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9 Strength Exercises To Slow Muscle Aging

These trainer-recommended moves will boost your quality of life.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Let's face it: Getting older is no walk in the park. However, staying physically fit and active can drastically impact your quality of life as you age. One often overlooked aspect of healthy aging is maintaining muscle mass and strength. Neglecting muscle strength as you age can decrease mobility, energy, and overall well-being. Fortunately, the good news is that incorporating strength training exercises into your fitness routine is a simple yet effective way to slow down this natural process and add healthy years to your life. We spoke with Michael Masi, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews, to find out the best strength exercises to slow muscle aging.

"Strength training is a fantastic way to counteract the natural decline in muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging," Masi tells us. "Regular strength training can increase bone density, improve muscle function, and boost metabolism, making it a crucial component of healthy aging."

And the best part? The following strength exercises are classic movements that aren't overly complicated or time-consuming. Keep reading for detailed breakdowns of the best strength exercises to slow muscle aging, then don't miss How Rob Lowe Looks Like This at 59.


squat illustration

The first of these recommended strength exercises to slow muscle aging is the squat. Squats are a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including your core and back, to improve balance and strength. "Squats work the large muscle groups in the lower body, including the quadriceps and glutes," states Masi. "They help maintain lower-body strength, improve balance, and preserve joint health. They also target the spinal extensors and stabilizing muscles around the spine, which may help reduce [your] risk for lower back pain."

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and your chest up. As you bend your knees, push your hips back like you're about to sit in a chair. Go as low as your flexibility allows, aiming for thighs parallel to the ground. Make sure your knees don't overshoot your toes. Then, push through your heels to stand back up, engaging your glutes and quads. Complete three sets of 12 reps, and aim to do them one to three times per week.

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barbell deadlift

"Deadlifts are another compound exercise that targets the back muscles, glutes, and hamstrings," says Masi. "They help maintain a strong core, good posture, and functional strength. Like the squat, they work spinal stabilizers that may help prevent back pain and improve posture when performed correctly."

Begin with a weighted barbell or pair of dumbbells on the ground. Stand over them with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing straight. Next, bend at your hips and knees, keeping your back straight. Grip the barbell with your hands just outside your knees. Keep the barbell close to your body as you stand up. Straighten your hips and knees, and stand tall. Then, slowly lower the barbell to the ground while maintaining a straight back. Perform three sets of eight reps one or two times per week.



This classic chest-sculpting exercise is excellent for preserving strength in your upper body, which can help with daily tasks as you age. Plus, it's a convenient bodyweight exercise you can do almost anywhere. "Pushups target the chest, shoulders, and triceps," says Masi. "They help maintain upper-body strength and promote bone health in the arms and shoulders. And if performed correctly, they could be a good core workout to boot."

Start in a plank position with your hands on the floor under your shoulders and your fingers pointing forward. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core, and lower your chest toward the ground by bending your elbows. Keep your elbows close to your body. Once you're close to the floor, push yourself back up to the starting position. Do three to five sets of 10 to 20 reps at least two to three times per week.

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woman doing pull-ups

Pull-ups are a top-tier exercise for building and maintaining upper-body strength. "Pull-ups strengthen the lats, the lower traps, forearms, biceps, and rear shoulders. The flexibility required in the upper back may help to counteract the forward stoop that can come with age," explains Masi.

Find a sturdy horizontal bar, like those at a gym or on a playground. Stand beneath it, and reach up to grip the bar with your palms facing away, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang onto the bar with your arms fully extended. Engage your core, and pull your body toward the bar by bending your arms at the elbows. Keep pulling until your chin clears the bar, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Aim for three to five sets of as many reps as possible twice weekly.

Stepback Lunges

reverse lunges

"Stepback lunges target your quads, glutes, and lower leg muscles," states Masi. "Due to the brief period of single-leg stance during the repetition, muscle fibers on the outside of the hip and trunk come under greater stress than in a standard squat. This also challenges balance and stability, which is essential for fall prevention as you age."

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with your right foot, lowering your body into a lunge position. Both knees should form 90-degree angles. Your front knee should align with your ankle, and your back knee should hover just above the ground. Push through your front heel to return to the starting position. Then, repeat the movement with your left leg. Do three sets of 12 reps per leg two or three times weekly.

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Bear Crawls

illustration of woman doing bear crawls

"The bear crawl requires dynamic weight bearing through all limbs, creating a great environment for core activation and upper-body loading for bone health and strength," explains Masi.

Start in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Lift your knees slightly off the ground. Take a small step forward with your right hand and left foot simultaneously. Follow this with your left hand and right foot. Continue this alternating pattern, moving forward in a crawling motion. Perform three sets of bear crawls 10 to 50 yards in length. Include them in your routine two to three times per week.

Overhead Presses

illustration of overhead press exercise

"This overhead press targets the shoulders, triceps, and upper pecs. It's also a great core exercise when performed in standing. It's essential for maintaining upper-body strength for functional tasks like lifting objects overhead," says Masi.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Ensure your back is straight and your core is engaged. Press the weight overhead by extending your arms until they're almost fully extended above your head. Lower the weight back to shoulder height. Be sure to control the motion and avoid arching your back. Perform three sets of 10 reps twice weekly.

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Bent-over Rows

Woman doing Dumbbell bent over row

"Bent-over rows strengthen the upper and middle back muscles as well as the biceps and forearms," says Masi. "They also place an isometric demand at the posterior chain of muscles that extend into the legs, including the glutes and hamstrings, which allows you to target a large body area for just one movement."

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, or use a barbell. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Bend at your hips, lowering your upper body until it's nearly parallel to the ground. Ensure your knees are slightly bent, and maintain a neutral spine. With the weights in hand, pull them toward your lower ribcage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the weights back down to the starting position. Aim for three to five sets of 12 to 15 reps two or three times per week.

Dumbbell Bench Presses

Dumbbell Chest Press

This list of strength exercises to slow muscle aging wraps up with dumbbell bench presses. The dumbbell bench press is a surefire way to maintain strength in your chest and triceps. "This movement can be done at various degrees of incline to target different areas of the chest, which may help combat the staleness that comes along with repeatedly performing the same exercise over and over again," says Masi.

Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, resting on your thighs. Lie back, and use your thighs to help raise the dumbbells to the starting position. Extend your arms directly above your chest. Lower the dumbbells to your chest while keeping your upper arms at a 45-degree angle to your body. Allow your elbows to form a 90-degree angle. Press the weights back up to the starting position, extending your arms fully without locking your elbows. Complete three to five sets of eight to 12 reps twice weekly.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam