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Lean-Body Workouts Everyone Over 50 Should Do, Says Trainer

Here are two great routines that will help you reach your goals fast.

Fact: As we continue to age into our 40s and 50s, our bodies begin to undergo radical changes. For starters, our sex hormones, such as testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), begin to drop. At the same time, we lose muscle mass, power, balance, and flexibility. So no matter what your goals or fitness level may be, if you're over the age of 50, you need to prioritize strength training at least 2-3 times per week because it's the closing thing we have to a fountain of youth. It's a scientific truth that building and maintaining our lean muscle keeps our metabolism revved high, helps us age well, and ensures us that we maintain a great quality of life.

Now, consider it a bonus that these workouts will also help you burn fat and get lean. With many of my clients who are 50 and up, we focus on strengthening certain key areas, chiefly the upper back, hips, legs, and core. Working these muscles, specifically, will keep them strong, injury free, and help them continue to do the daily activities they love—and play their favorite sports—indefinitely. But since they also target several major muscle groups—and they're terrific at burning fat—these routines, when paired with the right diet, are also great for slimming down.

If you're 50 or over, try the two following workouts I've provided below. If you can do 3 sets of either of these routines, at least 2-3 days per week, trust me: You will look and feel stronger and more athletic than you have in years. As a side note, when performing these strength training exercises, it's crucial to make sure that you're taking each movement through a full range of motion. This will help improve your flexibility, stability, and strengthen the muscle entirely. And for more great workout advice, don't miss these Exercise Tricks for Slimming Down Your Body Fast, Say Experts.

Workout 1: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (3×10 reps)

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Grab a pair of dumbbells and have them in front of you. Keeping your chest tall and knees soft, push your hips back while dragging the weights down your thigh. Once you get a nice hamstring stretch, drive your hips forward, squeezing your glutes to finish. For more great workouts to try, see here for an Incredible 10-Minute Workout for a Lean Body Fast, Says Top Trainer.

W1: Pushup (3×15-20 reps)


Start by getting in the pushup position with your arms locked out, wrists in line with your shoulders, and body in a complete straight line. Keeping your core tight and glutes squeezed, lower yourself (with control) until your chest touches the floor before pushing yourself back up, flexing your chest and triceps to finish.

W1: Dumbbell Row (3×10 reps each arm)

Dumbell Row

Position yourself parallel to a bench, with one leg on the floor, your opposite knee and hand firmly pressed into the bench. Grip the dumbbell with the opposite arm and begin the motion by pulling the dumbbell towards your hip, squeezing your lats and upper back at the very end of the movement. Straighten your arm afterward and get a nice stretch at the bottom before performing the next rep. And for more great exercise advice, don't miss The One Major Side Effect of Walking Every Day, According to Science.

W1: Dumbbell Reverse Lunges (3×10 reps each leg)

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

Keeping your chest tall and core tight, take one foot and step it back. Firmly plant your back foot, then lower yourself under control until the back knee touches the floor gently. Once the knee touches the floor, drive through the heel of the front heel to raise yourself back to starting position. Perform all reps on one leg before switching to the other.

W1: Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises (3×12-15 reps)

dumbbell bent over lateral raise

Grab a pair of dumbbells and get into position by pushing your hips back and bending your torso forward at least 45 degrees. Keeping your chest tall and knees soft with a slight elbow bend, pull the dumbbells back towards you. Squeeze the back of your shoulders, resist on the way back to starting position before performing another rep. And for more amazing workout advice, don't miss The Secret Exercise Tricks for a Better Body After 40, Say Experts.

Workout 2: Dumbbell Goblet Squat (x12 reps)

dumbbell goblet squat

Start by standing tall and holding a dumbbell close to your chest. Keeping your core tight, push your hips back and squat down until your hips are parallel to the ground. Drive through the heels and hips to stand back up, flexing your quads and glutes to finish

W2: Bodyweight Rows, using rings, TRX, or suspension straps (x15-20 reps)

bodyweight ring rows

To perform the bodyweight row, grab the equipment that is available to you. It can be rings (as I have here), it can be a bar, or it can be a TRX/suspension strap—whatever you've got. If you're using a strap, make sure to use a neutral grip (palms facing you). If you have a bar, you can either use the pronated (palms overhand) or supinated (underhand) grip.

Stick your feet forward and lean back slightly to at least 45 degrees. Keeping your core tight and hips high, pull yourself in by driving with your elbows towards your hips. Squeeze your lats and upper back hard to finish, then straighten your arms fully until your shoulder blades stretch at the bottom before performing another rep.

W2: Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press (3×10 reps)

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Start by having the dumbbells up next to your shoulders. Keeping your core tight and glutes squeezed, press the dumbbells up, flexing your shoulders and triceps at the top. Lower the weight under control before performing another rep.

W2: Step Ups (3×8 reps each leg)

step ups

Facing a bench or a box, plant one foot on it, and lean forward into it. Drive through the heel to rise up, flexing your quad and glute to finish. Once you reach the top, plant your other foot on the bench/box and immediately reverse the movement under control. Perform all reps on one leg before switching sides.

W2: Side Plank Leg Raise (3×6-8 reps each leg)

Side Plank with Leg Raise

Get into a side plank position with your shoulder in line with your wrist and feet stacked. Lift your hips up and forward and brace your core. Leading with your top leg, raise from the heel up as high as you can, flexing the glute at the end of the movement. Lower the leg under control back to starting position before performing another rep. And for more exercise news, make sure you're aware of The #1 Sign You Don't Exercise Enough, Says Science.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S., CSCS
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim