Elderly Strength Training And Exercises For Seniors

Build strength. Improve stability.

Hi, I'm Doug Schrift - otherwise known as "Your Senior Fitness Coach" - and I’ve spent years guiding the fitness of thousands of seniors as a Physical Therapist, even if they have never exercised before. Sign up below to my email list to receive my FREE 4 Week Senior Fitness Program

Coach Doug


“Elderly and senior strength training exercise?” That is the response I get when I tell people I use elderly strength training for seniors, men and women in their 80’s and 90’s.

elderly strength

Yes, they can be frail and have low energy reserves but most respond well to moderate sessions of weight training.

Numerous studies have shown that strength training for seniors and other exercises for seniors done regularly not only builds up bone and muscle but counteracts the weakness and frailty that usually comes with aging.

Exercising your muscles will increase not only your muscular strength but also your muscular endurance which is the ability to repeat a movement over and over again.

Start an elderly and seniors strength training program today!

Check with your doctor and ask if there are any precautions you should take.

Generally most seniors and elderly can safely begin a fitness program.

Elderly strength training for seniors and exercises for seniors can help with:


General safety guidelines for elderly strength training for seniors and exercises for seniors

  • Make sure  you warm up at least 10 minutes before exercise and cool down for at least 10 minutes after exercise.
  • Some soreness in the muscle belly can be expected but stop the exercise if you feel pain in your joints.
  • Maintain a good upright posture during all exercises.
  • Don’t hold your breath while exercising. Make sure you breathe on the exertion part of the exercise
  • Don’t grip your weights tightly
  • All movements should be done in a slow to moderate and deliberate manner.

Forms of elderly strength training and exercises for seniors

Picture118There are many ways to work your muscles. Two of the most common are isometric exercise  and progressive resistance exercise.

Isometric exercise involves tensing your muscle without movement as in pressing your leg down while someone blocks any movement.

You may remember this form of exercise promoted by Charles Atlas.

You must remember though, that with isometric exercise there is no movement.

This means you are not working on  joint range of motion and flexibility.

Because there is no movement, isometric exercise can also increase your blood pressure.

Progressive resistance training is another method of strengthening your muscles.

This is what you do when you lift free weights, elastic exercise bands, or use adjustable commercial cable machines.

If you are already conditioned and used to this training it may be safe as long as you check with your doctor.

Be careful though. Heavy weights may cause injury and increase blood pressure in older adults.

Seek out professional advice if attempting a heavy weight elderly strength training program.

Elderly strength training and exercises for seniors tips

Picture119It is important to find just the right intensity when exercising for strength.

You must find a balance between  increasing how much you are lifting and preventing injury.

Generally you can increase the weight you are lifting after about two weeks of beginning elderly strength exercises.

  • You should be able to complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions in good form before increasing your weights.
  • Completing each repetition in good form means using the “up for 3, pause, down for 3” count. Wait 1 to 2 minutes between each set.
  • For example, if you find it easy to lift 2 pounds over  your head 20 times in a row, you should then begin using a 3 pound weight instead.
  • Remember not to progress if you are injured, have been sick, or your muscles are too sore.
  • It is OK to begin with very light resistance or no resistance at all.  Progress gradually and you will avoid injury and minimize soreness.
  • Try exercising at least 2 to 3 times per week with at least 48 hours between training sessions.
  • It is possible to strength train daily by alternating major muscle groups. For example you may work your legs on Monday and arms on Tuesday.
  • It is a good idea to obtain professional advice though before choosing to strengthen daily.

Remember, elderly and seniors strength training can be fun but will only show benefits if it is done regularly with the correct intensity.

Elderly strength training and exercises for seniors

The three major areas involved with strength include:

  • The trunk and back
  • The upper body
  • The lower body

There are 12 exercises below for each area.

To gain strength and build stamina to enjoy all your daily activities and hobbies, perform 2 or 3 exercises from each group, 3 times per week.

Alternate exercises every week until you have completed all twelve.

This will give you a balanced strength training routine.

Strengthen your core muscles for improved posture and balance.

Click on the videos you are interested in and learn how to perform them safely and correctly.

Watch These Trunk And Back Exercise Videos

1. Eccentric Straight Leg Raise

  • This exercise works your abdominal and hip flexor muscles which will improve your ability to get out of bed, get out of a chair and maintain your posture and help back muscle pain.

2. Bent Knee Raise

  • This back pain help exercise works your abdominal and hip flexor muscles which will improve your ability to get out of bed, rise up from a chair and maintain your standing posture.

3. Curl Ups

  • Abdominal back pain symptoms exercises help with posture and balance by strengthening your core muscles. Simple things like getting out of bed or up from a chair can become easier when your abdominal muscles are strong.

4. Cat and Camel

  • To stretch and extend the lower back and mid back muscles. Exercises for back pain and loosening up the pelvic area and learning the pelvic tilt.

5 Back Extension

  • To stretch and extend the lower back and mid back muscles. It can also help with mid back pain associated with postural strain. This will make it  easier to maintain good posture with sitting and
  •  standing.

6. Leg Extensions

  • To stretch and extend the lower back and hip pain muscles. It can also help with strengthening the pelvis and leg muscles reducing symptoms.

7. Bridging

  • These lower back pain exercises help strengthen the hip extensors, buttock muscles and hamstrings. It also helps strengthen the low back and sacroiliac. This can improve your ability to stand and maintain your balance.

8. Pelvic Tilt

  • To stretch the lower back and hip muscles. This is a great treatment for back pain exercise for tired or sore backs after a long day of walking!

9. Sit Backs

  • This back strengthening exercise will firm your abdominal muscles.
  • It will help your ability to get out of bed or up from a chair.

10. Arm Raises On Back

  • This back muscle exercise improves the range of motion in your upper back and shoulders.
  • When correctly stabilizing the lower back, this exercise will  help strengthen your postural muscles including the abdomina muscles.

11. Arm Raises On Knees

  • This back pain and exercise movement will improve your upper back and shoulder stability.
  • It is also  helpful in reaching to a high shelf, opening the refrigerator door or even combing your hair.

12. Hip Flexion

  • This lower back exercise will improve your lower back range of motion and flexibility.
  • It will help with activities such as doing the laundry, sweeping up with a dust pan or reaching to a low cupboard.

Did you know you can download the exercises along with a 4 week exercise program?

Watch These Lower Body Exercise Videos

Strengthen your leg muscles for improved mobility and safety.
1. Ankle Circles

  • This exercise improves your ankle flexibility and ability to move your ankle upward and downward.
  • This is a great warm up exercise for the lower leg and feet.

2. Hip Marching

  • This exercise will strengthen your hip flexor and thighs.
  • With correct seated posture it will also help your abdominal muscles.

3. Knee Extension

  • Strengthening your knees width knee strengthening exercises will improve your ability to stand and balance.
  • This exercise will improve your available knee range of motion.

4. Calf Raises

  • Strengthening your calf muscles with calf exercises will give your more power to step forward on level surfaces or carry you up hills on uneven terrain.
  • Helps pump blood up from your legs to your upper body and brain.

5. Standing Knee Flexion

  • These knee exercises strengthens your hamstring muscles.
  • Also helps with your standing balance.

6. Side Hip Raise

  • Safely strengthens your side hip muscles to help with hip arthritis.
  • Helps maintain your lower body endurance to better walk and side step around objects.

7. Sit to Stand

  • Excellent hip exercises to maintain your leg and hip strength.
  • One of the most important exercises used daily to keep your independence and confidence.

8. Heel Stand

  • Strengthens the front part of the lower leg with ankle stretches.
  • You will become better able to raise your toes to avoid tripping.

9. Lunges

  • To strengthen your quadriceps and hips with leg toning exercises.
  • Improve your ability to get out of a chair and balance.
  • Help you with lifting chores around the house.

10. Straight Leg Raise

  • To increase your quadriceps and hip flexor strength with this leg workout.
  • To strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • Allow you to advance your leg during walking with greater ease.

11. Partial Squats

  • Increase your hip flexibility, quadriceps strength and hip flexor strength.
  • Improve your ability to get up from a chair and walk.
  • Steady your body for better balance and safety.

12. Hip Extension

  • This exercise will help with strengthening the hip joint and muscles.
  • This will improve the ability to walk and propel  yourself forward or up stairs.

Did you know you can download the exercises along with a 4 week exercise program?

Watch These Upper Body Exercise Videos

Strengthen your arms, back and chest for improved daily function. Start with a one or two pound weight.
1. Bicep Curls

  • Strengthens the upper part of your arm with elbow exercises.
  • Will make lifting activities easier.

2. Overhead Elbow Extension

  • Strengthens your upper arm muscles with this arm workout.
  • Improves your ability to lift your arms above your shoulders when reaching high to a shelf.

3. Triceps Kickbacks

  • Strengthening and toning arm workouts.
  • Improves your ability to rise from a chair.
  • Makes reaching to a high shelf easier.

4. Diagonal Inward Shoulder Raise

  • Build the strength in your upper arm and back with arm training.
  • Increase the mobility of your shoulder for better arm swing while walking.
  • Add to your ability to reach overhead.

5. Diagonal Outward Shoulder Raise

  • Strengthens the upper arm, back and shoulders with arm toning.
  • Improves your shoulder mobility.
  • Increases your ability to comfortably reach overhead.

6. Shoulder Rolls

  • Improves the mobility with shoulder shrug.
  • Stabilizes your shoulder blades for heavier lifting.

7. Overhead Press

  • Improve the ability to safely reach overhead
  • Stabilizes the back muscles shoulder rehab exercises.
  • Increases the mobility of the shoulder joint.

8. Shoulder Press Lying Down

  • Improve the mobility of your shoulder and chest with shoulder rehabilitation exercises.
  • Increase your strength when reaching forward or lifting with two hands.

9. Upright Rows

  • Increase the strength in your upper arms and back with upper arm exercises.
  • Improve your ability to lift heavier objects around the house.
  • Assist in the mobility of your shoulder and elbow joints.

10.  Bent Over Rows

  • Strengthens your upper arm and back with shoulder workout.
  • Improves your ability to pull and lift.
  • Increase shoulder range of motion.

11. Side Shoulder Raises

  • Strengthen your upper arms, shoulders and chest with these best shoulder exercises.
  • Improve your daily activities like opening doors or pushing a shopping cart.

12. Elbow Side Extensions

  • Help strengthen your upper arm and shoulders with shoulder muscle workout.
  • Improve your ability to grip and pull as in opening a stuck refrigerator, moving a chair to vacuum,  or opening a sliding glass door.

Make sure to download my FREE ebook below to begin your 4 week senior exercise program!