As we age, our bodies change — and that's totally normal. And while that may mean more challenge in some day-to-day activities, it's also an opportunity to evolve your approach to fitness for healthy aging.
"Most of my clients in their late 40s and 50s think they still have their 20-year-old bodies," says Latreal Mitchell, CPT, owner of No Excuses for Life training (who happens to turn 50 this year). And training too hard can cause some unwanted aches and pains.
General tightness and low-back pain aren't the only causes for concern in later life. People between the ages of 50 and 80 lose about 30 to 40 percent of their muscle mass, according to a December 2014 study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology.
But don't be discouraged because regular exercise can help address many of these issues. And this total-body workout for people over 50 is a good place to start. Flow through this routine (including the warm-up moves) two to three times per week, giving yourself at least a day of rest between workouts.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.
Although this is a quick warm-up routine, it's crucial for injury prevention. Rest for about 30 seconds (or more) between sets of exercises.
1. Long Half-Kneel Lunge with T Reach
- Start in the top of a traditional push-up position, with your hands directly below your shoulders, and your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- From this position, drop your left knee to the ground.
- Draw your right knee up and plant your right foot on the outside of your right hand.
- Keep your left hand planted firmly on the ground.
- Lift your right hand off the ground and reach for the ceiling, twisting your torso to the right.
- Hold here for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Return to the push-up position and do the stretch on the other side.
- Do the move, also called the world's greatest stretch, on each side three times.
2. High Plank to Downward-Facing Dog
- Get into a high plank position with your hands directly in line with your shoulders, body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Keeping your arms straight, press your hands into the ground and begin to lift your hips toward the ceiling.
- At the same time, press your chest toward your thighs, keeping your legs as straight as possible.
- Breathe in this position for 2 t0 4 breaths.
- Reverse the motion and come back to the high plank starting position.
- Continue alternating between the high plank and downward-facing dog position for 10 rounds.
Between each exercise, rest for 30 seconds before you go to the next move. Repeat this sequence for 3 sets total.
1. Kettlebell Split Squat
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Cup the ball of a kettlebell in both hands in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down and the handle pointing to the ground (in this position, the weight and your arms will look like a goblet).
- Take a large lunge step forward with your left foot so your feet are about 3 feet apart and parallel.
- Bend your front knee to 90 degrees until your shin is perpendicular to the floor, knee in line with the ankle.
- At the same time, bend your right knee to 90 degrees and lower down until it hovers just above the ground.
- Pressing into the heel of your left leg, straighten both knees to return to standing.
- Repeat for 15 seconds, then switch legs and repeat for another 15 seconds.
To make this move more challenging, hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides. Keeping the two weights stable gives your core some extra work.
2. Arnold Kettlebell Press
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a pair of kettlebells in front of your chest with elbows bent, palms facing your body. The ball of the weights should rest against the outside of your forearms.
- Maintaining an upright torso and neutral back, press the weights straight up while twisting your hands so your palms face forward.
- Reverse the move, twisting your palms to face you as you control the weights and bend your elbows to return to the starting position.
To modify this exercise, press one weight at a time, alternating arms for each repetition.
3. Glute Bridge
- Lie down on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides, palms up.
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor, squeeze your glutes to raise your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Pause for a second at the top of the exercise, and then slowly return to the start position.
As you raise up into your glute bridge, keep both feet flat on the ground.
4. Inverted Row
- Set up a barbell (or sturdy bar) to about hip height.
- Lie on the ground under the bar so that it's in line with your shoulders.
- Reach your arms up and grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder distance.
- Hold your body in the air in a straight line from head to hips to heels. Root your heels into the floor, toes pointed toward the ceiling. This is the starting posi
- Keeping this rigid body line, pull your chest to the bar by squeezing your shoulder blades together and bending your elbows.
- Control your body as you lower back to the start position, straightening your arms.
- Stand with a kettlebell on the outside of each foot.
- Push your hips back and squat down and lift the dumbbells, driving through your heels to stand up.
- Pull your shoulders back and keep your head directly in line with your shoulders.
- Walk forward, keeping the dumbbells at your sides, for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Place the dumbbells on the floor, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 4 times.
Choose a comfortably heavy weight for these. Farmers' walks are great for burning calories, improving posture and building functional strength needed for day-to-day tasks.