Build Functional Strength With the Shovel Lift

The shovel challenge is one of the most popular exercises among military personnel and civilians alike. However, it’s not just a way to build muscle mass or burn calories; it’s also a great exercise for developing your mental toughness. You’ll learn how to do the shovel lift with proper form and technique so you can reap all the benefits of this basic but effective workout routine.

What Is A Shovel Lift?

A shovel lift is a basic weight lifting exercise that involves using a heavy object (such as a shovel) to perform multiple reps of the same movement. For example, if you’re doing pull ups, you’d use your hands to grab onto the barbell and then slowly lower yourself down until your arms are straight. Then you would repeat this motion with your feet until they are parallel to the ground.

How To Do The Shovel Lift Exercise Properly

Before you begin the shovel lift, make sure your shoulders are back and your chest up. Your elbows should be tucked into your sides.

Also, keep your body tight while performing this exercise because it will help strengthen certain muscles and joints. If you have any lumps or bumps in between these two points, then those areas will become weaker during the course of the exercise. So don’t worry about them!

Once you’re in position, grab onto your shovel. You can use both hands or just one if that is more comfortable for you.

If you’re using one hand, keep the other one tucked in as close to your body as you can so your elbow stays close to your side. After you’ve got a good grip on it, lift the shovel as high as you can. The higher it is, the more difficult (and more effective) the exercise will be for you. Hold it in the air for a few seconds and then lower it back down as slowly as you can. If you’re using both hands, do the same thing except bring the shovel up with one hand and then bring it back down with the other.

Tip: It’s best to do this exercise in three sections: up, middle, and down.

Remember: Use good form and keep your body tight throughout the entire movement. Also, be sure to breathe normally.

If you can’t do the entire movement without stopping, then lower the weight slightly. If you want an even greater challenge, lift the shovel from shoulder height and then all the way above your head for each rep.

Shovel Lifting Benefits:

This exercise not only helps to strengthen your arms, back, and shoulders, but it also works your core as well. Not to mention that it’s also great for developing your grip strength.

Build Functional Strength With the Shovel Lift - gym fit workout

Not many exercises can claim that! The constant lifting and lowering of a heavy weight really hammers the muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back.

The pluses don’t stop there, though. Your core is engaged throughout the entire movement.

This not only makes your stomach stronger, it also helps to stabilize your spine and balance your body. Think about it, if your core isn’t as strong as it could be, then you’re more likely to suffer an injury because your body isn’t balanced properly.

You’ll also notice that this exercise is great for building grip strength. Even if you try your best to keep a tight grip on the shovel, you’re still going to have some of it start to slip through your fingers.

This is great for your forearms and grip strength in general.

This is a great exercise to do if you’re looking to improve your total body strength. It doesn’t just work your arms or core, but also your shoulders and legs to a lesser extent.

If you really want to build endurance in those areas then combine this exercise with another one that works those muscles.

A great way to do that is to alternate this exercise with barbell rows or squats. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to work the same muscle group too much in a row because it’ll just lead to overtraining and you won’t get as great of a result after your workout.

Don’t Forget To Breathe!

Make sure to take deep breaths as you’re lifting the shovel up and down because if you don’t, it can cause unnecessary strain on your body and even lead to injury. Take a deep breath in through your nose and then forcefully blow it out through pursed lips.

This action will help to stabilize your chest and keep it from being as stressed out.

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Also, try to keep your body as tight as possible. If you’re holding the shovel with both hands, make a fist with your other hand and try to keep it just slightly behind the fist that’s holding the shovel.

Stabilize your shoulders in the same way. If you’re using both hands to lift the shovel, try to keep the other one behind the shovel as it’s being lifted up and down.

As with all of these exercises, if at any point in time you start to feel a sharp pain somewhere or feel like you can’t continue, then stop immediately. You don’t want to do any extra damage because that’ll just set you back even further from your goals.

These tips and guidelines are not set in stone. If you have a little better idea on what you think would be better, then go with what works best for you.

Everyone’s body is different so you’ll have to play around with various techniques to see what works best for you. But, as long as you’re feeling the burn, then you know that your muscles are growing and you’re getting stronger!

Want More Workouts?

If you enjoyed these workouts and want more like it, then I highly recommend the eBook, Muscle Building Workouts. It contains 15 of the best workouts from all of my website and includes workout videos to make sure you’re doing them properly.

Learn more about the ebook by clicking the image below.

Sources & references used in this article:

Demolition shovel by HP Pasquazzi, A Pasquazzi – US Patent 3,567,050, 1971 – Google Patents

Wheel Shovel by ZNBA Yani, A Amirull – 2019 –

Sandbag Training Bible: Functional Workouts To Tone, Sculpt and Strengthen your Entire Body by B Hirshberg – 2015 –

A model for shovel capital cost estimation, using a hybrid model of multivariate regression and neural networks by A Yazdani-Chamzini, EK Zavadskas, J Antucheviciene… – Symmetry, 2017 –

Design and assessment of ergonomics of hand tools based on gender-specific operating strategy: Two case studies on shovels and pruning shears by J Hwang – 2011 –

Heel boom attachment for power shovels by RG Priest – US Patent 2,919,823, 1960 – Google Patents