17 Strength Training Exercises For Seniors

If you are an elderly person or a senior and want to strengthen your muscles, maintain healthy bone mass and also prevent yourself from muscle loss occurring due to aging, then all you need is start strength training exercises for seniors. Doing this will help seniors in performing your regular activities such as getting out of a chair, or climbing stairs at an ease. Strength training or resistance training will increase the elasticity of the muscle and also strengthen the body’s connective tissues such as bones, ligaments and tendons; and this in turn will help seniors to hold their body in a proper upright position. Apart from this, strength training even provides a lot of essential changes at the enzymatic, molecular, chemical and hormonal levels of the body, thus helping in slowing down or even reversing several diseases caused due to an inactive lifestyle, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 Diabetes, heart diseases and Osteoporosis.

Read below to know about some of the strength training exercises for seniors:

Strength Training Exercises For Seniors:

There are certain strength training exercises for seniors that make use of basic gym equipment and also go into many higher levels of intensity strength training workouts. Most of the exercises are primarily suitable for many senior individuals who are just begging to do strength training.

Upright Front Row:

This exercise for seniors increases the strength in the upper arms as well as back and also assist in improving mobility in elbows and shoulder joints; thus allowing you to lift heavy weights or objects when required.

For doing this strength training exercise, follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Stand in a good posture, with your feet at shoulder-width apart, buttocks being out and slightly bent knees. This is also known to be “Happy dog” posture.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand just in front of the hips, with your palms facing inside towards the body.
  • Lift the dumbbell upward, right towards your chin. Remember that you engage your core and also avoid arching the back or even pulling shoulders upwards.
  • Now, return back to your starting position.
  • Repeat this 10 times.

Bicep Curl:

For doing bicep curl exercise, you must keep a strict note of using a weight that is just right for your own current strength level. If you are beginning it for the first time then start with a 5 pound of dumbbell in each of your hand that would be appropriate for you.

Follow the steps as mentioned below for performing this exercise:

  • Sit in an upright posture on a chair; with a dumbbell in each of your hand, your palms facing front, with relaxed shoulders and your elbows placed close to the body.
  • Now, focusing on the bicep muscles bend your arm right at your elbows and then lift the dumbbells ¾ of the way towards the shoulders. Keep in mind to limit rotating the shoulders forward, and also keeping the elbows stable and fixed at the side of your body.
  • As you lift your dumbbell, exhale and then inhale as you lower the dumbbell.
  • Perform at least 10-12 repetitions.

Knee Extension With/Without Weight:

This is a strength training exercise for seniors that helps in strengthening the knees, which in turn will improve the balance and also reduce the risk of facing falls.

Strengthening the knees also helps you in walking or climbing stairs with a great ease and absolute comfort.

Read the steps mentioned below:

  • Sit upright in a chair by bending your knees.
  • Extend out the right leg, in your front slowly and hold at least some seconds before getting them back to the start position.
  • Repeat this with the left leg.
  • Do at least 12 reps on each of the leg.

NOTE: You can strap a weight around each of your ankle for a more advanced version of the exercise.

Partial Squat And Half Squat Against A Wall

Squatting helps in increasing the flexibility of your hips and also in strengthening the hip flexors as well as the quadriceps; which will in turn improve your ability to walk as well as ability to stand straight up with an ease from a sitting position. In addition, squatting also enhances your body balance as well as your body’s stability and thus reducing the risk of meeting with unwanted falls.

Perform as partial and half squat against the wall as the below mentioned steps:

  • Leaning your back slightly against the wall, stand up by placing your legs little wider than a shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend the knees, by sliding down your buttocks on the wall. Make sure to keep the knee cap in a straight line with the middle toe of your foot and also keep in mind no to bend your knees past your toes.
  • You can place the feet slightly further away from the wall and then lower down your body into the seated position (just like you are sitting on a chair), in case your current strength allows you doing so. Before raising yourself back up, hold this seated position for few seconds.
  • Perform 10-20 repetitions, as per your ability.

NOTE: As you gradually practice this and get comfortable with the move, you can also increase the level of difficulty by holding one dumbbell in each of your hands.

Lying Hip Bridges

Lying hip bridges are the ones that work on the glutes which are the body’s largest muscle group, and also work in opening up the hips. Our hips can become tight as we age, especially in people who have to spend most of their time sitting all the day. So, doing this exercise could really benefit you.

Follow the instructions as mentioned below:

  • Lie on the back by bending your knees and by keeping your feet absolutely flat on the floor.
  • Now, push the hips high up in the air by flattening the lower back against the ground, and squeezing your buttock.
  • Pause for a while and lower to the starting position in a slow and gentle manner.

Wall Pushups

  • By doing wall pushups, you can improve the strength of your upper body, especially of your chest and arms. This is pretty simple to do.
  • Stand a few feet away from the wall and place the hands against the wall at your shoulder height.
  • Diagonally, bend your elbows to the sides by placing your body straight, in a way that your chest lowers or stretches towards the wall.
  • Let you be in the tip of your toes and allow your heels to rise off the floor.
  • Pause for some time and then press your hands slowly for straightening the elbows and return to the starting position.

Quadruped Opposite Arm And Leg Balance

Quadruped opposite arm and leg balance is a wonderful strength exercise for improving balance of your body, appropriate coordination and overall strength in the abdominals and your back.

Follow the below mentioned steps:

  • Get on your four limbs, with your hands straight under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips.
  • Lift one hand so as to reach right in front of the shoulder and lift the opposite foot right behind the hips; while keeping the back flat and by tightening your abdominals.
  • Hold for at least 3 breaths, and then lower the foot and hand to the floor and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the same on the opposite side.

Side Lying Circles

Side lying circles have got some real great benefits. This exercise strengthens the hips and also improves the mobility through your hip joint.

Below are the steps to perform this move:

  • Lie on your one side in a way that your body is in a straight line, bottom arm extended over the head.
  • Place the head on the bottom arm and then by squeezing the abdominals so as to pull in your belly.
  • Lift the top leg up to at least to the hip height and in small clockwise circles right in the air with your lifted leg.
  • Pause for a while and then do the circles in an anti-clockwise motion.
  • Lower your leg and come back to the starting position.
  • Repeat the same on your opposite side.

Dead Bugs

Dead bugs are excellent exercises for seniors that help in improving your stability for achieving a greater balance and also help in improving the overall strength of your body. Read the steps written below to perform this move:

  • Lie flat on the back keeping your arms and legs up in the air and by bending your knees.
  • While keeping the lower back in touch of the floor, lower any one of your leg until the feet touches the ground and simultaneously lower the opposite arm towards the ground right above your head.
  • Lift them up back and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the same on the opposite side.

Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder exercises are known to strengthen the shoulders and by doing this, you improve the ability for performing many of the other arm movements, such as lifting a suitcase or passing a food bowl across the dining table, at an ease. Moreover, shoulder exercises also help in relieving shoulder pain.

You can do any of the two shoulder exercise we will be talking here.

Overhead Dumbbell Press:

  • Sit in a fair posture and hold a dumbbell or weight in each of your hand, with the elbows bent in a way that the weights are left up by the shoulders, and your palms facing outward.
  • From this position, press both the dumbbells up towards the ceiling and again lower back to your shoulder height.
  • Make sure to exhale when you raise the dumbbells and inhale while you lower the weights.
  • Repeat this at least 10 or 12 times.

Diagonal Outward Shoulder Raise:

  • Sit in a proper posture and carry a dumbbell or the weight in the right hand.
  • Cross the right arm just in front of you in a way the dumbbell is exactly positioned by the left hip, with your palm facing inwards or towards your body.
  • From this position, lift up your arm and take across the body in a diagonal swing by keeping your arm straight. The palm should face outward or away from you, as this movement ends.
  • Return the right arm to the starting position.
  • Do this 10 times
  • Do the same in the other side or using the left arm.

Lat Pulls With Bands:

Lat pulls with bands help in strengthening the lat muscles found on either side of the back and that are being used every day for pulling movements, such as while opening door or while picking up things.

For doing this strength training exercise for seniors, follow the below mentioned steps.

  • Sit or stand while holding a resistance band in your hands over the head.
  • Make sure that your hands must remain wider than shoulder-width so that no tension is there on the resistance band.
  • Be noted that your back is kept flat and the abs are totally engaged.
  • Keep your left hand in place and contract the muscles of the right side of your back so as to pull your elbow down towards your rub cage.
  • Press back up and do 12 repetitions on the right side before changing to left side.
  • You need to do 12 repetitions on the left side too.

Knee Lift With A Med Ball:

This is a great strength training exercise for seniors, that works on the upper body and increases the endurance of the upper body and also helps in improving stability and balance.

Below we have mentioned the steps to perform this exercise:

  • Hold a med ball in both your hands, right up over the head.
  • Lift up your right knee up to the level of your waist by bringing your arms down, touching the ball to your knee.
  • Lower your right knee and take the med ball up.
  • Now, lift your left knee to the level of your hip, while bringing down the ball to your knee.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat the same by alternating the sides.
  • Continue this move for 60 seconds.

Triceps Exercise:

Triceps exercises are the ones that focus on the backside of the upper arm, which is an area that usually tends to get flabby as we age and due to lack of use. It is a good strength training exercise for seniors.

  • Sit in an upright position in a chair while holding a dumbbell in the right hand.
  • Raise the weight above your head, and stabilize the right arm by simply placing the left hand on the right elbow.
  • Bend your right hand’s elbow slowly, by lowering the dumbbell down behind the head.
  • From the start, raise the dumbbell towards the ceiling and then lower it back gently behind your back.
  • Do 10 repetitions and then switch to the other side.

Sit Backs:

This exercise for seniors strengthens your core muscles and this in turn allow you aa greater mobility for your day-to0day works, such as getting up from the bed or a chair. This move is to be done on the floor. You can use a yoga mat if you want so.

Follow the steps as mentioned here.

  • Start by sitting straight on the floor with your knees bent and arms crossed in the front of your chest. This feels as if you are hugging yourself up.
  • Sit back slowly as far as you are comfortable. Here the key is to engage your core, while avoid rounding the back.
  • Return to the normal or starting position.
  • Perform at least 10 repetitions.

Bird Dog:

Bird dog is a strength training exercise for seniors that strengthens your abs and also the glutes and lower back. Follow the steps mentioned below to perform this move.

  • Start on the hands and knees and with your back kept straight and your abs pulled in.
  • Lift up your right arm until it is properly level with your body and also at the same time, lift your left leg and straighten it up until it is at parallel to the floor.
  • Hold this position for few seconds, then lower back and repeat the same on the alternative side (i.e. lifting left arm and the right leg).
  • Continue doing this by altering the sides for 12 repetitions.

NOTE: In case you find it hard, begin with just the arms and legs separately until you get more comfortable and habituated with it.

Toe Stand:

Toe stands for seniors are the kinds of strength exercises that can help you in strengthening your ankles and calves and also help in maintaining your body’s stability and body balance.

Follow the steps as mentioned:

  • Begin by standing with your feet at shoulder-width apart, near a chair that can be used for support.
  • Slowly push the heels up as far as possible onto the balls of your feet, while you count five.
  • Try to hold this position at least for 2-5 seconds.
  • Then, slowly lower your heels back to the floor while counting to five, where you find your feet completely flat on the floor.

Side Planks:

Side plank will help seniors to improve the side-to-side core stability and also strengthen the shoulder.

See below to know about the steps for performing side planks:

  • Lie on one of your side, propped up with your elbow straight below the shoulders.
  • With the sides of your knees or your feet stacked on the floor, squeeze the core and then lift off your hips up from the floor in a way that your body forms one straight line from the ears to either your knees or your feet.
  • Hold as long as possible by you, while maintaining a good form or feeling any discomfort.
  • Then lower the hips and return to starting position.
  • Repeat the same on the opposite side.

Wall Angels:

You can perform wall angels and ease your back pain as well as improve your body’s posture. It involves opening your chest and working out on your shoulders with some simple against-the-wall exercises.

Follow the steps as mentioned below to perform wall angels.

  • Stand with your back touching a wall and with feet at about 3-6 inches apart from the wall.
  • Now, with the back side of your head touching the wall and arms straight down by the sides of your body, tuck your chin towards your chest.
  • Then, turn the palms out and raise your arms slowly, by maintaining contact with the wall or the floor.
  • Raise your arms as much high as possible, but only without bending your elbows or without feeling any discomfort in the arms or the shoulders.
  • Then pause for few seconds and lower your arms so as to return back to the starting position.

Safety Guidelines:

Seniors need to follow some safety guidelines before exercising. Below are some of them.

  • Ensure that you warm up for at least 10 minute prior to exercise and also cool down at least 10 minutes after your exercise gets over.
  • There may be some soreness in the belly while exercising, however in case you feel pain in your joints then you must stop exercising.
  • Make sure not to hold your breath while you are exercising. Keep in mind to breathe on the exertion part of your exercise.
  • While performing all the exercises, maintain a fair upright posture.
  • Do not grip your weights too tightly.
  • Keep it noted that all the movements that you do while exercising must be done in a slow or moderate and in a deliberate way.


Be known that it is never too late or you are never too old to begin a fitness routine; and especially the strength training becomes really more important as you age. It is true that many of the limitations in life are put on by ourselves. Lift those limitations and free yourself! Start strength training and enjoy a fit and fine elderly age. However, kindly keep in mind to consult your doctor before beginning to exercise and also know about any precautions that you should take as per your age and health conditions.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 27, 2018

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