Screw this notion of growing old gracefully and accepting all our impending doom. Instead, I want to fight it gracefully by getting strong and healthy and staying that way. Strength training for women over 50 is not only essential for our bodies, but it’s a total brain booster.
Plus, I always feel sexiest when doing something good for my body. So, strength training for the win!
Want to learn how? Keep reading.
Is Strength Training For Women Over 50 A Good Idea?
Oh, hell yes!
Let me count the ways…
- Lean muscle burns more calories, even at rest
- The more muscle you build, the tighter your body is. This is because the muscle replaces the fat, so you’ll lose inches and fat.
- As estrogen decreases (thanks menopause), our bones become weaker. Lifting weights builds mineral density in your bones.
- As we age, our muscle mass shrinks and pulls our shoulders forward, creating the humpback of Notre Dame look we all dread. Lifting weights strengthens the spine, chest and shoulders and supports better posture to help avoid it.
- The stronger you are, the less likely you’ll be off-balance and fall.
Want more benefits? Read this.
What You’ll Need To Start A Strength Training Program For Women Over 50
We all have different needs to start a strength training program. If you are a total newbie to working out or want accountability, check out our Get Strong Over 40 program. It’s a 12-week beginner strength training program specifically created for women over 40. It’ll kickstart your fitness routine in no time!
But if you are ready to start on your own, you don’t need to join a gym to do these exercises. These can be done at home with just a few things.
- A set of dumbbells. These can be an adjustable set or a few separate weights, starting at 3 pounds. It’s a good idea to get a light, medium, and heavy set to make sure you are pushing yourself by trying heavy weights when you can.
- You’ll also need a good mat that isn’t too thin.
- A stability ball is a great tool to help improve balance and coordination, which we all need as we get older.
Best Strength Training Exercises For Women Over 50
The best strength training for women over 50 should include exercises that mimic everyday movements or functional exercises. Think bending, twisting, pulling, pushing, lifting, and reaching overhead.
If you strengthen the muscles that involve your daily tasks, like hauling groceries and bending down, you’ll reduce your risk of injury as you “do life.”
Try to do 10-12 reps of each exercise (unless otherwise noted). Then rest for 30-60 seconds before doing it again. After three sets, begin a new exercise.
Ready to get moving? Let’s do this…
This one is fab for your abs and back muscles and helps lengthen the posterior chain. In addition, it stabilizes the spine, works the glutes, and can help minimize lower back pain.
How to do a bird dog:
- Start in a tabletop position (kneeling on the mat on all fours).
- Brace your core and keep hips square.
- Lift right hand and extend it in front of you.
- At the same time, extend the left leg straight behind you.
- There should be a straight line from the fingertips on your right hand to your left toes.
- Hold for a few secs and then alternate your leg and arm.
Core strength is everything. And it isn’t just abs, it’s back as well. And as we age, those muscles contribute to stabilizing our hips and back.
How to do a plank:
- Lay on the floor with your forearms flat on the ground and shoulders over your elbows.
- Brace your core, tuck your pelvis, and raise your body in a straight line, so you hover over the mat. Don’t let your hips drop or rise. The only parts touching the mat are your toes and forearms. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your toes.
- Try to hold for 30 seconds. If that’s easy, hold for a minute.
Pro tip: If that’s too easy, try a high plank. Instead of doing it on your forearms, you’ll do it with straight arms—like a push-up.
Another more advanced option is the forearm plank but on the stability ball instead of the mat.
Push-ups are fab for total upper body strength. Full push-ups are really challenging, but that’s the goal. If you can’t do a regular push-up, you can easily modify it by starting on your knees. However, work towards doing the full push-up, even if it’s just one a day. You’ll get a great benefit from it.
How to do a full push-up:
- Start in high plank. Shoulders over your wrists and squeeze everything tight.
- Lower your body toward the ground with your elbows pointing back at 45 degrees.
- Keep squeezing and press your body back up to a high plank position.
Pro tip: If you need to modify it, just do the same movement but instead of starting on your toes, start on your knees.
Lower body exercises are the best way to improve bone density. And squats are the golden child of lower body exercises. Besides giving you a shapely booty and thighs, they target the muscles around the hips and pelvis, which are prone to breaking as we get older.
How to do a squat:
- Stand with feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and push your butt back. Pretend you are going to sit on a chair.
- Keep your weight in your heels and your knees behind your toes.
- Go as low as you can comfortably, and then push through your heels and slowly stand back up.
Pro tip: You can put a box or chair behind you if you feel unsteady. But as soon as your booty touches it, slowly stand back up.
This exercise mimics walking and climbing stairs and is especially good for enforcing balance and coordination in your lower body.
How to do a reverse lunge:
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Take a step backward with your right foot.
- Bend both knees and lower your body until the right knee nearly touches the floor.
- Both legs should be at 90-degree angles. Your left thigh is parallel to the mat, as is your right shin.
- Push your left foot into the floor and step your right leg back into starting position.
Pro tips: If you are unsteady, hold onto the wall or a chair. If this is easy, add dumbbells into each hand.
As women, our pelvic floor can weaken with age. Glute bridges can help strengthen it and all the muscles around the pelvis.
- Lay down on your back on the mat with your feet flat on the floor. Knees hip-distance apart.
- Squeeze your abs and glutes and lift your hips into a bridge.
- Lower hips until your lower back and booty just touch the ground.
- Lift hips again. Repeat.
Pro tips: The closer your feet and hips are, the more challenging it is.
Add a mini-resistant band just above your knees if this is easy. Want more of a challenge? Lay a weight or dumbbell on your hips as you lift and lower. Or try a stability ball glute bridge.
This is an excellent exercise because we constantly pick things up off the floor. The stronger these muscles are, the less likely we will get injured.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing thighs.
- With a flat back and tight core, fold at the hips and send your butt backward. At the same time, lower the dumbbells toward the floor, allowing them to hang in front of your knees and shins. Do not round your back.
- Keeping your back flat, stand up and into the starting position.
Shoulder Overhead Press:
These moves strengthen the muscles we need for everyday tasks like lifting boxes, holding grandkids, even carrying heavy groceries. This can help reduce the chance of injury as you press something overhead.
- Sit on a stability ball with feet hip-distance apart.
- Hold a set of dumbbells in a goal post formation—elbows bent out to side, wrists and weights next to ears.
- Press weights up overhead until arms are straight.
- Return to goal posts
Pro tip: If you don’t have a stability ball, you can sit on a chair or stand.
Stability Ball Tricep Kickback:
How many of us love our underarms? Those jiggly wings we have when we wave at a friend, and they keep waving after we stop. No one. That’s who. So, to get rid of our Aunt Betty arms, our bingo wings, our hello Helens, start doing these exercises, STAT!
- Hold dumbbells and lay down with your chest on the ball. Legs extended behind you. Keep your body in a straight line with your arms by your sides.
- To start, bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle.
- Straighten (or kickback) your arms towards your sides while squeezing the triceps. That’s one rep.
The Final Push
Now you know how to get started with strength training for older women. So, what are you waiting for?
To get your body and mind ready for action, read more of our blogs on movement.