senior couples working out together

Whether this is your first time getting into weight lifting or you are an avid weightlifter getting back into your routine, taking the first step of researching what exercises are best for you is a huge step into your new journey. As you begin your fitness journey you will notice there are immediate benefits – such as better sleep and feeling more energized – but there are also long-term benefits that are even more impactful. Sticking to your fitness goal and a new lifestyle is essential to achieving these long-term benefits which can include stronger joints, increased strength, and improved cognitive conditions.

What Can Exercise Do For You

Older adults will be able to see improvement in multiple areas – including their physical appearance, biological health, and psychological behaviors. Although weight lifting may seem like it’s only a way to only get stronger, weight lifting affects the entire body and mood of participants.

Physical

The most common benefits from exercise are the physical benefits. Lifting weights and any form of exercise can aid in weight loss, flexibility, and making you stronger. As an older adult, it is important to keep your joints active and strong to aid with simple tasks such as picking up heavier items like groceries or your grandchild/grandchildren.

Biological

Exercise stimulates your body and creates biological benefits throughout your body without you realizing it. Exercise increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. With exercise, your blood becomes more oxygenated and travels more healthfully throughout the body. It even helps to lower your cholesterol.

Psychological

One of the most rewarding benefits that come from exercise are the psychological benefits. Exercise can lead to reduced stress, a higher self-esteem, increased energy levels, and an improved overall mood. Being active weekly will lead to a sense of accomplishment after every workout. Once you start seeing your progress, you will feel proud of what you did on your own!

Exercise Routines

To help you get a head start on your fitness journey, here is a template of a day-by-day exercise routine with exercises you can do in the gym or in the comfort of your own house if you have dumbbells or anything with some weight to it. These exercises are meant to target every part of your body, but focus on a few muscle categories per day.

Monday: Chest and Triceps

elderly couple doing chest workouts

Incline Push-Up

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

If you can do a standard push-up, that is a good alternative exercise. However, if you cannot do a standard push-up, lean against a wall or another surface and push your body up and down using your arms like a standard push-up. Incline push-ups take less stress off of your joints, are easier than incline push-ups but still offer the same benefits for your chest and triceps.

Dumbbell Chest Press

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

For this exercise, you will lay down on a bench or a flat surface and use two dumbbells. Form a 90-degree angle with your arms perpendicular to your chest and lift up your arms and push the dumbbells up until your arms are almost straight, but make sure to avoid locking your elbows.

Chest Flys

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This is another exercise that uses dumbbells, or a weighted plate, and a flat surface or bench. You will need to hold your arms straight out perpendicular to your chest and lift off the floor, holding your weights in each hand, until they are above you. Make sure to start off with light weights to avoid the risk of injury.

Tricep Kickbacks

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise will help tone and develop muscles for your triceps, or the area under your arm. You will need a dumbbell or weighted plate and a surface to hold onto. This exercise is done one arm at a time. To perform this exercise, hold onto a surface or a wall with one arm, bend over to form a 90-degree angle and hold your other arm in a 90-degree angle against your body while holding the weight. Then extend your arm back until it is straight and repeat on both sides.

Tuesday: Back and Biceps

elderly couple doing bicep workout

Bicep Curls

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

You can lift a dumbbell, a weighted bar, plates, or any type of weighted item. Hold the item in both hands or one hand at a time and keep your arm straight down. Lift the weight, without moving your elbow from its location, all the way up until it is in front of your shoulder. You can also perform this exercise with your arm against a flat surface and using the same movement of squeezing your bicep.

 

Bent-Over Row

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

For this exercise, you will bend over at a 45-degree angle and hold two dumbbells straight down. You will then lift the dumbbells back towards your stomach and bring them back down. That will complete one repetition and you will repeat this 10 times for one set.

 

Hammer Curls

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

To complete this exercise, you will need one or two weights or dumbbells. You will keep your arm straight down your side while holding the dumbbell. Bring the weight up and across your chest without moving your elbow and bring it back to its original position to complete a repetition.

 

T-Raises

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

To begin this exercise you will bend over at a 90-degree angle with two weights in each hand. Your arms should be straight down creating a 90-degree angle between your chest. Lift your arms perpendicular to your body while keeping your arms straight and return to the original position.

Wednesday: Chest and Triceps

 

Incline Chest Fly

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise follows the same movement as the chest fly exercise on Monday, but this time you will be seated at an incline. You can be seated on a chair or a workout bench if you have access to one. This exercise is great for increasing strength in your chest and increasing your mobility.

 

Skullcrushers

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise is great for your triceps and easy to do in any location. You will lay flat on the floor or a bench and just need one weight for this exercise. You will hold the weight straight above your chest with both arms and bend them at a 90-degree angle so the weight will be right above your head or right past your head. Return to the original position to complete one repetition and make sure to start off with a light weight to avoid any injuries.

 

Incline Chest Press

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise will follow the same method as the chest press done on Monday but on a chair or incline workout bench. Sitting at a different incline will help target different areas of the chest muscle!

 

Tricep Dips

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise is great for building strength and toning your underarms. To perform this exercise, you will sit on the floor against a chair or elevated surface that is equal in height. You will then place your hands on the bench with your wrist facing towards you and move off the chair. Keep your legs in a 90-degree angle and lift yourself up and down, making sure to extend your arms to engage the triceps.

Thursday: Legs

 

Squats

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

A squat is an exercise where you begin in a standing position with your head facing forward and feet shoulder-width apart. The goal is to bend your knees so that your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible. The motion is similar to if you were to slowly sit down in a chair and quickly stand back up. It is best to keep your knees over your toes, back straight, and the heels of your feet firmly on the ground.

 

Calf-Raises

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

The starting position for this exercise is in a standing position with your feet at hip-width and arms in a relaxed position. From here, lift your body by contracting your calves, lifting up your heels from the ground and reaching the peak of the exercise on your toes. This should be an explosive movement when lifting your body up off the ground and a controlled fall, squeezing the calves, glutes, and hamstrings for a smooth transition back to the initial position.

 

Side-Hip Raise

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

For this exercise, you will stand straight and if you need to, lean against a wall or a surface. One leg at a time you will lift your leg straight and perpendicular to your body. Holding a dumbbell or a weight against your thigh while you do this will make the exercise harder and increase your strength.

 

Glute Bridges

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

To do a proper glute bridge, begin with laying on the floor face up. Continue to bend your knees to a bent position to comfortably have your feet laying on the floor shoulder-width apart, arms at the side, and palms facing the ground. Now move your hips off the ground, creating a straight line (a bridge) from your shoulders to your knees and squeezing the glutes as tight as possible without overextending your back. This exercise should have slow, focused movements when transitioning from the ground, the bridge, and back down squeezing the glutes all the way through.

Friday: Shoulders, Forearms, Wrists

 

Shoulder Rotations

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

Shoulder rotations are great for mobility and increasing your shoulder strength. You will begin by sitting or standing straight up and holding one weight in each hand at 90-degree angles against your body. Keeping your elbow against your side, move the weight from against your body to away from your body.

Band Pull-Apart

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise does not require any weights but you will need a resistance band or any stretchy material or rope. This exercise will stretch the muscles in your shoulder and improve your mobility. Simply hold your arms straight forward and hold the band in each hand. Pull the band apart as much as you can and then return to the original position.

Side Arm Raises

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise is great for building muscle in your shoulders. Hold one weight in each hand by your side and raise your arms until they are perpendicular to your body. Start off with light weights because this exercise is a lot harder than it looks!

Palms-Up Wrist Curls

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10
  • Duration: 1-minute rest between sets
  • Frequency: 1x a week

This exercise is great for your forearm strength and improving mobility in your wrist. Just lay your arm flat on a table or surface and hold a dumbbell in your hand. Lift your wrist up and down and make sure to hold onto the weight while you do so.

Saturday and Sunday: Rest!

Rest days are an important part of any exercise routine. Enjoy your weekend however you please, but try to keep yourself busy and your blood flowing with some sort of light recreational activity. This can speed healing and greatly improve muscle retention as you get older.

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