Starting from the age of 30, our body starts to lose muscle mass if we’re not actively working out.
As we get older, we might find ourselves becoming more sedentary and less active than before. Our body then realizes that we aren’t as active anymore, so it decides to lose muscles since it thinks that you don’t need them.
Over time, the amount of muscle mass in your body becomes lesser and lesser.
But, how does that affect you?
Having a good amount of muscle mass will not only make you stronger, but it could improve your balance, speed up your metabolism, help you lose weight, look younger and feel confident.
Hence, if you want to slow down the aging process, you definitely want to start building more muscles instead of losing them.
And to build more muscles, you need to start doing strength training! This is where the true anti-aging magic happens.
Before diving into the 9 best strength training exercises for women over 50, let’s address this one question.
Is It Important to Strength Train After 50?
Yes, it’s important! Those who do strength training often will have a strong, toned body and often look younger. Having a stronger body means you get to stay independent for many years.
You can go through your daily activities such as lifting your grandchildren, carrying groceries, climbing stairs, or just enjoy fun activities without being limited physically as you age.
There are many important benefits for strength training over 50 that include:
Prevents Muscle Loss
Regular strength or resistance training is great for people over 50 because it will help prevent the loss of muscle mass that is caused by aging (the medical term is sarcopenia).
Increases Bone Density
According to Harvard, strength training slows down bone loss, and several studies even show that it builds bone. That’s because activities that put stress on bones can nudge bone-forming cells into action. Denser bones will make stronger and prevent you from falling!
Improves Balance and Mobility
Strength training forces your body to work in an unbalanced state which improves your overall balance and coordination.
When you are healthy, strong and able to move freely, you will naturally feel more confident in yourself. Studies have also shown that exercise helps to fight depression and improves brain function that makes you feel better.
Speeds Up Metabolism
Lifting weights leads to more muscles, and they help burn calories even when you’re at rest.
Reduces Body Fat
If you have too much body fat, strength training will help you lose those fat so you can maintain a healthy weight!
Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases
Research shows that doing strength or resistance training will reduce risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and heart diseases.
9 Best Strength Training Moves for Women Over 50
This workout requires only your body weight and a set of dumbbells. Choose the dumbbell weight that you’re comfortable working with. Go a little heavier if it’s too easy for you!
Target Muscle Groups: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings and Core
How to do Squats:
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your hips, knees, and toes are all pointing forward.
- Bend your knees and sit your butt back slowly (you can count from 1 to 4) as if you’re going to sit on an invisible chair. Keep in mind to distribute your weight equally in both heels and make sure your knees are behind your toes.
- Once you hit the bottom of your squat, then stand back up slowly (count from 1 to 4 as well!).
- Repeat for 20 times.
Tips: You can use a chair as an added safety when you do your squats, but that does not mean you can sit on it purposely!
Here’s also a great tutorial if you need more guidance:
2. Knee Push-Ups
Target Muscle Groups: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Arms and Core
How to do Knee Push-Ups:
- Start in a kneeling position with both of your hands on the floor and slightly wider than your shoulders’ width. Always keep your knees back behind your hips.
- Keep your neck long, engage your glutes and inner thighs so your lower body is active too.
- Gently lower yourself to bring your chest towards the ground. As you do this, keep your elbows back at a 45-degree angle.
- Push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for 20 times or the amount that you’re comfortable with.
Once you have mastered the knee push-ups, you can try the full push-up version. Instead of your knees touching the floor, only your toes will be touching the floor for the full version. Then, proceed to do the number of times that you can and improve on it slowly.
However, if even the knee push-up is too hard for you. You can try doing wall push-ups which are much easier!
Here is a simple tutorial on wall push-ups:
3. Roll Ups
This exercise will be done slowly, so take your time and don’t rush!
Target Muscle Groups: Abdominals, Shoulders and Back
How to do Roll Ups:
- Begin by lying down on the ground (you can use a yoga mat for a more comfortable workout!). Extend your arms overhead, flex your feet and straighten your legs.
- Inhale and lift your arms up. Start with curling your chin to your chest and exhale as you roll the entire torso up to reach towards your toes. Make sure to keep your abs engage and legs straight all the time.
- Inhale and begin to roll back down your spine, one vertebra at a time. Exhale as the upper portion of your back starts to reach the ground. Slowly, reaching your arms back overhead.
- Repeat 8 times. Remember to do it slowly and without using momentum.
4. Glute Bridge
Target Muscle Groups: Glutes, Hamstrings and Quads
How to do Glute Bridge:
- Begin with lying down on your back, bend your knees and feet flat on the mat or floor. Both knees are hip-width distance apart and feet placed directly underneath your knees.
- Squeeze your glutes and at the same time, lift your hips up to enter the bridge position. Make sure your core and glutes are engaged.
- Exhale once you reach the top. Then, lower your hips back down until your lower back kisses the ground.
- Lift the hips and repeat for 20 times.
If you need more guidance, here’s a video tutorial for the Glute Bridge!
5. Dumbbell Deadlifts
Target Muscle Groups: Hamstrings and Glutes
How to do Dumbbell Deadlifts:
- Begin with standing slightly wider than hip-width distance apart.
- Keep a flat back, tighten your core and slightly bend your knees.
- With your dumbbells facing towards the front of your thighs, lower the dumbbells towards the floor. As you lower yourself down, squeeze the glutes and send your butt backward slightly.
- lift your torso up using your hamstrings and return to an upright position.
6. Forward Lunge with Bicep Curl
Target Muscle Groups: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, and Biceps
How to do Forward Lunge with Bicep Curl:
- Begin by standing hip-width distance apart. While holding the dumbbells, take a large step forward with one foot and lower the knee of the other foot towards the ground. Make sure to lower your knee until both legs are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- While going down, release the bicep curl and straighten your hands.
- Push off the front foot to return to the standing position. At the same time, bring the weights in towards your shoulders to perform the bicep curl. The next time you go down again, release the bicep curl and straighten your hands.
- Perform the same steps on the other foot.
- Repeat for 20 times.
7. Triceps Kickback
Target Muscle Groups: Triceps and Core
How to do Triceps Kickback:
- Begin with standing your feet hip-width distance apart, sit your hips back into a slight squat, and bend your waist slightly forward.
- Lift your elbows and keep them a little above the waist. Make sure your arms are bent at 90-degree angles, and both hands holding dumbbells at the sides of the chest.
- Press the dumbbells back past the hips, extending your arms until they’re straight.
- Bend your elbows back so that your arms are bent at 90-degree angles again.
- Repeat for 20 times. Try to focus your movement only from the elbow joint to the dumbbell.
8. Standing Shoulder Press
Target Muscle Groups: Shoulders and Triceps
How to do Standing Shoulder Press:
- Begin with standing your feet hip-width distance apart. Bring your arms out to the side with your elbows bent at a 90-degrees angle. Keep your elbows in line with your shoulders and tighten your core.
- Press the dumbbells straight overhead, extending your arms upwards until they’re straight.
- Slowly return to starting position (elbows bent at 90-degrees angles).
- Repeat this for 2 sets of 12 times.
If you need more guidance, here is a video tutorial on Dumbbell Shoulder Press:
9. Forearm Plank
Target Muscle Groups: Abdominals, Shoulder, Chest, Back, Arms and Legs.
How to do Forearm Plank:
- Begin with your forearms flat on the ground, and shoulders directly over your elbows. Ensure that your hips are in line with your back and legs (meaning you should form a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head!).
- Press down your elbows and hold your body for 1 minute.
- Remember to engage your core and squeeze your glutes if you feel your hips are dropping! This will keep your hips in line with your back.
If the forearm plank is too hard for you, you can either break it down into 2 sets of 30 seconds or do the knee forearm plank instead. The knee forearm plank is an easier modification in which you drop down your knees and focus only on your forearms and core.
Here is the tutorial for the easier version – Knee Forearm plank:
Should I Strength Train After 50?
CDC guideline shows that everyone should perform muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. This applies to anyone in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s!
So, strength training is definitely safe for even women over 50!
However, there are a few things you need to know before getting started:
- First of all, consult your doctor to check if you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries before attempting to change your exercise regimen dramatically.
- Always, always, always perform a dynamic warm-up before starting your strength training session! The more we age, the more our body needs to warm up.
- If you haven’t been doing any strength training for a long time, your body may need some time to adapt. Start slow and take it easy. Allow your joints, muscle and tissues to adjust to your increased activity.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated!
- Muscle fatigue is good, but muscle pain is not! If you feel something hurts, you should stop.
- Lastly, remember to end your muscle-strengthening workout with a cool-down stretch. Strength training aims to break down your muscle fibers so that they can rebuild later and become even stronger. By performing post-workout stretching, it will help improve muscle recovery, decrease muscle soreness and prevents injury.
The Good News
To have a vibrant and independent for many more years, we can beat the odds by doing strength or resistance training consistently.
This way, your body will maintain the muscles throughout your life.
So, grab a pair of dumbbells and start doing these strength training exercises for women over 50 today!
If you’re over 50 and haven’t been doing any strength training, it’s not too late to start!
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