7 Best Strength Exercises To Look & Feel Younger
Not only are you giving your mental health a boost by performing an invigorating workout—you're also helping your body look and feel younger than your age. Exercise is one of the major keys to keeping your bones and muscles in good health, which becomes more crucial than ever as you grow older. By performing regular strength training, you're giving it your best shot at continuing to lead the independent lifestyle you love most. We spoke with Luke Elion, a NASM-certified physical trainer who specializes in powerlifting, strength training, hypertrophy, and HIIT, who breaks down some of the best strength exercises to look and feel younger.
If you want to maintain a fit, toned, and younger-looking body well into older age, strength training is the name of the game. "Strength training is important and productive because it burns many calories and helps increase your muscle mass very effectively," Elion explains. "It will help keep you young and feel full of energy."
In addition, a recent study published in Scientific Reports reveals that performing resistance exercises is an excellent way to revitalize aging skin by decreasing "circulating inflammatory factors." In layman's terms, it's an incredible anti-aging tactic for your skin.
So are you ready to get started? Keep reading for Elion's best strength exercises to look and feel younger. To begin, perform three sets of 10 reps for each movement. And when you're finished, don't miss out on these 5 Best Exercises for Men Over 50 To Live Longer.
These exercises kick off with kettlebell squats, which Elion calls a "fan favorite." He explains, "The KB squat is one of my favorite strength exercises to keep in shape. This is because it actively uses a ton of muscles, most notably your core and almost your entire lower body. What makes this exercise so great is that it is very easy to regress the movement, or advance it. While this trait is not unique to this exercise, it has a very low bar of entry and will keep you feeling fit, young, and strong no matter what age."
Begin by holding a kettlebell with both hands up by your chest. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart. Press your hips back as you descend into a squat until your thighs become parallel to the ground. Then, press back up to the standing position.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Up next is the Bulgarian split squat. This variation of a squat is an essential move to develop strength, with a major emphasis on unilateral strength and stability. "This exercise can also be regressed to a normal split squat if you don't have the balance, or can of course be taken up a notch if it is too easy. This is a perfect exercise for staying fit, especially for those who need to keep their sense of balance," Elion tells us.
Begin by standing a couple of feet away from a sturdy bench. Place the top of one foot on the bench for stability. The real work will come from your front leg. Bend your front knee to lower into a split squat until your thigh becomes parallel to the ground. Press through your front foot in order to rise back up. Repeat on the opposite side.
Now, gear up for hip thrusts. "Whether you have a machine, a barbell, or just your body weight, this exercise should not be skipped," Elion stresses. "The primary mover is the glutes; enough said. This exercise is so good for you, and a necessity for training. If you want a nice butt, you need to try these out."
To set up, position your upper back and arms extended on a workout bench. Bend both knees and plant your feet on the ground. Press through your heels in order to lift your hips until your body is straight from your head to your knees. Squeeze your buttocks at the top before using control to lower back down.
"My next choice is classically a favorite among men, but women should not shy away from adding these to their routine," Elion explains. "The chest press, in any shape or form, is essential to improving overall strength. It helps tone and strengthen three major muscle groups: the chest, the triceps, and the shoulders. So if you want to tone up your upper body, I would try my very hardest to add one to my gym routine if I were you."
For chest presses, lie down on a workout bench, firmly place your feet on the ground, and hold a dumbbell in both hands. Hold the weights by your chest—palms facing forward—before pressing them over it until your arms are extended. Use control to lower the weights back toward your chest.
"The row targets another huge amount of muscle groups, making it an efficient calorie burner," says Elion. "The row directly helps strengthen the shoulders, the upper back, the mid back, the forearms, and the biceps."
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip with your arms extended at your sides. Hinge forward while keeping your back straight. Next, row the dumbbells up toward your ribs. Use control to lower them back down.
"Another exercise that will help you look nice and toned is the lateral shoulder raise," Elion tells us. "This exercise uses most of the shoulder muscles and will help give your arms the shape you are looking for."
Stand tall with your feet planted shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should face inward and your arms should be at your sides. Keep your chest tall and your core engaged as you lift the weights out to your sides until you reach shoulder height. Use control as you lower your arms.
The final strength exercise on our list is the deadlift. Elion calls it "a very scary name for a relatively difficult exercise." He adds, "This is the hardest of the group, with the highest bar for entry simply because a large majority of people do not know how to hinge at their hip properly. If learned properly, and I would advise [you] to learn this with a coach, then you will feel at the top of your game. The deadlift is an excellent strength exercise that uses the whole pelvic-hip complex, the hamstrings, the glutes, the quads, the low back, and the core."
Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand using an overhand grip, keeping the weights at your sides. Engage your core and press your hips back as you lower the weights down your thighs until they're mid-shin level. Press through your feet and hinge your hips forward to bring the weights back up.