It’s a total misconception that getting older means becoming weak and fragile. PSA: You can stay strong no matter how old you get. One of the best ways to keep your muscles and bones strong if you’re 50 or older is through strength training.
Also called resistance or strength training, this type of workout uses resistance to build muscular strength. “Strength training is extremely beneficial at any age due to the imminent risk of bone and muscle loss. [It] not only keeps your bones dense, but also keeps your connective tissue strong to support your bones,” says Heather Lachance, CPT, CES, FNS, a certified corrective exercise specialist, women’s fitness specialist, and the owner of Made Possible Personal Training in St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition to building muscular strength, Lachance explains that resistance training strengthens the brain, central nervous system and heart. “Aging is not avoidable, but how we age is,” she says.
Here, Lachance gives a simple workout crafted specifically for people 50 and older that can be done in the comfort of your own home. “A simple resistance workout for people 50 and older should touch all your joints. With complex movements we are able to do this while not only training our muscles but our balance and coordination as well,” Lachance says. Keep reading to see the workout and bookmark this page so you can follow it when you’re ready to do it.
The Easiest No-Equipment Workout Routine if You’re Over 50, According to a Personal Trainer
Lachance recommends squats because it’s a move that comes in handy in everyday life, such as when watering your plants or reaching for something you dropped. To do this workout move, she says to start with bodyweight squats of a comfortable depth, possibly to a couch or kitchen chair. “Aim for a repetition range that challenges you but does not bring you to total failure,” she says. “Once you feel as though that rep range has become easier, either increase your rep range or add an external load such as a dumbbell to make sure you are challenging your muscles to activate the muscle and stimulate growth.”
You don’t need to get on the floor to do push-ups; Lachance says that they can also be done using an object that’s up to your hip or rib cage, such as a kitchen counter or the back of the couch. “When performing a push-up, remember to keep your body stiff so that your hips do not sage or push back,” she says. “Try to create full range of motion by lowering your chest all the way down to the object before pushing back off.” She says to keep elbows at a 45-degree angle. Lachance says to keep doing reps until you feel you can only do between two and four more. Up the number of push-ups you do over time, as it becomes easier.
3. Hip thrusts from the floor
“We need strong booties and hamstrings to push us forward and keep us grounded,” Lachance says. To do a hip thrust from the floor, lie down on your back with your feet on the ground and knees bent. Push through your feet as you squeeze your butt and drive your hips off the ground. Lachance says to remember to keep your spine straight and shoulders on the ground. She says to aim for between 10 and 20 repetitions, increasing the number or speed when it starts to get easier, over time.
To do a plank, place your hands on the ground directly below your shoulders and balance on your toes; your legs should be about hip-width apart. Your neck and spine should be neutral and your core should be engaged. Lachance says to hold the plank between 20 and 30 seconds, increasing the timeframe as it becomes easier over time. You can also do a plank by placing your forearms on the ground, which is slightly easier.
The final move in this resistance workout is pull-aparts. It’s the only move that requires an extra tool—preferably a resistance band, but if you don’t have one, you can use a T-shirt or towel instead. “Pull-aparts target your posture muscles in your mid-back, helping to reduce tightness in the front of the shoulder and chest,” Lachance says.
To do it, hold your resistance band with one end in each hand, shoulder height and about shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be about hip-width apart and your knees should be slightly bent. Then, squeeze your upper back to pull the band wider before coming back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times, increasing the number of reps over time as it becomes easier.
How Often To Do This 5-Step Resistance Workout
While Lachance says that it’s recommended to move your body every day, you don’t need to do resistance training every single day to benefit from it. She says that doing this workout three times a week is enough.
If you stick with it, Lachance says that you’ll notice yourself becoming stronger in your daily movements. “Walking up and down stairs will become easier with a stronger heart and stronger legs,” she says. She adds that you can also expect your balance to improve. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling more confident too. “Resistance training changes people’s confidence,” Lachance explains. “They start to walk taller, trusting themselves and believing in themselves. What better result could you ask for than moving better and better self-confidence?”
In the personal training studio she owns, Lachance says she is seeing more people in their 80s and 90s jumping, skipping, slamming balls and lifting heavy weights. “Just because we are aging doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be working hard, especially if we want to continue to move and groove like we used to,” she says.
As you can see from this workout, resistance training doesn’t have to be hard, time-consuming or involve expensive equipment. Do this workout a few times a week and you’ll notice a difference, both now and in the years to come.
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