5 Best Daily Arm Exercises for Women After 50
Bone Health & Osteoporosis FoundationIf you're over 50, there are plenty of benefits to training your upper body to preserve and build its strength. One of the main ones is making daily tasks, chores, and activities seamless and pain-free, Michelle Ditto, training development manager for Pure Barre, explains. Just think about how much you use your arms during the day, from picking up grocery bags to doing household chores to gardening to playing sports like pickleball and tennis—they all depend on strength. In order to ensure your upper body remains in the best shape as you age, Ditto shares five of the best daily arm exercises for women to achieve strong, toned arms after 50.
To really work your arms, strength training is the name of the game. "Strength training directly helps to maintain bone density and mass, which is imperative for overall health and well-being, and can be a key factor for women specifically," Ditto tells us. According to the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF), an estimated one out of two women over 50 will suffer from bone breakage due to osteoporosis. And after women hit 30, their bone density declines. "This is not to spark fear, and in fact, a reignited focus on strength training, nutrition, and merely talking about the fact is helping to ensure that more women are able to take preventative measures earlier in life to mitigate osteoporosis and associated issues," Ditto adds.
Keep in mind that when training your upper body, working with both your body weight and added resistance can be an excellent pairing to soak up the benefits of safe strength training. Don't forget about your comfort level when it comes to pressing weights overhead, as some individuals may not feel comfortable doing so depending on how their joints function. And lastly, be mindful of any joints that are experiencing weakness or moderate pain. Exercise should not be painful, so it's always a smart idea to check in with a certified fitness or medical professional to make sure you're doing the right program for you.
If you're ready to give your fitness routine an update, keep reading for Ditto's best daily arm exercises for women after 50. Focus on your form, and get ready to boost your muscle strength and tone. "Remember that doing something is the best thing to do; you are so much stronger than you think," Ditto encourages.
The first of Ditto's arm exercises for women after 50 is the pushup. To perform pushups, position your hands under your shoulders, and bring your feet back so that your body forms a straight high plank. Keep your spine neutral and a strong core. Gradually bend at the elbows in order to lower your body toward the floor while keeping your form strong. Push through your hands to rise back up.
"To modify, feel free to come down to your knees, or find a wall, an edge of a couch, or a countertop, and place your hands there for an incline pushup. Pushups are an incredible full-body activity, but that promotes strength in the chest and shoulders through a weighted full range of motion. Your posture is paramount; focus there first, and a larger range of motion will come! Form is truly queen," Ditto stresses.
For bicep curls, you'll hold a light- to moderate-weighted dumbbell in both hands. Plant your feet hip-width distance apart, and maintain a tall stance. Bend both knees just a bit. Then, curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders before gradually lowering them back down.
"The beautiful thing about bicep curls is their versatility," Ditto says. "You can do these with myriad pieces of equipment, double-arm or single-arm variations, and using a variety of lower body static holds to increase intensity as you build strength. For an initial 'level up,' consider reciprocal curls, with one arm curling and one arm extending at the same time!"
For dumbbell bent-over rows, have a moderate to heavy dumbbell in both hands. Kneel down, and put the weights on the ground in front of you. In a tabletop position, keep your spine neutral, and activate your core. Then, with one arm, gradually bring your right elbow toward the top of your ribs so that the weight comes up to your hip. Slowly bring the weight back down. Complete the same motion on the other side.
"Bent-over rows target the back muscles and are a phenomenal core-strengthening exercise. From a kneeling position, you have a lot of assistance from the floor in helping you support your spine. If kneeling is less comfortable for you, you can also do a row from standing with the feet hip-width apart, a soft bend in the knees, and a hip hinge forward. Note that this may be a more [challenging] core posture to hold, so consider starting with one arm at a time, and using a wall or support for balance as needed," Ditto says.
Overhead Triceps Extensions
Overhead triceps extensions begin by planting your feet hip-width distance apart and parallel to each other. Bend your knees just a bit. Have a moderate to heavy dumbbell in each hand (or you can hold one with both hands), and press the weights overhead. Make sure your elbows don't stray far from the sides of your head as you use control to lower the dumbbells behind your head until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Then, straighten your arms as you press the dumbbells up. Gradually lower them back down.
"Your triceps are an incredibly important muscle group that makes up the back of your arm," Ditto explains. "Overhead triceps extensions are a great way to focus on posture and neck alignment as you build strength in your arms. As a variation, you can also do this with two moderate dumbbells in a hip hinge for triceps kickbacks instead, [which] can be a useful modification for shoulder or neck pain."
Last but not least in Ditto's recommended daily arm exercises for women over 50 is the lateral raise. Hold a light- to moderate-weight dumbbell in both hands. Plant your feet hip-width distance apart and parallel to each other. Your knees should be bent just a bit. Keep your arms by the sides of your body with your palm facing in. Then, lift your arms up and out to the sides before slowly bringing them back down.
"Similarly to biceps work, lateral raises are incredibly versatile in how you use equipment and how you pair them with lower body exercises," Ditto tells us. "Lateral raises target your shoulder muscles and allow you to focus on your posture and breathwork as you strengthen your upper body. As you get comfortable with the movement pattern, prioritize as long an arm as possible, with only a micro-bend in your elbow to ensure as much attention on your target shoulder muscle as possible! As needed, you can also do one arm at a time, or keep your elbows softly bent."