Strength Training for the Over 50 Age Group

Is muscular strength essential for the over-50 age group? The answer is YES! and for several good reasons.


  • Strength is the major component of all physical activities, because muscles, by contracting and relaxing, move our bodies 
  • A muscle that has been appropriately strengthened is more flexible.
  • Strong muscles offer the first line of defense against injury. They give you protection from force whether it be from a fall, an automobile accident, or a mugger.


Nautilus machine exercises are especially beneficial because you do not have to involve the hands and arms in working the torso muscles. The Nautilus machine also provides rotary resistance which is very important in increasing your flexibility. Some of the best Nautilus exercises are hip and back extension, leg curl, leg extension, pullover, shoulder shrug, neck extension and flexion, and neck rotation. 

Barbell exercises can also be used effectively. The best barbell exercise is the squat, stiff-legged deadlift, standing press, standing curl, and stiff-armed or bent-armed pullover. 

Other barbells and free-hand exercises that are of value but are not as productive as those listed are the shoulder shrug, bench press, calf raise, waist curl, chin up on the horizontal bar (palms-up grip), the dip on the parallel bars, and the free-hand squat push-up, and sit-up.

Perhaps you would like to get started on a strength-training program but there is no equipment. What do you do?

First, select several large muscle exercises that require no special equipment. The free-hand squat, the push-up, and the sit-up are good ones. With a little creativity, you should be able to rig up a chinning bar and some type of parallel bars.

Start by performing eight repetitions of each exercise in good form. That may seem impossible on some movements, especially the chin-up, dip, and push-up. 

At the beginning of any strength-training, muscle-toning program, correct form should be emphasized much more than other factors. Without proper form, your workouts become meaningless.

In organizing and starting a strength-training program, be conscious of the following rules:

  • Select exercises that involve large muscle groups throughout a great range of movement
  • Stress correct form
  • Emphasize the lowering portion of all exercises
  • Perform eight to twelve repetitions
  • Train three times a week
  • As time goes by, gradually work up in the concepts of progression and intensity
  • Under all circumstances, get the approval of your physician before starting the program.






Darden, E. "Strength Training for the Over 50 Age Group". Especially for Women, Leisure Pressure, 1977, 66-72.