8 Strength Training Moves Women Over 50 Should Do

Fitness, Lifestyle, Menopause, Strength Workouts, Total Body Workouts, Workouts by Type

By: // March 11, 2019

While aging is inevitable, aging well is not. There are many factors involved in maintaining good physical and mental health as you age.

For instance, eating clean, healthy food keeps your mind and body strong. Second, it has been shown that staying active and engaged in your every day life—whether it’s work, volunteering,  or participating in a group activity of some kind—helps you find a purpose for each day and energy to keep going strong.

But one of the most important things to consider as you grow older is exercise. Exercise not only keeps you feeling and looking younger, but actually physically slows down the aging process.

And while exercise comes in many forms, strength training is where the true anti-aging magic happens. If you’re over 50 and haven’t been strength training, it’s not too late to start.

According to the MLTJ (Muscle, Ligament and Tendon Journal), the aging process is defined as “changes in muscle mass and strength with decline of muscle strength after the 30th year of life.”

That’s the definition of the aging process? Wow! In other words, a decrease in muscle is a huge part of what makes you age.

Did it surprise you to learn that we begin to lose muscle mass as young as age 30?

The good news is you can beat the odds! Strength training to build and maintain muscle is going to slow down the aging process and make you look and feel younger.

Let’s explore some benefits of strength training and then the specific strength training moves women over 50 should do.

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Benefits of Strength Training After 50

Woman over 50 holding dumbbells and squatting in living room for strength training session

In addition to slowing down the overall aging process, strength training after 50 offers several amazing benefits you won’t want to miss out on.

According to Tufts University, strength training will reduce the risks and symptoms of several health problems.

Strength Training Over 50 Reduces Your Risk Of:

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • obesity
  • back pain
  • depression
    Benefits of strength training

Amazing, right? And this is simply a list of things strength training can help avoid.

Beyond that, there is so much strength training actually does to keep our bodies healthy as we age. Let’s explore what those are!

1. Builds Muscle Mass

Building mass sounds like you are making yourself bigger or bulking up like a body builder. This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what strength training does.

Put it this way: a pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh the same, but a pound of muscle takes up MUCH LESS space than a pound of fat!

Those who lift weights and strength train end up with bodies that are more tight and compact and wear smaller clothes. Of course, appearance is likely the least most important part of this benefit.

Being stronger means you are able to stay independent and strong for life’s daily activities such as carrying groceries, lifting grandchildren, pushing a lawn mower or engaging in fun things like golf or other sports.

2. Builds Bone Density

Unexpected falls put countless older people in the hospital every year. In fact, according to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older Americans.

If you break your arm playing high school football, you’re likely to return to the field in about 8 weeks. If you break a leg while downhill skiing in your 20’s, you’ll be sidelined for a time but most likely back to the slopes sooner than you think.

It doesn’t work that way for an older person. The ramifications of broken bones can be devastating.

Strength training helps.

First and foremost many studies have shown that strength training increases bone mineral density itself. But beyond that, by strengthening the muscle and connective tissue that surrounds your bones,  you are making yourself stronger overall and helping to prevent the fall from happening in the first place.

Plus, if you should fall for other reasons, your strong muscles and connective tissue will protect your bones and make a break less likely to happen.

3. Decreases Body Fat

Middle aged woman lifting weights.

Too much body fat isn’t good for you at any age. Not only is it harder to move when you carry that extra weight around, but maintaining a healthy weight is important when it comes to preventing many of the diseases listed above that come with aging.

In addition, body fat is both external and internal. The external is the stuff we see. The internal is the dangerous fat.

It surrounds your organs, pumps out unwanted hormones, and increases inflammation in your body. None of this means you should aim for “skinny”.

A healthy amount of body fat is both good and necessary. Too much, however, is not.

Healthy is the goal.

3. Help Avoid Injuries

Injuries seem to come with more frequency as we age. Weight training strengthens both muscles and connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments for fewer injuries and more living!

Related: 9 Tips To Prevent Joint Pain During Exercise

4. Speeds Up Your Metabolism

Most people will testify that their metabolism has slowed down with age. You just can’t eat the same things in the same volume as you ate during your 20’s or 30’s.

This circles back to the idea that you are likely less active and have also lost some of your muscle. The muscle you put on your body is an active tissue, burning calories all day while fat is just dead weight.

So the math is easy: more muscle = higher metabolism.

In addition, lifting weights is hard work. Cardio exercise doesn’t own the calorie burning industry!

Strength training is a great way to burn calories and fire up your metabolic rate for the day.

5. Improves Mental Health

Middle aged woman smiling outdoors in yellow sweater

As you get older, you may go through a lot of changes—death of loved ones, retirement, children moving away, stressful life events, or medical problems.

It’s normal to feel uneasy, stressed, or sad about these changes. Lack of self-confidence tends to tag along with as you adjust to the “new normal” in your life. Strength training has been shown to improve your confidence and boost your mood.

In addition, clinical depression is not just for younger people. Depression in older adults is on the rise.

Harvard Medical School reports that exercise helps lessen the incidence and the degree of clinical depression.

Strength Training Tips Before You Get Started

For just 20-30 minutes a day, just a few days a week, you can change the way your body ages and the way you feel in that body. So are you ready to give it a try?

Before you get started you should know that weight training is perfectly safe for those over 50, but make sure you do a few simple things first:

  • Check with your doctor before dramatically increasing your exercise regimen or if you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions.
  • Make sure your medications are aligned with your exercise program.
  • Drink lots of water. If it’s hot, drink more!
  • The“No Pain, No Gain” does not apply. If it hurts, stop doing what you’re doing. (Not if it’s hard-if it’s painful!)
  • Take plenty of time to warm up. The older you are the more warming up you need.
  • Work with a trainer if you have the means. Even just a few sessions can be helpful so that you learn proper form and technique.  

To get you started, here are 8 awesome exercises that women over 50 can incorporate into their regular exercise routines.

If you don’t have a routine that you use, these moves will do the trick!

Why these moves in particular?

Not because they are the ONLY moves you can do that will work, but for the following reasons:

1. They cover everything from lower body to upper body to core strength and balance training—all things you definitely want to keep working on as you age!

2. They get the job done quicker. Multi-tasking moves like the Cross Behind Lunge with Lateral Raise tackles shoulders, core, legs and glutes and your heart rate will go up!

3. They are low impact. For instance, the single leg hamstring bridge tackles your rear end and hamstrings without putting pressure on knee or hip joints.

4. Push-ups are a must! You aren’t the only one who doesn’t like them but that doesn’t mean shouldn’t do them. They are EFFECTIVE and they work! These push-ups allow you to be on your knees. If you ever want to lift the knees you are more than welcome!

5. Everyone should do planks. The forearm plank shown below will give you all the benefits of a plank but keep you off your wrists which tend to be sensitive for most older women.

So are you ready? Get yourself a light pair of dumbbells, perhaps 5-8 pounds, and give this routine a try.

8 Strength Training Moves Women Over 50 Should Do

Perform 8-12 repetitions of each of the following moves with 30-60 seconds rest in between. If you feel yourself getting stronger, reach for heavier weights.

If you are looking for more strength training ideas with a little guidance and whole lot of fun, try GHU TV’s Definitions program!

Squat Bicep with Knee Lift

Squat and curl knee lift

Learn how to perform a squat bicep with knee lift

Forearm Plank

Try forearm planks to build upper body strength.

Learn how to perform a forearm plank.

Single Leg Hamstring Bridge

Hamstring bridge

Learn how to perform a single leg hamstring bridge.

Kneeling Push Ups

modified push up on knees

Learn how to perform kneeling push-ups.

Reverse Grip Double Arm Row

double arm grip

Learn how to perform reverse grip double arm row

Cross Behind Lunge with Lateral Raise

Cross behind lunge with lat raise

Learn how to perform cross-behind lateral lunge.

Tricep Kickback

Tricep kickback

Learn how to perform tricep kickback.

Bird Dog

Bird dog exercise

Learn how to perform bird dog

Graphic of various strength training moves for women over 50

READ THIS NEXT: How To Prevent Menopausal Weight Gain

Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on April 2, 2019 at 2:45 AM Reply

Great articles!! Keep writing such a great article that would help everyone.

    on April 3, 2019 at 12:38 PM Reply

    Thank you for your kind words. Looking to serve everyone on this platform as much as I can with their health and fitness goals :) Have a great day!

on March 23, 2019 at 4:29 AM Reply

Hi, I am 53 post menopausal and have been getting back into healthy eating & fitness (especially enjoying strength training). However, I have recently had prolapse surgery so now having to rethink my exercise options of what I can and can't do 😢. Do you have any tips, or alternative exercise options? Many thanks 😊

    on May 21, 2019 at 5:05 PM Reply

    Hi Davina - First off, I wish you a speedy recovery after surgery! However, I love that you are enjoying strength training and getting back into healthy eating and fitness, GO YOU!! With that being said, I unfortunately am not a Doctor so I would first start off by consulting your doctor with exercises and exercise options that are safe for your post-surgery. Once you get the okay from your doctor, you will want to start with the basics of the moves and work up to the advanced options so that you are staying safe and protecting yourself. Good luck and once you have consulted your doctor and found some exercises safe to do, if you have any further questions regarding moves let me know and I am happy to help.

on January 20, 2019 at 8:04 AM Reply

I have been doing these exercises along with 45 min on there treadmill on off days. I have gained weight!!! Do you all have any healthy eating tips! How long will it take to build the muscle and see weight loss?

on August 25, 2018 at 9:50 AM Reply

I lost 35 lbs using a kettlebell, yes...a KETTLEBELL. I thought I was doomed to be the typical fat old ladybut then I started w my little hand weights and doing squats, then the results started and after I got my kettlebell it really started burning the fat. I feel and look amazing for 56!! Do the exercises shown above and you will not regret it. Soon my 40yr class reunion will be here and I can wait to see my haters :)

on March 11, 2018 at 11:29 AM Reply

Does the Gold Members have access to a couple of videos for the over 50 Members?

    on March 16, 2018 at 9:51 AM Reply

    Hi Robin - Gold members have access to ALL of our workouts - programs, LIVE, etc. And we have many workout for the over 50 age group. Try our low impact, beginner or walking workouts depending on what you're looking for!

on February 12, 2018 at 7:26 AM Reply

For anyone with pain who thinks it is out of the ordinary...Vitamin D Calcium Bcomplex and Magnesium, and any other vitamins you like....are healing my back. It takes time but 8 months in I'm much better and have started exercising. I couldnt bend over or even make it through an entire day without tons of medication...which obviously was not helping because the body needed vitamins.

on October 19, 2017 at 8:59 PM Reply

Hi. I have lower back issues so planks and bending over are out of the question. What do you recommend for core strengthening and any other exercise using the lower back? Wanda

    on October 23, 2017 at 1:47 PM Reply

    Hi Wanda - sorry to hear that. Back pain is a real PAIN. We have several workouts specifically targeted around back pain. Of course, each of these moves aren't going to be for everyone so do what feels best for you and skip the ones that don't! https://gethealthyu.com/12-yoga-poses-help-alleviate-back-pain/ https://gethealthyu.com/10-best-exercises-for-your-bad-back/ https://gethealthyu.com/power-choosing-exercise-treat-back-pain/

on May 7, 2017 at 10:27 AM Reply

With knee and hip replacements,,,, anything on the knees is off limits. How do I modify??

    on May 11, 2017 at 1:46 PM Reply

    Hi Dee – we have all sorts of workouts/articles specifically addressing bad knees. You may want to check them out below! http://gethealthyu.com/workout-modifications-bad-knees/ http://gethealthyu.com/10-lower-body-exercises-to-combat-knee-pain/ http://gethealthyu.com/5-non-running-cardio-workouts/ http://gethealthyu.com/12-minute-hiit-workout-for-bad-knees/

on March 31, 2017 at 10:14 AM Reply

These are all great! I love doing workouts with you. Thank you for your motivation. They aren't a cakewalk but look forward to your workouts. Thank you!

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