Exercise for women over 50

You may be wondering if fitness for women over 50 is any different to fitness for younger women. Can mature women do the same moves as the younger ladies?

Well, that depends… If you are a mature woman who is not in bad shape to begin with, and you have no known health issues, you can potentially do the same workouts as the younger women.

The younger women may have more strength initially, but experience has taught me that generally, the older women have more endurance! They just tend to grit their teeth and do what needs to be done. They stick it out! I have seen women in the 50+ age group totally smoke their husbands and daughters in fitness tests doing sit-ups and other abs exercises.

Strength training for women over 50

Before Exercise
Before exercise 16 week program
After exercise
After consistent exercise – women 50+

Even if you are in bad shape and have not exercised for years, you can achieve a most satisfying level of fitness safely, by starting slowly and progressing as you get stronger. There is hope for you!

The main indicator of your success is consistency. Giving up won’t get you the results you deserve. Strength training is important for you to build up your bone density, as you lose bone density with aging.

Beware of injury – start slowly!

What I have observed is that most workout programs offered online, are offered by much younger women and men. Some of them are excellent. The only problem is that they have no idea of what it feels like to be an older woman, possibly menopausal, and possibly having a lot of weight to lose as well! They are simply not on the same page as you!

You just cannot do these programs to begin with. Some of the moves are physically impossible for you or can lead to injury.  You need somewhere to start.

I have worked through several such online programs myself. Got some great results. Only problem is, most of the women I personally have coached are nowhere near ready to undertake those types of programs without injury or being unable to walk for a week or more…most would be put off by this.

So how do I start as a beginner?

If you are very unfit right now but are keen to begin an exercise program (and you have been cleared by your doctor to exercise), then I suggest the following:

Step 1

Go for a brisk 10-minute walk to begin with, either outside or on the treadmill. You need to walk fast enough to raise your heart rate, raise a slight sweat, and still be able to talk although you should be a little breathless.

If you have access to an elliptical trainer, you can use it instead, also raising your heart rate and raising a slight sweat as above.

Step 2

Use a basic strength training format of push, pull, lunge, squat and plank exercises. This combination uses all your major muscle groups and builds your strength.

You will choose 1 of the 2 exercises for each type and perform 10 repetitions of each (except the plank, which you will hold for 20 seconds to start with). You will have no break in between each until the round is over.

For example: 10 x push ups-10 x upright rows – 10 x side lunges (each side) – 10 x chair squats – 1 x 20 second plank. Do one after the other.

Have a 2-minute break, then repeat again. Start with two rounds at first and do this twice per week. If two rounds is too easy, do it for 3 rounds.

The following week, do the exercises that you did not do in week 1. You will find videos for these here. Do 2 to 3 rounds as you can.

You can mix and match the basic exercises as you like. Progress by using heavier weights or increasing the reps.

If you don’t have dumbbells, fill soda bottles with sand and use those.

Push Exercises
    • Exercise 1: Push-ups (use modified knee push ups if you can’t do the full version)

  • Exercise 2: Shoulder press exercises (using 3 – 5lbs dumbbells)
Pull Exercises
    • Exercise 1: Upright rows with 3 – 5lbs dumbbells

  • Exercise 2: Bent over rows with dumbbells
Lunge Exercises
  • Exercise 1: Side Lunges

  • Exercise 2: Forward Lunges
Squat Exercises
    • Exercise 1: Chair squats – sit in a low chair and stand up repeatedly

  • Exercise 2: Normal squats
Plank Exercises
    • Exercise 1: Balancing on your elbows and toes – hold for 20 seconds

  • Exercise 2: Forward plank position – hold for 20 seconds

See video demonstrations for all Exercise #2 HERE.

Step 3

Cooldown program.

Upper body stretch – Stretch your arms above your head. Link your fingers together, palms facing upwards. Push up towards the ceiling. Hold for 15 seconds.

Bend at the waist, maintaining the linked hands. Push away from your body. Hold for 15 seconds.

Perform a triceps stretch. Lift both arms above your head. Bend your elbows, touch the bone behind your neck. Point your elbows towards the ceiling. Hold your left elbow with your right hand for 15 seconds, then swap over. You should feel a stretch in your triceps (back of your upper arms).

Lower body stretch – Sit on the floor, legs extended in a “v” position. Stretch your right hand over to your left foot. Hold for 15 seconds. Do the same with your left hand.

Lie on your back. Bend your knees. Clasp your knees towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds. Let go of one leg and stretch it flat on the floor whilst still clasping the other to your chest.