Skip to content

7 Compound Exercises To Change Your Body Shape Before You Reach 50

Getting a jump on the aging process is a must to improve your health and longevity.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Getting a jump on the aging process is a must if you want to improve your health span, longevity, and quality of life as you approach your golden years. You cannot afford to wait until your 50s to get into shape if you are serious about delaying the inevitable aging process. The most effective way to leverage exercise to delay aging is by using compound exercises in your workout routine. We've rounded up seven compound exercises to change your body shape before 50.

Compound exercises, also called compound movements, are exercise techniques that use multiple joints and essentially mimic actual movements you would perform in your day-to-day activities. Compound exercises hit multiple muscle groups with each repetition, giving you more bang for your buck when it comes to efficiently hit your fitness goals.

Additionally, training using functional movements means that you actually get "better" at daily life. For example, maintaining your ability to sit, stand, climb stairs, reach for objects overhead, and other basic daily living activities can all be effectively maintained using compound exercises. Furthermore, compound movements are much better at building muscle and strength than just doing isolation exercises.

The following is our top-recommended list of the seven best compound exercises to change your body shape before 50. Don't get us wrong—even if you've passed the "big 5-0," you should still be doing these. However, getting the proverbial jump on it before you hit your half-a-century mark is by far the best option.

Perform each exercise for eight to 12 repetitions for the best combination of muscle growth, strength, muscular endurance, and functional movement capacity. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets, and perform three total sets. We recommend doing this routine at least twice a week, but no more than four times a week to ensure proper recovery.

Keep reading to learn all about the seven best compound exercises to change your body shape before 50.


illustration of squats

Squats are the king/queen of lower-body exercises, as they work multiple muscle groups simultaneously in a functional pattern while improving lower-body strength, mobility, and muscle tone. Squats primarily hit your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. You can perform them with a barbell, dumbbells held in each hand, or just with your body weight.

To perform bodyweight squats, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, and keep your core engaged and chest up as you lower. Continue lowering until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor, or lower if possible. Do not allow your knees to cave inward. Push through your entire foot on both legs to return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.

The Best Arm-Strengthening Exercises After Age 40


illustration of dumbbell deadlifts free weight exercises for men to build muscle

Deadlifts are a close second to squats in terms of the best lower-body compound movements. Deadlifts target the posterior chain, including your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and upper back. You will need some form of external weight to properly do deadlifts. We recommend barbells or two dumbbells if you have access to a standard gym.

To perform deadlifts, position your feet hip-width apart with a barbell or two dumbbells in front of you. Hinge at your hips, and bend your knees slightly to lower your body and grasp the weight with an overhand grip. Keeping your back straight and core engaged, lift the weight by extending your hips and knees simultaneously. Once you reach a fully upright position, lower the weight back down by hinging at the hips and bending your knees. Repeat for target repetitions.

Bench Press

barbell bench press illustration

The bench press is a classic compound exercise that builds upper-body strength and improves your overall pushing power. Dumbbell bench pressing since is far more forgiving on your shoulders compared to traditional barbell benching. The bench press exercise primarily hits your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

To perform the dumbbell bench press, lie on a flat bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground and dumbbells held next to your chest. Press the dumbbells upward while bringing them together over your neck/upper chest area until your arms are locked out. Reverse the motion, and lower them back to your chest in a controlled manner. Repeat for target repetitions.

9 Best Strength Exercises To Help You Prevent Injury After 50

Bent-Over Row

middle-aged man doing dumbbell bent-over row exercise

The bent-over row is an excellent compound exercise that targets the muscles in your upper back. Single-arm dumbbell rows provide the best combination of safety and efficacy. The dumbbell bent-over row hits your upper back, biceps, and forearms, improving both grip and pulling strength.

To perform a dumbbell bent-over row, stand in front of a bench roughly knee height with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell held in one hand. Hinge at your hips, bend your knees slightly, and place your non-dumbbell hand on the bench. Keep your back straight and your chest up. Row the dumbbell toward your chest by retracting your shoulder blade and bending your elbow. Imagine you are "crushing an orange" in your armpit area for an internal mind-muscle cue. Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position until your arm is fully extended. Repeat for target repetitions.


mature man doing pull-ups at the gym

Pull-ups are an excellent upper-body compound exercise for developing upper-body strength. This move will also help improve your grip strength and shoulder stability. If you cannot perform a standard pull-up, use an assisted pull-up machine or opt for a lat pulldown (technique not discussed here). Pull-ups primarily hit your lats with additional biceps, shoulder, and forearm work as well. You can use an overhand, neutral, or reverse grip.

To perform pull-ups, hang onto a pull-up bar with your selected grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your body upward by engaging your shoulder blades and squeezing your lats. Visualize "bringing your elbows towards your hips" for an internal cue. Aim to reach the bar with your chest. Slowly reverse the position. Repeat for target repetitions.

9 Fitness Habits That Are Destroying Your Body Before You Reach 50


woman demonstrating lunges with dumbbells to boost your muscular endurance

The lunge is an amazing lower-body exercise that promotes functional strength, balance, and coordination while targeting your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. We recommend performing walking lunges while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Be sure to perform the reps on both sides.

To perform lunges, stand with your feet hip-width apart holding the dumbbells by your sides. Take a large step forward with one foot, keeping your core engaged and your chest upright. Lower your body by bending both knees until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your back knee is hovering just above the floor. The best range of motion can be found by slightly rotating your back foot inward as you lower your knee. Push through your front foot, and step your back foot all the way forward into the next lunge. Repeat for target repetitions on both sides.

Shoulder Press

dumbbell overhead press exercise

The last of these compound exercises to change your body shape before 50 is the shoulder press. This exercise is great for maintaining the ability to reach overhead, such as grabbing a heavy container from the shelf. As an exercise, it hits your shoulder muscles and triceps. We recommend performing shoulder presses with dumbbells for the safest method, but you can do them with a barbell as well.

To perform the shoulder press, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height, positioned on either side of your head. Press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended, be careful not to lock your elbows. Lower the weight back down to the starting position in a controlled manner. Repeat for target repetitions.

Tyler Read
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler
Filed Under