Growing older brings with it a blend of grace and challenges. With each passing year, while we gain invaluable insights and experiences, it becomes increasingly difficult to come to terms with the physical transformations our bodies undergo. As we advance in age, our bodies don’t operate with the same vigor they once did during our youth. A common sentiment among my clients is the noticeable difficulty in staying fit – gaining weight seems easier, and maintaining fitness becomes a constant struggle unless diligently worked upon. Hence, I’m eager to introduce you to 11 top-notch strength exercises aimed at rebuilding muscle mass as you journey through the aging process.

Entering your 40s and moving forward, your body begins to shed lean muscle mass in the absence of strength training. So, if your goals include getting and staying fit, incorporating strength exercises into your workout regimen is essential. Engaging in weightlifting and resistance training activities is crucial for fostering and preserving lean muscle, ensuring you stay away from pain and injuries.

In deciding upon the strength training exercises to include, it’s crucial to focus primarily on compound movements. These exercises are invaluable, as they involve multiple muscle groups, offering the most efficient use of your workout time.

If you haven’t been strength training in a while and want to regain your muscle mass, here’s a list of the 11 best strength exercises to regain muscle mass as you age. Read on to learn more, and when you’re finished, be sure to check out these 12 Essential Rules To Get Back Into Shape After a Long Break.

Dumbbell Goblet Squats

dumbbell goblet squatdumbbell goblet squat
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Grab a dumbbell and hold it up to your chest, keeping your hands under the top of the weight. Inhale, and lower into a squat by bending your knees and hinging your hips back. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, push up through your feet, keeping your core activated. Flex your quads and glutes hard at the top to finish. Perform three sets of 10 reps.

RELATED: The 5-Minute Workout To Banish Flabby Arms

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

trainer demonstrating dumbbell romanian deadlift to reverse agingtrainer demonstrating dumbbell romanian deadlift to reverse aging
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of you while standing tall. Keeping your knees soft, initiate the movement by pushing your hips and keeping your chest tall. Go as far back as you can, making sure to keep your back straight and the tension in your hamstrings. Once you have a solid hamstring stretch, push your hips forward and flex your glutes hard to finish. Perform three sets of 10 reps.


pushup hold exercises for bingo wingspushup hold exercises for bingo wings
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Start by getting into the proper pushup position with your wrists in line with your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet. Keep your core tight, and lower yourself to the floor with a slight tuck in your elbows. Come down until your chest almost touches the bottom. Push yourself up, flexing your chest and triceps to finish. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps.

RELATED: 10 Best Balance Exercises To Keep You Active & Mobile as You Age

Cable Rows

wide grip cable rowwide grip cable row
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Grab the neutral grip attachment on a seated row machine, and place your feet firmly on the footpad. Pull the handle out, then extend your legs. Keep your chest tall as you drive your elbows back toward your hips, squeezing your back and lats hard to finish. Straighten your arms, and get a solid stretch in your shoulder blades before performing another rep. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Dumbbell Split Squats

split squatsplit squat
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Place one foot forward in front of another in a split stance position. Keep the tension in your front leg as you lower your body until your back knee touches the floor. Push yourself back up using the heel of your front leg. Flex your quad and glute at the top to finish. Perform three sets of 10 reps per leg.

Lat Pulldowns

lat pulldownslat pulldowns
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Grip the lat pulldown bar just outside shoulder-width with your palms facing away from you. Lean back slightly, and pull the bar down toward your sternum with your elbows, squeezing your lats at the very bottom of the position. Resist on the way up, maintaining tension until you get a full stretch at the top. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

RELATED: 5 At-Home Strength Workouts for Belly Fat

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

incline dumbbell bench press, strength exercises to regain muscle massincline dumbbell bench press, strength exercises to regain muscle mass
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Lie down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Press the weights over your body until your arms are completely extended. Pull your shoulder blades back and down into the bench as you lower the weights to your chest. Then, press the dumbbells back up to the start position, squeezing your upper pecs and triceps at the top. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Machine Seated Leg Curls

seated leg curls, strength exercises to regain muscle massseated leg curls, strength exercises to regain muscle mass
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Sit at the leg curl machine, positioning your ankles on top of the roller with the top pad locked in. Keep your chest tall and your back flat against the seat. Drag the weight down with your heels, flexing your hamstrings hard at the end of the motion. Resist on the way back up before the next rep. Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

RELATED: The Best Daily Workout To Increase Stamina

Reverse Pec Deck

reverse pec deck, concept of strength exercises to regain muscle massreverse pec deck, concept of strength exercises to regain muscle mass
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Sit at the machine with your chest supported on the pad. Grip the handles with your palms facing each other. Next, pull your arms back toward your body, leading with your wrists and pinkies. Squeeze the back of your shoulders hard at the end, then resist on the way back to the starting position. Complete three sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Incline Hammer Curls

Lie down on an incline bench holding a pair of dumbbells. Keeping your shoulders back and your palms facing each other, curl the weight up, squeezing your biceps and forearms hard at the top. Resist on the way back down. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Rope Triceps Extensions

rope tricep extensions, concept of strength exercises to regain muscle massrope tricep extensions, concept of strength exercises to regain muscle mass
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.

Attach a rope to the part of a cable pulley, and grip it just above the knobs. Keeping your chest up and slightly leaning forward, pull the rope down with your elbows, tearing it apart at the very bottom while flexing your triceps. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why is regaining muscle mass important as we age?

Gaining muscle mass as we age is crucial for several reasons. It helps improve our metabolism, maintains bone density, reduces the risk of falls and injuries by enhancing balance and coordination, and helps in maintaining an active and independent lifestyle. Moreover, muscle mass naturally decreases with age, making it essential to focus on building or maintaining it through strength exercises.

2. Can anyone start these strength exercises, regardless of their current fitness level?

Yes, individuals can start these strength exercises at any fitness level, but it’s important to adjust the intensity and volume based on personal capabilities and health conditions. Beginners should start with lighter weights and fewer repetitions, gradually increasing as their strength improves. It’s also recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a fitness professional before starting any new exercise regimen, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions.

3. How often should these exercises be performed to see noticeable results?

For the best results, these strength exercises should be performed 2 to 3 times per week, allowing at least one day of rest between sessions to permit muscle recovery and growth. The key is consistency over time, rather than intensity or volume of exercises. Results can vary based on individual effort, consistency, and dietary habits.

4. Are there any specific dietary recommendations to support muscle mass gain?

To support muscle mass gain, it’s important to consume a balanced diet rich in protein, since proteins are the building blocks of muscle. Aim for lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, beans, and legumes, paired with an adequate intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for fiber and essential nutrients. Staying hydrated and considering supplements such as whey protein or BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) under professional guidance can also be beneficial.

5. What are the best strength exercises to regain muscle mass?

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups (or modified push-ups)
  • Plank
  • Overhead press
  • Bent-over rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep dips
  • Leg press
  • Seated rows

These exercises target multiple muscle groups, promoting overall strength and muscle mass. It’s beneficial to include a mix of these exercises in your routine to ensure balanced muscle development.

6. What safety precautions should be taken when performing these exercises?

Always warm up before starting your exercise session to prepare your muscles and avoid injuries. Use proper form and technique to ensure effectiveness and prevent accidents. If using weights, start light and gradually increase as you build strength. Lastly, listen to your body; if you experience pain beyond normal muscle fatigue, stop the exercise and consult a professional.

7. Is it necessary to join a gym to perform these strength exercises?

No, it’s not necessary to join a gym. Many strength exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and planks, can be performed at home with minimal or no equipment. However, for those looking to perform weightlifting exercises, a gym membership can provide access to a wider range of equipment to enhance their exercise regimen.

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