Getting older can be a fabulous and blissful experience – especially when you fully appreciate and enjoy your body as it changes. That certainly applies to the way you train. Exercise can help you stay healthy as you age, but it’s also best to know what type of physical activity will benefit your body the most and help you avoid potential problems or injuries. We’ve rounded up the best exercises for every decade of your life, so listen up.
Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s and older, you should check out the exercises below Melissa Kendter, an ACE-certified trainer, running coach, and functional training specialist at EvolveYou. Kendter is passionate about helping people of all ages and fitness levels find the best fitness journeys for them. So read on to learn about the top recommended exercises you should be doing in every decade of your life, according to one fitness pro.
Your 20s: Walking lunges
“When you start young, you want to keep your muscles, joints, and entire body strong,” says Kendter Eat this, not that!adding, “Incorporating dynamic compound exercises will be beneficial in building a strong base that will carry you through every stage of your life.” First in our list of exercises to do in every decade of your life, does the walking lunge stand in your 20s.
Kendter explains that this exercise will help you develop unilateral leg function and strength, promote leg hypertrophy, and bridge the gap between real-world movement and strength training during your workout. While walking lunges tend to be challenging, it’s worth incorporating this exercise into your routine. Get ready to give your hip mobility, range of motion and glute development a solid boost.
To do walking lunges, start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step into a forward lunge with one foot and pause for a moment. Then move your other foot up to meet the front one before doing another forward lunge. Continue this movement, alternating between legs. Aim for three 30- to 45-second sets.
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Your 30s: Dumbbell Thrusters
When it comes to being in your 30s, Kendter explains: “[This is a time when] We’re adjusting to life and our work, which can lead us to become more sedentary, so make sure you’re targeting your whole body and incorporating strength and cardio movements.”
With this in mind, Kendter suggests doing Dumbbell Thrusters. She prefers this exercise because it engages a few major muscle groups at the same time, including your core, upper body, and posterior chain. She also explains that this compound movement will give you the “maximum bang for your fitness buck” because it helps sculpt muscle, build strength, and burn body fat.
Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Position the weights at your shoulders and next to your ears. Position your feet shoulder-width apart. When you’re in the right position, squat down. Then, stand back up and push the dumbbells overhead, fully extending your arms. Return to the position you started in. Aim for three sets of eight to twelve reps.
Your 40s: Deadlift
Deadlifts may have an intimidating name, but Kendter says they’re “a time-efficient way to build and maintain muscle, particularly in the posterior chain, [which includes the] entire back from your calves and glutes to your upper back!”
As you age, you may acquire more sedentary habits. This can lead to weak glutes and poor posture. Kendter explains, “The deadlift is very effective at increasing functional strength due to activation of your largest muscles, strengthens your entire glutes, improves posture, and trains you for the functional activity of lifting objects off the floor safely, which is a key skill, to stay strong in life.”
While a deadlift is often performed with a barbell, you can also hold a dumbbell in each hand. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and the weights on the floor. Bend down to grab the barbell (or dumbbells). While keeping your back straight, raise the weight until you are in a standing position. Pause before lowering the weight back to the floor. Aim for three sets of six to ten reps.
Your 50s: Loaded carries
As you hit your 50s, Kendter says your balance and coordination can begin to decline, so focusing on functional exercises to maintain strong bones and good balance is crucial. She also points out, “From carrying packages to moving the couch to packing groceries, carrying loads is part of our daily lives and it’s important to have the confidence to do it without fear of getting hurt.” becoming or just not being able to do them.”
For this reason, Kendter recommends doing load carries as part of your training at this age and stage in life. She further explains: “[They] target your entire body, from your gait, core, glutes and more. They offer many benefits, particularly for developing strength, athleticism, balance, and injury prevention.” This functional movement improves your ability to do everyday tasks and even activities you enjoy.
To perform loaded carries, simply grab a dumbbell and walk forward a certain distance that you find challenging but not overwhelming. Once you reach the end point, put the weight down and rest. Then go again. The goal is to walk in sets of three for 45 seconds each time. To really see the benefits of this physical activity, remember that the goal is to get heavier and maintain proper form.
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60+: Bird Dog
“As we get into our 60’s and 70’s, we want to make sure we’re continually working on our balance, mobility and posture,” explains Kendter, adding, “Around this time we see more hip and joint issues coming up Being able to move fluidly is key.”
Come in, the bird dog. While it sounds like a hybrid beast, it’s actually an exercise that uses your entire body to strengthen your hips, core, back, and glutes. In addition, this exercise promotes good posture, improves your range of motion and reduces back pain.
To perform bird dogs, carefully get to the ground before positioning yourself on your hands and knees. When you are stable, lift one arm up and show it in front of you. If you can, raise the other leg as well and point it backwards. Then bring both your arm and leg back to the starting position. Next, do the same movement with the other arm and leg. Kendter advises you to aim for three sets of 12 to 15 reps on each side, but listen to your body and do less if that’s challenging enough.