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The Librarian Workout

Corin Balkovek

Staff Writer

As a child, Corin tried to find ways to look busy when she was actually reading a book. She still does that, but as a librarian, she has more luck pulling it off.

I was tackling the *super* fun job of shifting books at my library (i.e. moving books from one shelf to the next forever and ever), and my student aide was complaining the whole time:

“Ugh, my arms are so tired!”

“I’m legit sweating!”

“If I knew I’d have to work this hard, I would have been a front office aide!”

And my only response (other than rolling my eyes) was, “Hey man, working in a library isn’t for the weak.”

And it’s true! Not only do you have to be a powerhouse of organization, a master researcher, and part-time mind-reader (“Do you have that book about a guy…you know, the one that is being made into a movie?”), being a librarian takes muscles. Books are heavy! But librarians have a built-in workout in their day-to-day job. If you want to get as ripped as your local book jockey, stop by the library and try out these killer moves.

Bottom Shelf Squats
The book you are looking for is always on the bottom shelf.


  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, with your toes pointed slightly outward.
  • Keeping your spine straight as you move, sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair.
  • Lower down so your thighs are parallel to the floor (or, you know, as close as you can get) with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels.
  • Grab whatever book you were looking for. And while you’re down there, you might as well straighten up the books too.
  • Keeping your body tight, push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.

“Why Is This Book On the Floor, Were You Raised in a Barn?” Deadlifts
No, sure, just leave whatever book you decided not to check out on the ground. Because that’s where it goes.


  • Walk up to the book so it is directly in front of your toes. Sigh, annoyed.
  • Bend over without bending your legs and grab the book with both hands. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  • In one smooth motion, keeping your back straight, raise your torso back up to standing. Mutter something about how people have no manners under your breath.
  • Repeat with all the other books that someone just left on the floor.

    Heavy Book Shelving Overhead Press
    Why do all the books that you need to put away always need to be put on the top shelf?

    • With your feet shoulder-width apart, lift the book to just outside of your shoulder, with arms bent and palm facing towards you.
    • With slow, smooth motions, lift the book up overhead. Don’t lock your elbows!
    • Reshelf the book. While you’re up there, you might as well straighten up the books too.
    • Lower arm slowly.
    • Alternate arms as you re-shelf to get evenly buff on both sides.

    The “I Refuse to Use a Cart” Loaded Carry
    Seriously, where did all the library’s carts go?!?

    via GIPHY

    • With a slight bend in your arms (don’t lock your elbows!) grab the tallest stack of books you can with your hands supporting them at the bottom.
    • With your abdominal muscles tight and your shoulders back, carry the stack of books to wherever they need to go.
    • Try to set down the stack of books carefully, but have them fall over anyway. Question some of the choices you have made.

    The best way to use this librarian workout is to volunteer at your local library. Not only will you be helping out your community, but you will have regular time to complete the moves and get super swole!

    via GIPHY