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While everyone can benefit from lifting weights, older adults can reap even more benefits, giving you a stronger, healthier body. Having a strong body helps you avoid injuries, falls, pain, and other issues associated with getting older.

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You will gradually lose muscle mass as you age if you don’t do anything to maintain it.

When you keep or gain more muscle, you may actually live longer and you’ll certainly have a better quality of life.

This total body workout is a great way for older adults to get started with strength training. The exercises focus on building total-body strength with an emphasis on improving balance, stability, and flexibility.

Getting Started

The key to starting weight training, if you’re new to it or it’s been a long time, is to gradually ease into lifting weights. Lifting weights can cause soreness, which is normal, but it shouldn’t cause too much pain or discomfort.

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any pain, injuries or other conditions you’re dealing with. Take your time with the moves and only add weights or resistance when you feel comfortable with the exercises.

Equipment Needed

Various weighted dumbbells, an exercise ball, a resistance band, a medicine ball, a chair, and a step, or staircase.

How to Do Body Strength Workout

  • Begin with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up of light cardio (walking in place, etc.).
  • Perform each exercise as shown for 1 set, using no weight or light weights to get used to the exercises. Weights are suggested for each exercise but modify them according to your fitness level and goals. Focus on your form at first. It’s better to go light on the weights in the beginning.
  • To progress, add a set each week until you’re doing a total of 3 sets of each exercise with 30 seconds of rest in between each set.
  • Do this workout one or two nonconsecutive days a week, taking at least one day of rest between workouts.
  • If you do feel very sore, give yourself extra rest days as needed and back off during the next workout.

Chair Squat

A squat is a movement we do all day, getting up and down from chairs, in and out of our cars, and more. Practicing this move with good form will help you build strength in the hips, glutes, and thighs.

  1. Stand in front of a chair with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend the knees. Send the hips back and the arms straight out in front of you to balance.
  3. Sit all the way down and, as soon as you make contact with the chair, stand back up.
  4. Try to stand up without rocking back or using momentum. Instead, put the weight on your heels and push into the floor to stand up.
  5. Repeat for 12 reps.

Modifications

  • Easier: You can also place your hands on your thighs for support or sit next to a rail if you need more support in standing up.
  • Harder: Hold weights in your hands for added intensity.

Knee Lifts With a Med Ball

This move is great for working on upper body endurance as well as balance and stability.

  1. Hold a light weight or medicine ball (2 to 5 pounds) in both hands, straight up over your head.
  2. Lift the right knee up to waist level while bringing the arms down, touching the weight or the ball to the knee.
  3. Lower the right knee and take the ball all the way up.
  4. Now lift the left knee to hip level, bringing the ball down to the knee.
  5. Return to start and repeat, alternating sides.
  6. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

If you have back or knee problems, you may want to avoid the upper body portion of the move and just do the knee lifts.

Modifications

  • Easier: You can use no weight at all or just hold the weight at chest level as you lift the knees.
  • Harder: You can add intensity by speeding the movement up, while still maintaining control of the weight and your body. and lifting the knees as high as you can.

Side Leg Lifts

This move improves your balance as well as strengthening both legs. The standing leg has to use more stabilizer muscles to keep your body stable and the lifting leg helps you build strength in the hips and glutes.

You can use a resistance band around the ankles for more intensity or do it without any resistance.

  1. Stand sideways to a chair or wall for support and tie a resistance band around your ankles (optional). You can also use light ankle weights as well, 1 to 5 pounds.
  2. Shift the weight into the right leg and lift the left leg out to the side, foot flexed and hips, knees and feet in alignment. The toes should be facing the front of the room.
  3. Try to lift the leg without tilting at the torso—hold the torso upright as you lift the leg a few inches off the ground.
  4. Lower back down and repeat for 12 reps on each leg.
Lat Pulls With Bands

This move strengthens the lat muscles on either side of the back that you use every day for pulling movements like opening doors or picking things up.

  1. Stand or sit holding a resistance band in both hands up over your head.
  2. Your hands should be wider than shoulder-width so that there is tension on the band. You may need to adjust your hands to change the tension.
  3. Make sure your back is flat and your abs are engaged.
  4. Keep the left hand in place and contract the muscles on the right side of your back to pull the elbow down towards the rib cage.
  5. Press back up and repeat for 12 reps on the right side.
  6. Switch sides and do 12 reps on the left side.
Bicep Curls

This exercise strengthens your biceps, muscles that you use every day when you carry things, open doors, or pick things up.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and hold dumbbells in each hand. Suggested weight: 5 to 8 pounds for women, 8 to 15 pounds for men. Alternatively, you can use a kettlebell as shown.
  2. With your palms facing out, contract the biceps and curl the weight up towards your shoulder. Try not to move the elbow as you curl the weights up.
  3. Lower the weight back down, but keep a slight bend in the elbow at the bottom. Don’t swing the weight and keep the elbows static as you curl the weights.
  4. Repeat for 12 reps.

Triceps Extension

The triceps work hard every time you do any kind of pushing movement, so you want both sides of the arm to be strong and balanced.

  1. Sit or stand and hold a medicine ball or weight in both hands. Suggested weight: 4 to 10 pounds for women, 8 to 15 pounds for men.
  2. Take the weight straight up overhead, with your arms straight and next to the ears.
  3. Slowly bend your elbows, taking the weight back behind the head until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle.
  4. Squeeze the arms to pull the weight back to start without locking the elbows.
  5. Repeat for 12 reps, keeping the back straight and the abs in.

Incline Push Up

Push-ups work the upper body and this version allows you to gradually ease into push-ups using a wall rather than doing them on the floor.

  1. Stand a few feet away from a wall or stair rail and tilt forward, back flat and abs in.
  2. Place the hands on the wall at chest level, wider than the shoulders.
  3. Pull the abs in and, keeping the back straight, bend elbows and lower body towards the wall until elbows are at 90-degree angles.
  4. Push back to start and repeat.
  5. The farther away from the wall you are, the harder the exercise. Make sure you don’t sag in the middle. Keep the abs tight and the back flat.
  6. Repeat for 12 reps.
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