In your 50s and beyond, it’s incredibly important to maintain a healthy body weight. That’s because obesity gives you a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer. On top of that, being overweight makes it harder to get back in shape because it limits your ability to be physically active. So if you’re looking to enjoy a healthy and happy life for years to come, it’s critical to slash the fat and get lean. We have nine of the best free weight exercises for faster weight loss after 50, so gear up.
The way to turbocharge your weight loss journey is to use “free weight” training. Free weights are basically anything that’s weighted (surprise!) and not supported or guided by anything else—examples include dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, sandbags, medicine balls, weight plates, etc. The reason these are so effective at weight loss is that you have to control the weight entirely by yourself. This forces more muscles to work—and work harder—than if something was stabilizing you or the weight like a machine.
Ready to give these tools a try? Read on for the nine best free weight exercises for faster weight loss after 50, no matter your age or experience in the gym. And when you’re finished, don’t miss out on People Who Lost 10 Pounds in a Month Reveal Their 4 Best Workout Habits.
Whether you’re 15 or 50, the squat works wonders. It burns a lot of calories as your entire body works—including your core and upper body—to lift and stabilize the weight. You’ll improve your strength as well as your cardio!
Grab the end of one dumbbell in both hands and hold it by your chest with your elbows underneath. Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels, and keep your knees apart.
If you’re a beginner or coming back from a long break, a normal squat might be a little difficult. With this variation, you have a counterweight so you can get into good positions and learn to squat correctly.
Hold a five to 10-pound weight plate with both hands in front of your chest. Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. As you descend, extend the plate straight out in front of you. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels and keep your knees apart.
This is one of the most simple ways to strengthen the legs in your quads and your glutes. Even better, it carries over perfectly well to daily life—like any time you walk upstairs or go uphill.
While holding a dumbbell in each hand, place one foot on a box or bench. Pull all your weight on that foot and drive yourself up by pushing through your heel. Avoid pushing off with your bottom leg.
For more weight loss, make your exercises more complex and demanding. The split squat helps you do that because it forces you to target each leg at once so you’re exercising for twice as long and you’re getting more impact on your core and stabilizing muscles.
Stand with one foot about three feet in front of the other so that your knees make two 90-degree angles at the bottom. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Drop straight down, and drive with your front heel. Don’t let your front knee drift past your toe.
Rows are an essential exercise to strengthen your back, which helps improve your physique as well as your posture. (Your shoulders will thank you.) This is a great exercise for beginners because you’ll use a bench for extra stability.
Facing parallel to a bench, place your right hand and right knee on the bench, getting your torso parallel to the ground. Grab a dumbbell with your left hand, squeeze your shoulder blades, and row.
As people age, they lose strength in their fast-twitch muscles. To prevent this, train those muscles with quick, explosive movements that are safe for your muscles, joints, and bones. Medicine balls are great for this because you can throw and slam them and they can take a beating.
Grab a large medicine ball and, while standing in an athletic position, bring the ball above your head and slam it as hard as you can into the ground. Keep your abs braced throughout. Repeat.
Many people over 50 have nagging shoulder or back issues, which makes it difficult to push a weight overhead. Instead, use the “scaption,” which targets similar muscles without putting your joints in strenuous positions.
Grab two dumbbells, and hold them at your sides. Stand tall with your shoulder blades squeezed together and your glutes tight. Raise the dumbbells to your sides and slightly in front of you (about 30 degrees in front of you) to shoulder height. Repeat.
If you want a lean, strong, and fit body, strengthen your backside—namely your glutes and hamstrings. Instead of deadlifts, which can put a strain on your lower back if you don’t use good technique, hip thrusts target those muscles in a safer way.
With your shoulders on a bench and a barbell on your hips, lower and drive your hips to full extension. Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes at the top. For your protection, place the barbell on a thick pad.
Carries are a super effective way to combine cardiovascular training with strength and muscular endurance. These also help in daily life because you’ll often have to pick up and carry heavy things from groceries to grandkids.
Grab a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, and walk. Then, switch hands and repeat.