength training (not “lifting weights”), then why don’t you look like women who seriously strength train at the gym?

Okay, maybe you have extra layers of fat that are hiding your trained muscles.

But your muscles aren’t in a trained state if your only form of weightlifting is the groceries (plus other miscellaneous, episodic lifts such as carrying a sick child).

If you do no formal strength training – be it with tension bands, dumbbells, heavy balls or cable machines – and you believe that carrying the groceries counts as strength training – then why aren’t you as strong as women who strength train?

  • Why aren’t you strong at all? Can you do pushups?
  • Do you find yourself asking the men in the house to carry things for you or unscrew jar lids?
  • Do you wipe out quickly upon carrying a vacuum cleaner up the staircase or lifting your aged 80 pound dog into the car?

Carrying groceries is a part of just about every woman’s life. I’ve seen women who appear to be in very poor physical condition carrying grocery bags. It’s a task that needs to be done.

Do not think for a moment that carrying groceries – even if you do this several times a week for your large family – goes towards the benefits of strength training.

Again, it’s the other way around: If your body is well-trained from strength workouts (barbells, kettlebells, tension bands, bodyweight movements like pushups, etc.), then carrying the heaviest grocery bags will be a breeze.

dr. carpenter

Photo credit: Aleesia Forni

Based upon 30+ years of experience, Dr. Carpenter’s practice approach reflects his belief that restoring optimum health and function will enable his patients to enjoy a much greater amount of vitality and wellness. Chiropractic care is true health care, not sick care!
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 
Top image: Healthy, Freepik.comnensuria