Physical fitness tends to decline with age. For men over the age of 50 specifically, testosterone levels decrease, weight typically increases, and one’s risk of disease increases. Regular physical activity in combination with proper nutrition and supplementation can be the key to combatting the deleterious effects of aging.
Injury prevention, balance, posture, and core strength should be the focus of programming for men over 50. If you aren’t a gym member, don’t have time to always travel to the gym for your workouts, or simply prefer to exercise at home; we’ve got a list of bodyweight and minimal equipment exercises that can easily be done at home! Try performing these 8 exercises as a circuit for a great at-home workout.
1. Squats to sit
This compound lower body movement targets your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. This is the most functional and least advanced variation of the squat. Assume a hip-width stance with both toes pointing straight ahead. From there, squat to sit down, keeping your chest up and core braced, forming roughly a 90-degree angle at the knees. Then push through your heels to stand up and repeat for a set number of repetitions. If you’re seeking a more challenging squat variation, try traditional bodyweight squats, resistance band squats, or single-leg squats to sit. Aim for 3 sets of 12-20 repetitions.
2. Single-leg step-ups
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This exercise targets your glutes while challenging your hip stability and overall balance. You can use stairs or an aerobic step platform to perform this functional movement. Start with your left foot on the stair or top of the platform that you plan to step up onto. Drive through your left heel and bring your right foot up onto the platform/stair as well. Slowly step back down to your starting position with your right leg, keeping your left foot and leg set. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions and then perform the movement with your right leg set. Aim for 3 sets. To progress this exercise, try increasing the height of the step and/or pull your knee up from the floor towards your chest rather than placing it on the platform as well to add an additional element of instability.
3. Single-leg multi-planar reaches
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Strengthen your glutes and hips while challenging your balance with this single-leg exercise. Begin on your left leg, knee slightly bent and right leg straight with your right foot off the ground. Reach straight back as far as you can without shifting your upper body forward, then bring your right leg back to your starting position, still off the ground. Then reach directly off to your right side as far as possible. Return back to the starting position. Perform this sequence four times per set for a total of 8 reps per side. Aim for 3 sets.
4. High planks
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This static, full body, core-focused exercise is beneficial for all. Start by placing your hands directly beneath your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Dig your toes into the floor to ground yourself and activate your glutes. Look down at the floor, about one foot out in front of your hands to ensure a neutral spine. Keep your core braced tightly and hold this position for time. Aim for 3 sets of 20-30 seconds and increase your time as you get stronger.
5. Resistance band rows
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Sit upright on the floor, legs extended and anchor the resistance band around your feet. Hold one handle of the resistance band in each hand. Keep your chest high and gaze forward. Pull the band towards your torso at navel height so that your elbows pass just right outside of your body. Squeeze your shoulder blades Exhale as you row. Slowly return to your starting position and repeat for 12-20 repetitions. Aim for 3 sets.
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Challenge your upper body and core strength with push-ups. Begin in a high plank position with your hands right outside of your shoulders and feet roughly hip-width apart. Brace your core and lower your body towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your torso and trying to keep your body in a straight line. Exhale and push yourself back up into the high plank position, repeating for repetitions. If standard push-ups are too challenging or cause too much stress on your joints, try kneeling or wall push-ups as an alternative. Aim for 3 sets of 12-20 reps.
7. Resistance band curls
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Grab the handles of the band with a palms-forward grip and stand on the resistance band to generate tension. The further apart your feet are, the more difficult the exercise will be. Slowly curl the band up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows locked in at your sides, exhaling as you curl. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement as you contract the muscles, then in a slow and controlled manner return to your starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
8. Banded pallof press
Image credit: T Nation
This anti-rotation movement targets your entire core. Anchor the band so that it is just below shoulder height. Cup both hands around the band and walk out to generate tension in the band, setting your lower body up so that your hips are in line with your anchor point, knees are slightly bent, and your feet are about hip-width apart. Begin with your core braced and hands at the center of your chest and press forward, fully extending your arms and not allowing the band to pull you off center towards the anchor point. Slowly return back towards the center of your chest and repeat for 12-15 repetitions. Be sure to perform this movement on both sides! Aim for 3 sets.