Top 3 Exercises for Caregivers: Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press

I’m a certified personal trainer who had a few “extreme caregiving” stints with my senior mother, and if I had to recommend only three exercises to yield unbelievable energy and strength, it would be the Big Three: Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press.

However, the deadlift, squat and bench press are the very exercises that few women, who already go to the gym, actually do! The squat, deadlift and bench are the three most important exercises for anybody, caregiver or not, yet get bypassed by most women because, why?

Before I explain that, I will explain the benefits of the squat, deadlift and bench for caregivers.

Caregiving often involves a lot of lifting of the patient. Sometimes the patient’s weight is amplified because the patient’s body won’t cooperate. For example, when my mother began passing out while she was standing, her legs would become rigid and thus, they would not softly fold under her as I gently lowered her to the floor on her behind.

If I continued holding her upright, she would not regain consciousness, so I had to lower her to the floor or ground on her bottom and lean her back to an almost horizontal position. I was doing this frequently, and the deadlift and squat come into play here.

After she regained consciousness, she was weak and I had to get her to her feet: a hybrid deep squat and deadlift of 135 pounds.

As a caregiver, you should not only be able to move the patient, but be able to do so with ease and thus, confidence, so as not to endanger the patient. When a caregiver is physically fit enough, not only does this greatly benefit the patient, but the caregiver becomes immune to sickness themselves.

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The only “sickness” I had, during my four months of rehabbing my mother through quintuple bypass surgery, pacemaker implant, the complication of severe orthostasis, and two brain bleed drainings, were several days of headaches and skipped menstruation. Thanks to squats, deadlifts and bench presses (and other exercises), I always had plenty of energy on standby.

Caregivers can experience high levels of energy if they work out intensely and focus on the big three: deadlift, squat and bench press. There IS time. I somehow found it, even though my father was not able to help much due to having back surgery nine days before my mother’s bypass surgery.

If you aren’t yet a caregiver, assume you’ll one day be a caregiver. Don’t wait till then to start doing the deadlift, squat and bench press. And don’t make excuses not to perform these big three exercises. They hit ALL the major muscle groups and work several joints at once — which is exactly what a caregiver does when moving the patient.

Don’t waste time on the dumbbell kickbacks and machines that isolate the triceps and biceps. The caregiver’s muscles do not move in isolation when moving the patient!

Why don’t most women do the big three? They think they’ll get big muscles and/or they’re intimidated by the intricacies of the squat and deadlift. Mastering form is accomplished in small steps, beginning with a wooden rod, if necessary.

For more information on the big three — squat, deadlift and bench press, check out these articles: