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10 Strength Exercises for Women To Get Their Pre-40s Body Back

Reclaim your fit, ultra-toned physique by following these moves.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

If you're looking to get back into shape and reclaim your pre-40s physique, listen up. We spoke with experts who break down some of the best strength exercises for women to get back to their pre-40s bodies. These moves will boost your core, leg, and upper-body strength—not to mention making you feel all-around fantastic. Strength training is king—or shall we say, queen—for more than a few reasons, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to sculpt a lean, toned physique and keep it as you age.

"Strength-focused exercises are an incredibly productive form of training, especially for older women seeking to get fit, toned, and lose a bit of weight," explains Sydney Yeomans, CPT and director of fitness for BODY20. "As we age, our muscle mass naturally declines, but engaging in regular strength training helps counteract that process by targeting muscle areas to promote growth and toning. Building up more muscle from strength workouts boosts the metabolism, which is effective for weight loss efforts."

Boosting muscle while increasing your metabolism can help you shrink belly fat and improve your fitness. Combine strength training with a nutritious diet, and you'll be pleased with the results. So keep reading to discover 10 expert-approved strength exercises for women to get back to their pre-4os body. And when you're finished, don't miss these 7 Must-Try Exercises for a Slimmer Core in Just 30 Days.


squat illustration

The first exercise Yeomans recommends is good old-fashioned squats. Begin by planting your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest tall and your back straight. Activate your core. Bend both knees and hinge your hips back to lower into a squat. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the floor or lower, while making sure your knees don't go over your toes. Press through your feet to rise back up. Complete four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

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reverse lunges

For lunges, stand tall with your feet planted hip-width apart. Maintain a tall upper body and an activated core. Step forward with your right leg, and bend your knees to descend into a lunge. Lower until your knees form 90-degree angles and your back knee almost touches the floor. Press through your heels to rise back up. Repeat on the opposite side. Complete four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Sumo Squats

plie sumo squats

"Unlike a standard squat, you'll want to start a sumo squat standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart," Yeomans instructs. "Turn your toes slightly outward. Keep your chest up and your back straight." From there, bend both knees and hinge your hips back to descend into a squat. This time around, the goal is to lower your knees so they're a bit over your toes. Then, press yourself back up through your heels, activating your leg muscles and buttocks as you do. Complete four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

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Good Mornings

good morning exercise

The so-called 'good morning' exercise begins with your feet planted shoulder-distance apart. Place your hands at the back of your head. Maintain a straight back, slightly bent knees, and an activated core. From there, Yeomans instructs, "Hinge at your hips so you're leaning forward until your upper body is about parallel to the ground or until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Hold this position for a moment, and then engage your lower back to return to the starting position." Perform four sets of 10 to 12 reps.


pushups illustration

Begin pushups in a high plank; place your hands below your shoulders, and kick your legs out behind you so your body forms a straight line. Bend at the elbows to lower your chest toward the ground. Make sure your elbows stay close to the sides of your body as you do so. Press through your hands to lift back up until your arms are straight. Keep your core activated, and don't arch your back or allow your hips to sag. Perform four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

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Plank Shoulder Taps

plank shoulder taps

Plank shoulder taps begin in a high plank with your arms and legs extended. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Don't arch your back. Activate your core muscles for stability. Lift your right hand off the floor, and tap it on your left shoulder. Lower it back down, and repeat with your left hand. Continue to alternate sides, ensuring the rest of your body remains still. Complete four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Side Plank Hip Dips

side plank hip dip, strength exercises for women

Next up, we've got side plank hip dips. The side plank hip dip starts on the floor. Lie down on your right side, stacking your left leg on top of your right. Make sure your right elbow is below your shoulder and your forearm is on the ground to lift your upper body and hips. Then, lower—or "dip"—your hips toward the floor before pressing them back up to a side plank. Complete this exercise for 10 reps, then switch over to the other side for an additional 10 reps.

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illustration of burpees, strength exercises for women

Josh York, CPT, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ, recommends incorporating burpees into your strength routine. This exercise begins with you placing your feet shoulder-distance apart on the floor. Engage your abs as you lower into a high plank with your hands below your shoulders and your legs kicked back behind you. Do a pushup. Then, jump your feet forward to meet your hands. Explosively jump up as you lift both arms overhead. Complete three sets of 20 reps.

Bicep Curls

illustration, concept of strength exercises for women

Set up for bicep curls by placing your feet hip-distance apart. Have a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended and palms facing ahead of you. Engage your abs as you curl the dumbells up to your shoulders. Keep your elbows close to your sides during the curl and as you lower the weights back down. Perform three sets of 20 reps.

Mountain Climbers

mountain climbers illustration, strength exercises for women

Last but not least, York recommends the mountain climber. Start in a high plank, place your hands below your shoulders, and kick your legs out behind you so they're extended. Quickly bring one knee up to your chest, then bring it back behind you. Repeat with your opposite knee, and continue to alternate. Perform three sets of 20 reps.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa