The Only 3 Resistance Band Exercises You Need Over 60

Seniors, or people over 60, can use resistance bands to strength train without adding pressure to their joints.
Image Credit: Cavan Images/Cavan/GettyImages

If you're over 60, lifting heavy weights might be an idea you reserve for your millennial grandchildren, especially if you're dealing with back pain and achy joints. But you can still get a great strength workout and build stronger muscles using resistance bands, without putting additional strain on your joints.

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As you age, you want to make strength workouts a priority in your routine because they are crucial for maintaining muscle mass. Research from a June 2014 article in ​Current Opinions in Rheumatology​ shows that you can lose up to 50 percent muscle mass by age 80 and that this decline starts as early as your 40s.

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"As a trainer, strength training is part of my daily coaching regime with all of my clients," Serena Scanzillo, a personal trainer with years of experience training older adults, tells LIVESTRONG.com "It builds strength, combats fragility and improves functionality, especially in older adults."

Resistance bands are not only lightweight, inexpensive and space-efficient, but you can also include them in your dumbbell workout to naturally increase the load.

"However, free weight training may not always be in the cards for some folks," Scanzillo says, [especially] if they don't have someone nearby helping them navigate proper form. Resistance bands can solve this problem and provide an amazingly useful alternative for folks looking to up the intensity of their workouts without the added stress of dumbbells."

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To help you get started, Scanzillo provides the best three resistance band exercises you need as an adult over 60. You'll need a mini band for all three moves.

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The Best Resistance Band Exercises for People Over 60

Move 1: Scapular Retraction

Move 1: Scapular Retraction
Image Credit: Serena Scanzillo/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 10
Body Part Shoulders
  1. Loop the resistance band around your wrists. Position your arms at a 90-degree angle with your palms facing each other and fingers pointing to the ceiling.
  2. Brace your core and slowly rotate your elbows outward, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Be careful not to arch your back and keep your tummy tucked tight.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades for two seconds before releasing and returning your arms to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Complete 2 to 3 sets.

Why Scapular Retractions Work

Your scapula is the bone that connects your humerus (upper arm bone) to your clavicle (collarbone), also known as your shoulder blade, according to the American Council on Exercise. The scapulae and arms are connected by various muscles, ligaments and tendons, and when those tissues get weak, it can lead to poor posture, Scanzillo says.

A common sign of weak scapular muscles is rounded shoulders and a protruding neck (also known as forward head posture), according to a June 2018 study in theJournal of Physical Therapy Science.

Poor posture can also lead to pain in the upper back, neck and shoulders, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Move 2: Scissor Toe Tap

Move 2: Scissor Toe Tap
Image Credit: Serena Scanzillo/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 10
Region Full Body
  1. Loop the resistance band around your ankles and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step your left foot back at a 45-degree angle, keeping your hips square and facing forward. Avoid rotating your spine. You should feel the tension in your left hamstring and hip.
  3. Pause for two to three seconds before bringing your left foot back to the center. This is one rep.
  4. Repeat on the right side and alternate legs for 10 to 12 reps. Complete 2 to 3 sets, resting 30 to 60 seconds in between.

Why Scissor Toe Taps Work

The muscles that control your hips also get weaker with age and a sedentary lifestyle. Many older adults experience pain in their hips and lower back, much of which could be helped or reversed by strengthening the core, glutes and hamstrings, Scanzillo says.

This move may look like a lower-body isolation exercise, but the staggered stance requires you to engage your core and brace your entire body — even your back and arms — throughout the movement. In addition to your core, scissor toe taps target your hamstrings and glutes. They may fire up your heart and lungs, too.

Move 3: Lateral Crab Walk

Move 3: Lateral Crab Walk
Image Credit: Serena Scanzillo/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 10
Body Part Legs
  1. Loop the resistance band around your ankles and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Engage your core and step your left foot out to the side. It should travel laterally, directly away from your body, rather than forward or backward.
  3. Hold and squeeze your outer thighs for two to three seconds before bringing your left foot back to the center. This is one rep.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side and alternate for 10 to 12 reps. Complete 2 to 3 sets, resting 30 to 60 seconds in between.

Why Lateral Crab Walks Work

The lateral crab walk is similar to the scissor toe tap, but it works your lower-body muscles in a slightly different way.

Lateral crab walks with a mini resistance band isolate your hip abductors (muscles that move your legs outward) and hip adductors (muscles that move your legs inward) and strengthen your hips to improve balance and stability — two key factors in maintaining your health as an older adult, Scanzillo says.

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