Chris Freytag, a certified personal trainer in her 50s, knows from personal experience that exercise keeps you feeling and looking younger and physically slows down the aging process.
Moreover, the CDC emphasizes that strength and resistance training is a safe, effective way to improve body composition and increase muscle mass, which helps prevent muscle loss (also known as sarcopenia) once you reach your 60s and 70s. Strength training can also fight against the frailty and weakness that come with aging.
The good news? It’s never too late (or too early) to start!
The following are 10 strength training moves that promote healthy aging and help keep your body strong and mobile.
1. Basic Squat
Here’s how to perform a basic squat:
Stand tall with your feet hip-width distance apart. Hips, knees, and toes all pointing forward.
Bend your knees and sit your butt back as if you are going to sit in a chair. Keep your weight equally in both heels and allow your knees to stay behind your toes.
Hit the bottom of your squat, pause, and then rise back up to stand and repeat the full exercise.
Muscles Targeted: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Core
2. Modified Push-Up On Knees
Here’s how to perform a modified push-up:
Begin in a kneeling position with your hands below your shoulders and knees back behind your hips.
Keep your gaze in front of your fingertips so your neck stays long, squeeze your glutes and inner thighs together, keeping the lower body active.
Slowly lower yourself to the ground, keeping your elbows back at about a 45-degree angle.
Press yourself back up to the starting position
Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions
Advancement to this Exercise: Once you have mastered the modified push-up, try a full push-up from your toes. Begin in a high plank position, hands stacked underneath the shoulders, legs long behind you. Lower your chest to the floor, with your elbows pointing slightly back until you are just above the ground. As you exhale, tighten your belly and push yourself back up to a plank position.
Muscles Targeted: Upper Body, Chest, Back, Shoulders, Biceps and Triceps, and even your Core.
3. Reverse Grip Double Arm Row
Here’s how to perform a reverse grip double arm row:
Start this exercise with your legs together and sit back into a small squat; engaging the glutes and abdominal wall. Arms will be stretched out in front of the body holding the weights with the palms facing the ceiling.
Drawing your elbows back by squeezing your upper back muscles together, pull the elbows gently past the hips so you feel the lats and triceps engage and return to the starting position with control.
Options: Start with a lighter set of weights and focus on slow-controlled movements. Take a 3-second pause at the top of the range of motion and slowly return to the starting position. Once you’ve mastered lighter weights with a slow and controlled pace, grab a set of heavier weights and try completing a few more repetitions.
Muscle Groups Targeted: Upper Body, Triceps, Back, and Shoulders
4. Full Body Roll-Up
Here’s how to perform a full-body roll-up:
Start lying on a mat (or the floor) with your arms extended overhead, legs long, and feet flexed towards your face.
Inhale as you lift your arms up and begin curling your chin to your chest. Exhale as you roll the entire torso up and over, keeping your legs straight, abs engaged, reaching down towards the toes.
Inhale as you begin to roll back down your spine, one vertebra at a time, and exhale as the upper portion of the back lowers to the ground, reaching your arms back overhead.
Repeat moving slowly and using the abdominals to lift and lower, not using momentum.
Muscle Groups Targeted: Core, Shoulders, and Back
5. Dumbbell Deadlift
Here’s how to perform a dumbbell deadlift:
Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart and weights facing towards the front of your thighs.
Tighten your abdominals and keep a flat back as you bring a soft bend through the knees, lowering the dumbbells towards the floor.
Send your butt backward with a slight hip hinge, squeeze the glutes, and use your hamstrings to lift and return to your upright position.
Muscle Groups Targeted With This Exercise: Hamstrings and Glutes
Here’s how to hold a forearm plank:
Begin by lying on the floor with your forearms flat on the ground. Your elbows should be aligned directly below your shoulders. Hands should be separated by the width of your elbows.
Engage your core, press down through your elbows, and raise your body up off the floor, keeping your body in a straight line from your head down to your feet. Pull your navel into your spine and squeeze your glutes to keep your hips aligned with your shoulders.
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Muscle Groups Targeted: Core, Shoulders, Back
7. Single-Leg Hamstring Bridge
Here’s how to perform a single-leg hamstring bridge:
Lie on your back with bent knees both hip-width distance apart. Your feet will be flat on the mat stacked underneath your knees. Once in a bridge position, extend your right leg long towards the ceiling.
Squeezing your glutes and lower body and then lifting your hips off of the mat into a bridge. Lower and lift the hips for a desired number of reps and then repeat the exercise on the left leg.
Muscle Groups Targeted: Hamstrings, Glutes, and Quads
8. Tricep Kickbacks
Here’s how to perform a tricep kickback:
Start with your feet together (or hip-width distance apart), sit back into a slight squat with arms bent at 90-degree angles, and weights at the sides of the chest.
Press the dumbbells back past the hips, keeping the line from your shoulder to your elbow joint stable and only finding movement from the elbow joint to the dumbbell.
Return back to the starting position with weights at 90 degrees.
9. Shoulder Overhead Press
Here’s how to perform a shoulder overhead press:
Start with your feet hip-width distance apart. Bring your elbows out to the side, creating a goal post position with your arms. Elbows will be straight out from shoulder height, and abs held in tight.
Press dumbbells straight overhead until your arms are straight. Slowly return to starting position (goal post arms) with control.
Muscle Groups Targeted: Shoulders, Core
10. Bird Dog
How to perform bird dog:
Kneel on a mat (or any soft surface) on all fours
Reach one arm long, drawing in the abdominals, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
Hold, engage your lower body for 5-10 seconds, and return to all fours.
Repeat on the other side.
Muscles Groups Targeted: Abdominals and Lower Back
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