best strength training exercises for seniors

The Only 5 Strength Training Exercises You Really Need in Your 60s

As you age, you want to keep your body fit, strong, flexible, and mobile. One type of exercise you want to do regularly is strength training.

Strength training can help you build and maintain your body strength as you age. It helps you improve bone density and strengthen ligaments.

This will help you keep your bone healthy and improve mobility and stability and prevent falls.

How Often Should You Do Strength Training?

For best results, the CDC recommends that you do 2 or more days a week of strength training.

This should include full-body workouts that focus on compound exercises.

The five strength training moves in this article work multiple muscles at a time and engages your full body.

For safety, be sure to consult with your doctor or fitness expert before you start to ensure this exercise routine is right for you.

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1. Incline pushup

Incline pushup

Incline pushup is a modified form of a traditional pushup where your upper body is elevated and positioned on a bench or box. 

It’s a full-body workout that mainly targets your chest, core, and arms. It also recruits your legs and glutes o stabilize your body and support the up-down movements. 

By having your upper body elevated, it reduces the amount of resistance and weight you’ll have to endure. This makes the incline pushup a gentler workout than a traditional pushup. 

It’s an excellent variation for older adults looking to rebuild strength and stability. 

Be sure to perform this exercise on a stable surface using a sturdy object. 

Here is how to perform an incline pushup: 

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy object-like bench. Bend down and place your hands on one edge with your fingers pointing forward. Adjust your hands so they are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure the object does not move and your feet won’t’ slip during the exercise. 
  2. Step back with your feet and let your body fully extend to get into a plank position. Engage your core, so your body is aligned from head to heels. Don’t let your back curve or drop. 
  3. Bend your arms to lower your chest toward your hand to perform a pushup. Once you reach the bottom, come back up to the starting high plank position. 
  4. That’s one rep. Repeat 2-3 sets of as many reps as you can do in good form. If you are a beginner, aim for 6-8 reps per set to start. 

2. Squat

Having strong legs and maintaining mobility are crucial to having independence. 

One exercise that excels in strengthening the legs and glutes is the squat

The squat exercise is very effective in working your legs, and glutes, and activating the core. 

It’s also a functional move that mimics everyday movements like lifting things and sitting down. 

Adding a squat to your regular workout routine can help you maintain your mobility as you age. 

Here is how to perform a squat. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and bend at the hips. Hinge back and sit back as you were to sit down on a chair. Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. 
  2. Slowly with control, return to the original position. 
  3. That’s one rep. 

3. Glute Bridge 

If you spend all day sitting or driving, you are bound to have a weak lower back and glutes. Less than stellar posture while sitting can also cause your hip flexors to become tight and inactive. 

Activating those muscles around your glutes is essential in your golden years. It does wonder for strengthening your back, reducing back pain, and improving your mobility. 

The glute bridge exercise is a one-floor exercise you can do at home to activate all your glutes, hamstrings, and back. It’s one exercise that takes care of multiple muscles around the hip joints. 

This exercise is suitable for all fitness levels and no experience is necessary. 

Here is how to perform the glute bridge: 

  1. On a yoga mat, lie on your back with your feet flat and knees bent. Rest your arms on your side with palms facing down. 
  2. Keeping your feet flat, lift your hips off the mat using your glutes and hamstrings. Don’t let your knees cave in as you come up. Pause when your hips are in line with the knees and shoulders. 
  3. Squeeze the glutes on top and return to the starting point. 
  4. That’s one rep. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps. 

4. Dead bugs

Dead bugs

Deadbug is a core and ab exercise that reaches the deep core muscles including the transverse abdominis and spinal erectors. 

It’s a stabilizing workout that strengthens all the muscles in your core that spans between your hips and shoulders. 

As you age, it’s very important to strengthen and activate the muscles that are responsible for movements of your upper and lower body. This exercise helps you keep your entire core strong to promote healthy body movements and coordination. 

It’s also an added benefit that it can help prevent lower back pain and injury. 

The dead bug is an equipment-free, beginner-friendly exercise you can do at home. If your fitness level isn’t quite high enough for more demanding exercise like a plank, this is a great alternative. 

Both exercises are designed to promote core stabilization while challenging the extension of your leg and arm. 

Here is how to perform a dead bug. 

  1. On a yoga mat, lie flat on your back with both of your arms fully extended in front of you (over your chest). Keep them straight and adjust to the line perpendicular to your torso. 
  2. Bend your knees 90-degrees and bring them up so your thighs form a perpendicular angle with the mat. This is the starting position. 
  3. Tighten your core and glutes. Keep your lower back’s contact with the mat and make sure to maintain a neutral spinal position. 
  4. Keep your right leg and left arm where they are. Slowly bring back your right arm above your head while straightening your left leg. With your left heel, reach toward the floor but stop when it is inches off the mat. 
  5. Slowly return to the starting position and switch sides. Repeat the same movement on the other side and complete 8-10 reps per side. 

5. Bird dog

Like the dead bug, the bird dog exercise works your abs and deep core stabilizing muscles. It’s a great bodyweight workout for anyone looking to improve balance, stability, and strength. 

This exercise is also a great practice for improving posture as you familiarize yourself with having a neutral spine. 

The real benefit is in the activation of the entire core that includes spinal muscles, back, hip adductors, and side abs. Together, it’s responsible for stability, range of motion, and mobility. 

Almost every move your body makes either originates or passes through your core. As you age, it’s essential to keep this part of your body strong and healthy for everyday performance. 

The bird dog is a beginner-friendly exercise, but it requires balance. 

If you are unable to maintain good balance by extending both your leg and arm at the same time, start with just an arm or leg. 

Here is how to perform a bird dog. 

  1. Get on all four on a yoga mat with your knees and hands on the floor. Adjust your hands, so they are about shoulder-width apart and knees are about hip-width apart. 
  2. Engage your core and slowly extend the right arm in front of you. At the same time, extend the left leg behind you, forming a straight line from the right hand to the left foot. 
  3. Don’t let your back curve or sag and keep a neutral posture while performing the arm and leg extension. 
  4. Pause for 1-2 seconds and return to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat. That’s one rep. 
  5. Complete 5-8 reps. 

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