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5 Best Strength Training Exercises for Nurses


Being a nurse requires some heavy lifting. You never know when you may need to pick up a box of supplies, move a heavy piece of equipment, or lift a patient. All that physical activity can do a number on your body if you’re not using the proper technique.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, hospital workers face a greater risk of injury than construction workers. Some 48% of reported injuries were a result of “overexertion and bodily reaction,” usually due to improper lifting techniques, and 54% of sick days are caused by sprains and strains, according to the agency’s latest findings.

That’s why it’s important to improve your physical strength over time. The more you can comfortably lift, the easier your shift will be.

Use these five essential exercises to improve your core strength:

The Squat

The squat is considered the king of all exercises because it works just about every muscle in the body, including the legs, back, and glutes. You can start by doing squats without any weights pretty much wherever you happen to be, including at home or in the breakroom. Go slow to maintain perfect posture. Your knees and toes should be aligned, and your back should be arched. You can gradually add more weight as you improve your technique.


This move will definitely come in handy on the job, especially if you find yourself bending over to pick up items off the floor. It works the glutes, legs, and core muscles. Just like the squat, you can start with no weights and slowly increase as you build up strength. Both exercises are extremely versatile. You can do them anywhere you have access to a flat surface. You can also try holding weights in different positions. Keep the weight close to your body during the exercise.

Single-Leg Deadlift

Another great move to get the glutes, legs and core moving. Keep one leg straight while lifting the other leg behind you as you slowly reach down and touch the floor. Return to the normal position and repeat. You can try lifting a light barbell off the floor once you get the hang of it. It will also help you build up your balance and stability to reduce the chances of slips and falls.

Dumbbell Row

Perfect for building up your arms, back, and upper body strength, the dumbbell row will get your heart pumping. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your back arched. Use a small dumbbell to start and pull the weight in towards your body before returning to the original position.

Overhead Triceps Extensions

The triceps are the largest muscles in the arms, but they often get overlooked in favor of bicep curls. This move will help you build up additional strength on the back of your arms, which will help you push items away, such as a heavy cart or gurney. It will even tone up areas that tend to sag with aging, so you can work up the confidence to go sleeveless when you’re not at work. Use a small weight to start and keep your elbows tucked into your head as much as possible to make sure you are working the triceps as you slowly extend and return to the original position.

Consider hitting a gym near you or signing up for a personal training session to learn more about perfecting your posture. Your body will thank you in the long run. You will be lifting equipment and patients like no one’s business. Head to Renegade for fitness training in San Diego

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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