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13 Most Effective Exercises To Slow Muscle Aging

Trainers share their must-try exercises to slow down muscle aging.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Let's talk about aging. One of the most challenging aspects of growing older is experiencing changes in your body. As you age, research shows that your physical fitness starts to decline, and you lose agility, strength, flexibility, and endurance. In addition, your muscle mass decreases every 10 years after you turn 30—and this decline speeds up after you hit 60. Don't fret, because you can prevent this natural decline, and we're here to help with just that. We've put together the most effective exercises to slow muscle aging, so lace up your sneakers, and let's get to it.

With smart resistance training exercises on deck, you'll have a solid fitness plan that'll help you build bigger muscles and even improve your joint health, bone strength, and overall cardiovascular fitness. Here are the best exercises to slow muscle aging. They're highly effective and easy to learn and perform. Read on to learn more, and when you're finished, be sure to check out Study Reveals New 'Magic Number' of Daily Steps You Need for a Longer Life.

Dumbbell Squats

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First on this list of exercises to slow muscle aging is the dumbbell squat. Begin by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Stand up straight with your feet a bit outside your shoulder span. With your chest tall and your core tight, hinge your hips back, and squat down until the weights are just below your shins. Push through your heels to rise back up to standing. Flex your glutes and quads to finish the motion. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps.

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Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Begin your incline dumbbell bench press by lying back on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Push the weights straight above your body as you completely extend your arms. Pull your shoulders back and down into the workout bench as you lower the dumbbells toward your torso. Feel a solid stretch at the bottom of the motion before pushing the weights back up to where you started. Squeeze your upper pecs and triceps at the top. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps.

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Rows

Adjust the workout bench at an incline—at least 30 to 45 degrees. Grab two dumbbells, position your chest on the pad, and keep your legs straight or your knees on the seat of the bench. Straighten both arms, and start to pull the weights in with your elbows. Squeeze your lats at the end of the movement. Then, lower the weights down to get a full stretch before moving on to the next rep. Perform three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

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Dumbbell Reverse Lunges

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Dumbbell reverse lunges start with you standing tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big stride back with one of your legs, firmly planting that heel on the floor. Then, lower yourself into a lunge until your back knee touches the floor. Push yourself up through your front leg, then repeat with the opposite side. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps for each leg.

Hammer Curls

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Grab your dumbbells once more for hammer curls. Both hands should face each other with a neutral grip. Pull your shoulders back as you curl the weights up, flexing your biceps and forearms. Squeeze hard at the top of the hammer curl, then resist as you lower the weights. Perform three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Hand-Release Pushups

Assume a pushup position. Your shoulders should be in line with your wrists and your back should stay straight. Keeping your core tight and your glutes squeezed, lower yourself with control until your whole body is on the floor. Once you reach the bottom, take your hands off the ground, then place them back to push your body back up to the starting position. Flex your triceps and chest at the top to finish before performing another rep. Perform 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Lateral Lunges

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Next on this list of exercises to slow muscle aging is the lateral lunge. Step out to the side, firmly planting your heel on the floor. Then, lower into a lateral lunge with control. As you lower down, straighten your trailing leg. Get a solid inner thigh stretch at the bottom of the motion, then drive your heel back to get back to the starting position before performing another rep. Complete three sets of 10 reps with each leg.

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Heel-Elevated Single-Leg Glute Bridges

Position your heel on top of an elevated, sturdy surface with your knee bent and your other leg raised in the air. Keep your core tight, and push through the heel and the hip of the working leg, extending your hip all the way up. Flex your glute hard at the top of the motion, then lower your body back to the ground, maintaining control, before performing another rep. Complete three sets of 15 reps with each leg.

Split Squats

front lunge exercise
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Squats are an amazing way to build muscle, strength, and power in your lower body. This variation is easier on your joints and improves your balance and stability, which is vital as you age.

To perform split squats, stand with one foot about three feet in front of the other so that your knees make two 90-degree angles at the bottom. Drop straight down, and drive with your front heel. Don't let your front knee drift past your toe.

Pushups

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The pushup is the best upper-body exercise you can do, whether you're a professional athlete or a beginner. It strengthens the muscles in your chest, shoulders, arms, and even core!

Get into a pushup position with your hands about shoulder-width distance apart. Keep your lower back flat, and don't let your hips sag. Lower your body, and keep your elbows close to your torso as you descend. To make this exercise more challenging, elevate your feet, and to make it easier, elevate your hands on a bench.

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Single-Arm Cable Rows

Rows are an essential exercise to target your upper back and arms. With a strong back, you'll maintain better posture, enjoy your healthier shoulders, and even see that strength carry over to the rest of your body!

Set a cable handle to chest height. Grab the handle, take a step back, and stand facing the cable. Start the movement by pulling your shoulder blade toward your midline, and row without twisting your torso. Then, switch sides.

Single-Arm Farmers Carries

Carriers are one of the easiest ways to build total-body strength, core stability, and better conditioning. This also carries over to daily life: Imagine carrying your groceries with ease!

To properly perform the movement, grab a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell with one hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, and walk while keeping your body level.

Hip/Thigh Extensions

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This list of exercises to slow muscle aging wraps up with the hip/thigh extension. This is a super easy exercise to do to strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, and more. This is important because hip strength is the cornerstone of athletic performance: The stronger your hips, the stronger the rest of your body will be. Strong hips also mean happy knees and a happy lower back.

To set up, lie on your back, and bend one knee so that it makes a 90-degree angle. Stick the other leg straight out. With your bent leg, squeeze your glute, push through your heel, push your hips up, and keep your hips level as you rise. Keep your straight leg extended throughout the exercise, and keep it in line with your torso.

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony
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