If your exercise routine doesn’t include dedicated strength training, it’s time to start. Remember that muscle strength contributes to overall health. Stronger muscles help to support your bone structure, a concern especially important for older women at risk for osteoporosis. Strong muscles also contribute to a faster metabolism and better injury recovery times.
These exercises are all easy to do at home or the gym in 15 minutes or less. Try to work each muscle group about three times a week, rotating as you go to give rest days.
Everyday tasks, whether at home or the office, require upper body movements that benefit from more muscular arms. Having strong arms also helps protect your back and core from overextending when using your upper body.
Row to Tricep Kickbacks
For a compound movement that targets your triceps, this kickback is one of the most effective ways to get quick results. Stand with legs hip-width apart, bent slightly at the hip, with a straight back. Pull your arms back into a row, then extend behind you from your elbows to target the triceps.
Bicep Curl 21s/7,7,7s
This variation on traditional bicep curls is easy and efficient for targeted bicep training. Complete seven reps of bicep curls, starting with your arms down and moving up to the 90-degree position. The following seven reps start at 90 degrees and move your hands to your shoulders. The last seven reps are the whole movement from straight down up to shoulders.
Shoulder and Back Exercises
Women of all ages can benefit from solid shoulders and backs. If you’re the one carrying kids, groceries, yard debris, or heavy tools, a strong back and shoulders will help reduce your risk of injury.
These movements are small but effective since they target your shoulders. You can do them standing or prone for similar results. With arms by your side, move both out and up to form a Y shape, squeezing down and back in your shoulders at the top. Complete the T shape the same way. For W, start with arms straight above your head and pull elbows down to the side to form a W shape, again squeezing your shoulders. The L movement begins with your arms out at 90 degrees in L shapes, then rotate your hands forward and down while keeping your elbows in place.
Bent Over Row
These movements engage your whole back and core while also working your arms. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hinge forward slightly at the waist. With your arms down straight, slowly pull them back until your elbows are just past your back.
Photo: luljoz via 123RF
Having strong legs is one of the best ways to remain physically active as you age. While we use our leg muscles constantly, we often forget to target them in strength training.
This power lunge exercise targets all areas of your legs. Stand with legs together and lunge forward with one leg, keeping your knee at 90 degrees. Return to the center, then lunge out to the side, keeping your standing leg straight. Return to center, then lunge backward. Repeat on the other side.
While this calf stretch might seem simple, building calf muscles is essential for leg strength. Stand on the floor and roll up onto the balls of your feet, hold, then lower. Stand on a step with your heels off the edge for a deeper stretch.
Glutes and Core Exercises
Our modern sedentary lifestyle contributes to weaker glutes and tight hips. A weak core can encourage other muscles to compensate, leading to strain or unnecessary overuse. These core exercises help target the glutes, abs, and pelvic floor muscles that can help stabilize your entire body.
Bridges are a simple but effective way to tone your glutes, engage your core, and stretch your hips. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Engage your core while bringing your glutes into a bridge position, then lower down.
This quad workout will help support your glutes and hips and add more power to your legs. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms out straight in front of you. Sit back into your hips while engaging your core.
This plank variation combines ab strength with hip flexibility. Start in a plank position with your forearms on the floor and elbows beneath your shoulders. Bend your right leg up to the side, bringing your knee to the right elbow, then back behind you. Repeat on the left.
An exercise routine doesn’t have to be all or nothing, so try to incorporate several of these moves into your workout plan over the next few weeks. You’ll notice improved strength sooner than you think.