How Can You Make Life Harder to Boost Your Strength + Fitness?

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Cross-Training, Mindset, Training

After having Juliet and Kelly Starrett on the podcast to talk about their great book, Built to Move, I thought of this post and wanted to bring it back… So… How can you make life ‘harder’ on the daily?

Last week, we camped in the rain. I had grand plans of getting a lot of writing done, but the few days we were in the cold and wet ended up being mostly devoted to organizing gear, cleaning up the campsite, trying to dry off, walking to the washroom and shower, cleaning DW off, et cetera. And that’s not even factoring in the usual camping things: Getting the campsite set up in the first place, figuring out lights, boiling endless amounts of water on a camp stove to cook. Camping is just hard work!

That got us thinking, as our watches and phones informed us that we were crushing our step count before even thinking about our actual training. Is this the kind of thing we can incorporate into everyday life?

In some ways, we already had been doing this in small ways that even we didn’t think about: For instance, we have two dog gates up in our condo that we need to step over many, many times a day (DW has a habit of going up and down steps despite our best intentions, so blocking them is the only way to protect his little dachshund back from too many stairs!). We’ve had these up for a year, and I’m realizing that they’re likely the reason that I’m suddenly much more capable of tracking my knee straight as I run over barriers on a cyclocross course or over logs on a trail run.

That was a way we hadn’t planned to add difficulty to the day, but it worked.

We also do it on purpose with a pullup bar in our bedroom doorway, and both of us do a few pullups each day in addition to a bit of just hanging and engaging core muscles.

While traditional organizational advice is to make things easier—make the things you use regularly in the pantry easy access, et cetera—what if we made those things a teensy bit harder, to add a little bit of extra work and movement? (Note that this shouldn’t be the case if you’re going to, say, make your healthy snacks harder to reach than the tasty treats!)

This is the cliche ‘park further away’ advice, but trying to get even more granular. What can you do to ensure that you have to lift, pull, squat, carry or otherwise engage throughout the day?

On a less strength-training or cardio-based level, can you make things like eating cookies harder by only eating them if you bake them yourself, and only baking a few at a time?

No, this isn’t the stuff that’s going to give you buns of steel or improve your FTP drastically…but it is the stuff that, if incorporated into daily life, may improve your overall mobility and strength and make those healthy gains in the long run. And we know that every little bit helps!


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