If you’re over 60 and want to get in better shape or stay fit while adding some muscle definition, the most impactful step you can take is to incorporate strength training exercises into your fitness routine. As you age, your muscle mass and strength naturally decline (a condition called sarcopenia), which can begin as early as 30 years old. That’s why it’s imperative to do strength training exercises to preserve muscle mass as you get older. Fortunately, we consulted active-aging expert Rosalind Frydberg, CPT, a certified personal trainer and ARORA coach and instructor at Life Time Woodbridge, to provide you with the six best exercises to tone your body after 60 and regain muscle mass.
Muscles that are strong and function properly help slow down aging and add healthy years to your life. How? By enhancing your ability to lead an active lifestyle and carry out daily tasks, such as lifting and moving heavy objects. In addition to maintaining muscle mass, strength training can boost your bone density, improve your mobility, and decrease your risk of suffering from falls, according to the Mayo Clinic—all of which significantly improve your quality of life.
Hopefully, you’re convinced strength training is required if you want to live a long and healthy life (looking great is just a bonus). If so, let’s dive into Frydberg’s best exercises to tone your body after 60 and stay in great shape. And next up, don’t miss The Best Indoor Cardio Workouts To Increase Stamina as You Age.
It’s time for an upper-body exercise after giving your legs a solid burn. With your feet planted on the resistance band, perform 10 single-arm bicep curls on each side, alternating between reps. “Be mindful of your wrist position. They should be flat as your arms curl up,” says Frydberg. “Go as high as you can, then lower slowly while flexing the bicep against the resistance for optimal results.” Repeat for three sets of 10 reps per arm with 30 to 45 seconds of rest between sets.
Lateral Walking + Tiny Pulses
For this exercise, grab a resistance band with one handle in each hand. Then, step on the band with both feet planted close together. Pull up on the band using your arms so there’s resistance and the band is taught. Walk laterally for six steps in either direction. Engage your thighs and core to perform the lateral step. “You’ll feel like you’re using your right leg when going right and left when moving left,” explains Frydberg. “Make sure you’re traveling in a straight line with one foot following the other.”
Do six steps in one direction, then six in the other. Next, pause and rest for 30 to 45 seconds before doing another round of six steps in each direction. Complete three rounds total. “After three rounds, pulse out your right leg while holding the band and both feet holding it on the ground. Do 10 pulses for each leg,” Frydberg instructs. “This is a great movement for stability and mobility as you age.”
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After bicep curls, you’ll move straight into hinged rows, an excellent exercise for toning muscles in your back, arms, chest, and quads. “Hold the resistance band handles in each hand, push back your tailbone while keeping your chest strong and head in line with the back,” Frydberg explains. “Pull up with both handles at the same time. Keep your back flat and pull your elbows up to your back pockets.” Perform three sets of ten reps with a 45 to 60-second rest between sets.
X Band to High Pull
Moving on to a shoulder exercise, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width distance apart and firmly planted on the resistance band. Switch your grip by crossing the handles so the band creates an X-shape. “Flex your abdominal muscles while pulling up on the band,” says Frydberg. “Keep your forearms and wrists flat (think of pulling upward to the chest. Your elbows should flare out.” Pause when the band reaches chest height and there’s the most resistance. Hold for one to two seconds before slowly lowering back to the starting position. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps. Rest for 45 to 60 seconds between sets.
Since the bicep curls you did earlier worked the front of your upper arms, it’s a good idea to do tricep extensions to target muscles in the back of your upper arms to tone the entire arm and help prevent muscular imbalances.
Start by laying the band on the floor while holding one handle in your right hand. Step on the band with your right foot. Keep in mind that the closer your foot is to the handle, the less resistance there’ll be in the band. Next, place your left foot slightly staggered in front of the band. While holding the handle, bring your right arm back so your elbow points to the sky. Extend your right arm slowly overhead until it’s close to straight but your elbows aren’t locked out. Pause for one to two seconds before slowly lowering your arm while keeping your elbow fixed.
“If this movement is too difficult, you can use your other arm to help push back the arm,” Frydberg says, adding, “This exercise will tone your triceps beautifully.” Perform three sets of eight reps per arm with 45 to 60 seconds of rest in between.
Single-Leg Hinge With Row
To round out this full-body resistance band workout with another lower-body exercise, let’s move on to the single-leg hinge (with a row added in to help tone your upper body). “This exercise strengthens your back muscles, tones your glutes, improves your balance, and tones your arms,” says Frydberg.
First, step your right foot on the resistance band while holding the handle in each hand. Maintain tension on both sides of the band, then step your left foot slightly behind you while keeping the toe pointing down. At the same time, push your tailbone back while hinging at the waist. Next, lift your leg as high as you can without turning out your hip. Pause at the top while balancing, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Perform three sets of six reps per leg with 30 to 45 seconds of rest in between.