As a trainer to people of all shapes, sizes, and ages over the past 13 years I do and always have recommended strength training for everyone. No matter your age, training yourself to be strong, especially in a functional way is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
A stronger body is a more youthful one, and luckily it’s never too late to start training to be stronger than you are today.
If you are beginning your fitness journey at an age over 50 and feel intimidated by strength training or scared to hurt yourself then read on. If you have been exercising all your life you can still get great benefits from these exercises and I’ll explain how to advance the moves.
We’re going over 6 of the best gentle strength training exercises that are simple enough to do at home and designed for functional strength – the strength and mobility that will keep you young and move well forever.
The goal of this workout is simply to train your muscles in a way that translates to real-life movements. The kind of strength you actually need and use in your everyday life.
Good form during these exercises is essential, so please reference the photos and make sure to do these exercises with the correct postures.
The only equipment you’ll need for this workout is one stable chair. Do not use a chair with wheels or a folding chair. If you don’t have a solid chair to work with use a wall instead.
You’ll complete 6 exercises in the number of reps given for each exercise and then repeat them twice for a full workout.
Beginners may modify by reducing reps or just doing one round. Advanced please do 3 or even 4 rounds, and even consider removing the chair to do the exercises with your own balance.
Here are the 6 exercises:
1) Kneel To Stand Up
Ability to stand up off the ground without using your hands is often a test of how “young” we are physically. Practicing this simple skill translates to improved mobility, functionality, and physical youth.
Do 10 reps total, 5 on each side, alternating.
2) Squat To Chair
Sitting down in a chair is something we do every day without even thinking about it. When we turn it into an exercise, we are creating the opportunity to focus on our form and what muscles we’re engaging instead of mindlessly flopping down.
By controlling your descent and pausing at the bottom you’ll develop great leg, knee, and hip strength that will continue to benefit you for decades to come.
Do 12 reps, focusing on squeezing your butt and legs each time you return to the top.
3) Side Leg Lifts
Great for training inner and outer thighs as well as balance and stability. For more challenge, remove the chair.
Do 15 reps per side, more if you can, but focus on good form and squeezing your muscles instead of just going through the motion.
4) Seated Single Leg Extensions
This is a fantastic non-impact knee strengthener for anyone who struggles with knee pain or anyone that would like to prevent it.
Do 20 reps total, 10 per side.
5) Back to Chair Push Ups
Push-ups are one of the greatest upper body exercises we can do. But if doing pushups on the ground is too challenging this modification can help bridge the gap and make them more do-able so you can gain more benefit.
Do 10 reps, using the full range of motion, all the way down and all the way up.
For more challenge and to include some core training you can walk your feet back a step farther and create a straight plank position with your body, like this:
More advanced: remove the chair and do pushups on the ground.
6) Standing Knee Core Crunch
Working your core is essential to functional strength at any age, but crunches on the ground can often be very uncomfortable or too challenging for anyone dealing with back pain. Try this crunch variation to get all the benefits of core work without the discomfort.
Do 10 reps on the left, then 10 reps on the right.
To complete this workout, perform all 6 of these moves as one big circuit, resting about 30 seconds between exercises, then repeat the circuit 2 to 4 more times depending on your fitness level.
Advanced exercisers can remove the chair and complete beginners may reduce the reps and/or only do 1 round of the circuit.
Regardless of your starting point, it’s always a great time to start training to be stronger. Just a few minutes per day of functional exercises can impact your future and keep your body more fit.
I recommend doing this workout or similar ones at least 3 times per week to stay strong, mobile and vibrant.