Our bodies undergo many changes as we age and our metabolism slows down. This can make it more difficult to stay in shape, especially if your workout routine is based on cardio alone. Strength training is a great way to combat the effects of aging and can help you stay lean and toned well into your 50s and beyond. Here are 10 of the best strength training exercises for women over 50. Give them a try!
Strength training is any activity or exercise that helps build muscle mass and endurance. Activities such as weight lifting and bodyweight exercises are considered strength-training workouts.
However, many other activities, such as cycling or swimming, can help promote muscle mass and strength. So don't be scared when we tell you to go for strength training in your 50s; you don't necessarily have to lift barbells for muscle growth because any activity or exercise challenging your muscles counts!
Strength Training and 50s
As we age, our bodies experience many changes. One of the most common and noticeable changes is sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle mass. This can lead to a decrease in strength, mobility, and overall fitness. And unfortunately, sarcopenia is especially common in women over 50. There are a few reasons for this:
- First, our metabolism slows down as we age, making losing weight harder.
- Second, our testosterone levels decline as we age, further contributing to muscle loss.
- Finally, our bones and joints tend to weaken with age, making it difficult to stay active.
But don't despair!
Adding muscle-building exercises to your routine reduces age-related muscle loss and promotes a healthy body weight. Strength training can significantly improve muscle strength and size. It helps you reduce your body which makes weight loss a lot easier. So if you're looking to stay healthy and active as you age, adding strength training to your fitness is more important than ever.
10 Best Strength Training Exercises for Women Over 50
Here's a carefully curated list of the 10 best exercises to help you gain muscle after the 50s without straining your weak joints and bones.
1. Modified Push-Up
Push-ups build strength in your triceps and pectoral (chest) muscles. It's a great exercise for a stronger and more stable core, allowing you to perform daily activities easily.
- Position yourself on all fours, with your palms and knees firmly on the ground.
- Your gaze should be focused on the floor while your hands are placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your abdominal muscles contracted throughout the exercise for proper form.
- To perform the push-up, slowly lower your chest until your chin grazes the floor, then return to starting position.
- You'll feel the tension in several muscle groups, including arms, shoulders, abs, and legs.
- Keep your back straight throughout the exercise to benefit from this exercise. Don't just try to finish the reps you have in mind. Proper muscle engagement is necessary for desired results.
Squats are a great way to achieve strong and toned legs. They work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes and can be done anywhere. Plus, they're relatively easy to learn how to do.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight, don't slouch.
- Slowly lower yourself into a sitting position until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pause here for a moment before standing back up.
- That's one rep.
- Start with 10 reps and work up to 20 or more.
Once you've mastered the basic squat, you can start experimenting with different variations. Nothing wrong with being creative in your 50s; see what works best for you! Strong legs may be just a squat (or two) away.
3. Full Body Roll-Up
Full body roll-ups work multiple muscle groups, including your core, back, and hamstrings. The exercise stretches your muscles, which benefits your range of motion and overall flexibility.
- Lie on your back with arms extended overhead and legs long. Flex your feet.
- Inhale and lift your arms up as you curl your chin and chest forward.
- Exhale as you roll the entire torso up, keeping your abs engaged until you reach your toes.
- Inhale to begin unrolling down one vertebra at a time; exhale when the upper portion of the back lowers, and arms reach the pack above the head again.
- Repeat slowly, using abdominals rather than momentum to lift/lower yourself.
4. Underhand Grip Double Arm Row
The Underhand Grip Double Arm Row is a great exercise for targeting the back muscles. Backache is very common among aging women, and an exercise like reverse grip double arm row can help alleviate the condition by strengthening back muscles.
- To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Grip the dumbbells with your palms facing away, then bend forward at the hips until your upper body is parallel to the ground.
- From this position, row the barbell up to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- As you row the weight up, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Return to the starting position and repeat as many reps as possible.
Note: Start with lighter weights and let your body adapt to rows with barbells if you are a first-timer. You may want to avoid this exercise altogether if you have existing back issues like herniated discs.
5. Basic Lunges
Lunges target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making them an ideal move for anyone looking to improve their lower body strength. In addition, lunges can also help to improve your balance and coordination.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart to execute a lunge properly.
- Take a large step forward with your right leg, then lower your body until your left knee hovers above the ground.
- Keep your shoulders square and your core engaged throughout the move.
- For an added challenge, you can add weights to your lunge by holding dumbbells in each hand.
- Start with two sets of 10 repetitions on each side and work up to three sets as you build strength.
6. Dumbbell Deadlifts
The Dumbbell Deadlift is a great exercise for targeting your back and leg muscles. It's a compound exercise that engages almost all of your major muscles, making it a perfect exercise and one that strengthens you all over.
- To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
- Then, bend at the hips and knees to lower your body until the dumbbells are at mid-shin level.
- Extend your hips and knees to straighten your back and return to the standing position.
- Engage your glutes as you straighten your back.
- Be sure to keep your back straight, and your core engaged throughout the entire movement.
7. Glute Bridge
The Glute Bridge is a great exercise for strong, toned glutes. Strong glutes mean strong legs and improved functional strength. Leg strengthening exercises are not just good for optimum functional strength; research shows that lower body exercises improve insulin resistance too.
- Start lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground while your knees are bent.
- From here, raise your hips off the ground, contracting your glutes as you do so.
- Keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the exercise.
- Once your hips align with your knees and shoulders, hold before lowering back to the starting position.
- Try doing the glute bridge with one leg raised in the air for added challenge. This variation helps to target the gluteus medius, one of the three muscles that make up the buttocks.
8. Tricep Kick Back
The triceps are large muscles on the back of your upper arms. They help move the elbow, shoulder, and forearm. Strength training exercises that work out the triceps build upper body strength and improve stability in the shoulder joint- both important for daily activities.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other while your knees are bent slightly.
- Engage your core and keep your back straight as you hinge forward at the waist, bringing your upper body almost parallel to the floor.
- Your upper arms should be close to your body, your head should be in line with your spine, and your chin should be tucked in slightly.
- As you exhale, engage your triceps.
- Keep your upper arms still as you move your forearms during this exercise.
- Stop here momentarily, then inhale to return to the starting position.
- Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
9. Bird Dog
Bird dog exercise is a great way to improve balance and stability.
- First, get down on all fours with your hands and knees shoulder-width apart. Raise your right arm and left leg from this position until they align with your back.
- Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
- Engage your abs through the movement.
- Raise your legs as much as possible while keeping your back straight.
- Maintain proper form, and don't be overly concerned about more reps.
10. Overhead Shoulder Press
The overhead shoulder press is a great way to work your shoulders and upper body. You will need a pair of dumbbells for this exercise. It's a simple yet effective exercise for the shoulders and back.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the dumbbells at shoulder level.
- Press the dumbbells overhead, extending your arms until they are straight.
- Pause for a moment to engage your shoulders and back properly.
- Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level and repeat.
1. How much exercise should a 50-year-old woman do?
Women over the age of 50 should aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week, just like other adults. Moderate activity includes activities such as brisk walking or swimming, while vigorous activity includes things such as running.
2. Can you tone your body after 50?
No matter your age, you can always begin working on fitness and toning up your body. Many women past 50 find that eating healthy and exercising helps them look and feel their best. There are customized ways to tone yours depending on what you hope to achieve.
3. Does walking around the house count as exercise?
Walking around your house is a form of exercise, but if you're hoping to improve your health through movement, moderate-intensity exercise is what you should aim for. You may need to pick up the pace of your walk to reach this goal.
The Bottom Line
No matter your age, strength training is crucial for maintaining a healthy body. If you're a woman over 50, it's especially important to add strength-training exercises to your routine to stay strong and independent. While you can do many different exercises, the 10 listed above are some of the best for women over 50.