When it comes to taking amazing care of your body as you age, this is the perfect saying: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The tough truth is that for many individuals over 50, it's very common to experience joint and muscle issues. Even worse, injury risks increase because the body isn't as robust as before. The great news is, if you spend the time now to strengthen critical areas of your body, it can lead to decades of free, healthy movement and a fun, active lifestyle. Read on for the nine best strength exercises to prevent injury after 50. These moves support your body and can even alleviate any current problem areas!
1. Hip Bridges
Everyone should do a hip bridge. This exercise activates and strengthens the critical muscles in your glutes and hamstrings, which can prevent back and knee problems, in an extremely safe and simple way.
To set up, you'll first lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet planted flat on the floor. Drive through your heels, and squeeze your glutes to push your hips up. Repeat. Do not use your lower back you pull yourself up.
Like the hip bridge, pull-throughs are fantastic at strengthening your backside. The extra benefit is this exercise teaches you how to bend at your hips correctly—without using your lower back—which can help you avoid throwing your back out.
To begin, face away from a cable machine, set the height to the lowest setting, and grab the ends of the cable-rope attachment between your legs. While maintaining a neutral back and straight elbows, start with your torso almost parallel to the ground with slightly bent knees. Extend your hips, and stand tall.
3. Cable Rows
For many individuals, achy shoulders are a symptom of years and years of poor posture and incorrect movement patterns. By using cable rows, you can reverse the damage, put your shoulder back in the correct position, and take pressure off the joints.
To get started, 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. Once you finish all your reps, switch sides.
4. Farmer's Carry
This exercise builds functional strength; it targets your core, your conditioning, and your total-body stability. It also enhances your posture and grip, which can help with daily chores or tasks.
The farmer's carry is actually quite simple to perform. Grab a heavy dumbbell with each hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, and walk.
5. Bear Crawls
Crawls are a rarely-used exercise that can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength and stability around all your joints and muscles. They're extremely safe and pack a lot of benefits into such a simple movement.
Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.
6. Tall-Kneeling Pallof Press
Everyone needs better core strength; it protects your lower back, increases your physical abilities, and supports your body in virtually every movement. By getting on both knees, you keep your lower back in a safe position and increase the challenge on your midsection.
To begin, get on both knees, and set a cable handle to chest height. While facing perpendicular to the cable, bring the handle to your chest. Brace your core, squeeze your glutes, and keep your shoulders and hips directly over your knees. Push the handle straight forward, and hold for three seconds. Bring it back to your chest, and repeat. Then, switch sides, and repeat.
7. Lat Pulldowns
This is a great exercise to build strength in your upper back, arms, and grip. Also, for people with shoulder pain, doing pulling exercises such as lat pulldowns can really help alleviate the pressure in your joints as well as enhance your posture.
Sit at a lat pulldown machine, and grab the handle about shoulder-width apart with your palms facing away. Keep your torso upright, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull the bar toward your collarbone. Keep your chest up as you pull.
8. Goblet Squats
The goblet squat is one of the best exercises to prevent injury after 50 and build total-body strength. This move blasts all the muscles in your lower body, and because you carry the weight in front of you, it strengthens your core and upper body simultaneously.
Grab the end of one dumbbell in both hands, and hold it by your chest with your elbows underneath. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels, and keep your knees apart.
9. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
The deadlift is the last of the best exercises to prevent injury after 50. Deadlifts are amazing at protecting your lower back, hips, knees, and more while building lots of strength and muscle. By doing a single-leg variation, you increase the challenge on your glutes and even enhance your balance and core stability.
With dumbbells in your hands, slowly bend forward, and pull one leg behind. Once the weights are below your knees, drive back up, and squeeze with your glute. Don't twist your hips to the side—keep them square and faced forward.