The Best Exercises For Women Over 50

As a trainer to people of all shapes, sizes, and ages over the past 13 years I do and always have recommended strength training for everyone. No matter your age, training yourself to be strong, especially in a functional way is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

A stronger body is a more youthful one, and luckily it’s never too late to start training to be stronger than you are today.

If you are beginning your fitness journey at an age over 50 and feel intimidated by strength training or scared to hurt yourself then read on. If you have been exercising all your life you can still get great benefits from these exercises and I’ll explain how to advance the moves.

Best Exercises for Women Over 50

We’re going over 6 of the best gentle strength training exercises that are simple enough to do at home and designed for functional strength – the strength and mobility that will keep you young and move well forever.

The goal of this workout is simply to train your muscles in a way that translates to real-life movements. The kind of strength you actually need and use in your everyday life.

Good form during these exercises is essential, so please reference the photos and make sure to do these exercises with the correct postures.

The only equipment you’ll need for this workout is one stable chair. Do not use a chair with wheels or a folding chair. If you don’t have a solid chair to work with use a wall instead.

You’ll complete 6 exercises in the number of reps given for each exercise and then repeat them twice for a full workout.

Beginners may modify by reducing reps or just doing one round. Advanced please do 3 or even 4 rounds, and even consider removing the chair to do the exercises with your own balance.

Here are the 6 exercises:

1) Kneel To Stand Up

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Ability to stand up off the ground without using your hands is often a test of how “young” we are physically. Practicing this simple skill translates to improved mobility, functionality, and physical youth.

  1. Start by kneeling on the ground and sitting back onto your heels.
  2. Lift one leg up and place your foot where the knee was
  3. Press down into the ground with that heel to come up to a standing position.
  4. Lower back down by reversing the movement the same way you went up.
  5. Alternate sides and do an even number of reps on each side.

Do 10 reps total, 5 on each side, alternating.

2) Squat To Chair

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Sitting down in a chair is something we do every day without even thinking about it. When we turn it into an exercise, we are creating the opportunity to focus on our form and what muscles we’re engaging instead of mindlessly flopping down.

By controlling your descent and pausing at the bottom you’ll develop great leg, knee, and hip strength that will continue to benefit you for decades to come.

  1. Stand right in front of the chair so you can feel it touching the backs of your legs.
  2. Stick your butt back and lower it all the way down to the back of the chair.
  3. Touch the chair with your butt but do not sit down.
  4. Press your heels firmly into the ground to stand back up again and repeat.

Do 12 reps, focusing on squeezing your butt and legs each time you return to the top.


3) Side Leg Lifts

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Great for training inner and outer thighs as well as balance and stability. For more challenge, remove the chair.

  1. Stand close to the back of the chair holding on with one hand, place your other hand on your hip.
  2. Cross your outside leg across your body to touch the foot of the chair
  3. Lift your leg straight up to the side, flex your butt and legs and keep your core tight.
  4. Pause for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position, tapping the leg of the chair lightly with your toes.
  5. Move slowly and with control

Do 15 reps per side, more if you can, but focus on good form and squeezing your muscles instead of just going through the motion.

4) Seated Single Leg Extensions

Seated Single Leg Extensions

This is a fantastic non-impact knee strengthener for anyone who struggles with knee pain or anyone that would like to prevent it.

  1. Sit on the chair, all the way back so your back is supported.
  2. Hold onto the sides of the chair for stability
  3. Straighten one leg out in front of you and lift 1 inch off the chair.
  4. Flex your foot and engage all your leg muscles and your core.
  5. Slowly lower that leg back down and switch to the other side.
  6. Move slow with control, alternate sides

Do 20 reps total, 10 per side.

5) Back to Chair Push Ups

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Push-ups are one of the greatest upper body exercises we can do. But if doing pushups on the ground is too challenging this modification can help bridge the gap and make them more do-able so you can gain more benefit.

  1. Stand about 3 feet behind the chair, lean forward and grab onto the top of the chair back.
  2. Hinge at your hips and keep your spine straight (do not round your back).
  3. Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the top of the chair.
  4. Press into the chair to rise back up and straighten your arms.
  5. Repeat, flexing your arms at the top of each rep.

Do 10 reps, using the full range of motion, all the way down and all the way up.

For more challenge and to include some core training you can walk your feet back a step farther and create a straight plank position with your body, like this:

exercises for 50 year old female

More advanced: remove the chair and do pushups on the ground.

6) Standing Knee Core Crunch

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Working your core is essential to functional strength at any age, but crunches on the ground can often be very uncomfortable or too challenging for anyone dealing with back pain. Try this crunch variation to get all the benefits of core work without the discomfort.

  1. Stand about 1 foot behind the chair and hold onto the top of it for balance.
  2. Reach one leg about one foot behind your and tap your toes to the ground.
  3. Lift that knee up through your arms towards your chest as you crunch your abs and round your back.
  4. Lower your leg back down and tap the ground and repeat.
  5. Continue all reps on one side before switching sides.

Do 10 reps on the left, then 10 reps on the right.

To complete this workout, perform all 6 of these moves as one big circuit, resting about 30 seconds between exercises, then repeat the circuit 2 to 4 more times depending on your fitness level.

Advanced exercisers can remove the chair and complete beginners may reduce the reps and/or only do 1 round of the circuit.

Regardless of your starting point, it’s always a great time to start training to be stronger. Just a few minutes per day of functional exercises can impact your future and keep your body more fit.

I recommend doing this workout or similar ones at least 3 times per week to stay strong, mobile and vibrant.