October 09, 2020 10 min read

Our bodies never really stop changing. That’s not to stay they stay on the same trajectory, but they’re never stagnant. For example, as we go through our teenage years our muscles are growing to their adult size, our hormones are balancing, and we’re beginning to use more of our prefrontal cortex instead of our amygdala, (hopefully) resulting in less impulsive, emotional behavior. 

Many people are under the impression that one of these changes, sarcopenia, occurs when we reach middle age. However, this muscle loss begins much earlier, at the ripe old age of 30, adding up to between 3 and 5 percent per year for lifetime totals of anywhere between 10 and 30 percent. Although sarcopenia is a real and common condition, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done about it. Regular physical exercise is one of the best solutions and it has plenty of additional health benefits as well. 

Some of the patterns observed in the over-50 crowd have more to do with the retreat into a more sedentary lifestyle more than they have anything to do with an unavoidable threshold passed at that age. Even though retirement is still rare at such a young age, many people stop more active hobbies like sports and exercise when they exit their 40s. 

There are many reasons for this. For example, testosterone begins to decrease at age 30 as well. In 20 years, your body could well lose some of its competitive edge as a direct cause of this reduced T production. Environmental factors and consequences of negative health development or chronic conditions from previous injuries are also likely causes.

Luckily, strength training and bodyweight exercises don’t stop working just because we have lower T levels or the effects of sarcopenia are kicking in. There may be some specific adjustments that need to be made or individual limitations due to previous injury, but overall you can still count on the same exercises to target the same muscles. 

If you aren’t trying to become a celebrity bodybuilder and have never exercised regularly by age 50 then you probably have little use for the most intense HIIT workouts, calisthenics, or plyometrics. If you’re able to do these exercises more power to you, but if you prefer to avoid the risk of injury then there are still plenty of other muscle-building exercises you can do. 

50-year old men have some unique trends to account for when they make a workout plan, such as the possibility of reduced bone density. If you aren’t sure whether or not things have changed, it’s always best to check with a physician before you start with anything too intense. Just like you should at any age, if you haven’t been exercising for a while you need to ease back into it. 

Older men looking for ideas for an effective exercise routine can read through this article to find out what works and why. While we can’t promise that this is an exhaustive list for every individual 50-year old man, it covers the basics to give a rough idea of what you should consider for your workout routine. Pair these exercises with the supplements in our Mass Stack and you’ll have a full-body workout that will keep you in shape for years to come. 

A man doing the bench press.

Men’s Health After 50: What Changes?

There’s no way to account for the ways different life factors can affect our health once we pass age 30. However, scientists have discovered some trends that are fairly universal across older adults and some that affect older men specifically. 

We already mentioned the drop in testosterone that can happen anywhere after age 29. Guys do tend to calm down after they pass that mile marker. After all, many are family men by that point or expect to be soon. Life starts to get a bit more serious. 

Testosterone, or the lack thereof, also has manyeffects on the mind during the aging process. It can cause our sex drives, muscle production, and even mental function later in life, according to some studies. There are also some other things that we become more at risk for as we age. Bone density decreases naturally or as a result of conditions like osteoporosis. Range of motion may become more limited because of arthritis or the negative effects of old injuries. Metabolism slows down and our energy levels may decrease overall. 

Health Benefits of Regular Exercise for Older Men

Just about any regular workout routine has all sorts of fantastic health benefits for everybody, older men included. No matter if it’s just light cardio like walking or jogging, regular physical activity helps improve muscle strength, regulate your resting heart rate, boost lung function, improve psychological function, reduces body fat, and helps maintain your existing bone and lean muscle. 

Paired with a healthy diet, there’s nothing better for your overall wellness than physical activity. It can help stave off the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Even if you do manage to stay on your feet and moving all day, there are some exercises that can help target specific muscle groups to increase the range of motion in key places like the shoulders, hips, knees, and back. 

Best Warm-Up Exercises for 50 and Older Men

Before we get to all the professional weight training and bodybuilding exercises (just kidding), let’s take a look at the best warm-up exercises. Use these to prime your body’s various muscle groups before a full-body workout or do them in place of an exercise routine if you run out of time or can’t make it to the gym. These are all low-impact exercises that will get your blood pumping and help keep all your joints well-oiled. 

Don’t only save them for when you’re at the gym, though. Use them to stretch before you go out toplay golf or go on a hike. These are all great warm-ups that you should do every day to promote more flexibility. 

Wrist Curls

This barely feels like an exercise at all, but it’s great and relieving stress from your wrists and fingers if you’ve been typing a lot or using your hands frequently throughout the day. 

All you need to do is stretch your arms out in front of you and clench your fists. Slowly rotate both fists at the same time, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. You might hear some cracking in your joints but that’s fine as long as it doesn’t cause any pain. This simple exercise will help loosen up your wrists in preparation for some of the more taxing weight lifting exercises to come. 

Calf Raises

Similar to wrist curls, calf raises are a great way to wake up your ankles. Best of all, you can do this move while you’re waiting for some of the other machines to open up. 

Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and make sure your back is straight. Push through the heels of both your feet to lift both heels off the ground. Hold that position, resting on your tippy-toes for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat until your calves are ready to go. 

Arm Opener

Sticking with the simple stretches, let’s move on to the shoulder joints. Stand just like you were for the calf raises and interlink your fingers behind your back. While you look straight ahead, slowly move your hands up toward the center of your back. You should feel your shoulders open up and your chest start getting activated. 

Trunk Rotation

This move will help your posture and, hopefully, make your back feel a bit more limber. There are some variations you can add in if you’re able. 

Stand straight with your legs apart and lace your fingers together in front of your chest. Both palms should be facing outward. With your arms so elevated, turn your entire upper body to the right. This should cause a stretch across your back and into your shoulders. Lead with your elbows and make sure to keep your back straight. 

For a little variation, consider hinging at the hip at either end of the trunk rotation. When you’re as far as you can go in one direction, bend slightly and hold the position for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position and repeating on the other side. 

Quad Stretch

For a lower-body stretch that doesn’t require you to get on the floor, try this move. All you need to do is kick up one foot behind you and take it in your hand on the same side of the body. Get that foot as close to your rear as you can and you should start to feel a stretch in, you guessed it, the quadricep. 

Prayer Stretch

Open up your shoulders with this move. While standing, place your palms together as if you were praying. They should be right on your body’s centerline. Slowly move them to the outside edge of your body first on one side, then on the other. 

To open up your wrists, pause at the extreme of this stretch on each side and push with one hand against the other, causing the hand on the outside to lean at the wrist. Repeat on the other side. 

From the initial prayer position, you can also raise your hands above your head like a diver and then move them toward your back as if you were trying to touch your shoulder blades. 

Push-Ups

A classic that loses its usefulness, push-ups are one of the best bodyweight workouts for your chest and shoulders. You can use them as part of a warm-up and to fill space in a HIIT workout. 

To do a push-up with the proper form, lie on your stomach with your hands out next to your shoulders on either side. Your feet should be together and resting on your toes. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees. 

Slowly push the floor away from you until both arms are straight. It’s imperative that you keep a straight line through your body for the entire movement. 

Sit-Ups

Just like push-ups, you can use sit-ups as part of the warm-up and as a gap-filler in a HIIT routine. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Your knees should be bent and your shins out so that your legs make an A-frame shape. Your hands can go either behind your head or by your sides. 

Activate your core and lift your upper body until you’re as high as you can go. This classic ab exercise could get you a six-pack if you keep at it, but it’s also a great way to build up your core. 

Best Workout Program for 50-Year Old Men

Now that you’re all warmed up, let’s get to the real workout.

1. Lunges

It might not seem like the most hard-hitting exercise out there, but the lunge is a great way to work out many of the important muscles in your lower body like the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. There is also the opportunity to turn it into a plyometric exercise to boost your cardiovascular function. 

To do this exercise, step forward with one foot. The step should be a bit longer than your normal stride. Continue moving the knee of that leg forward until it is right above the middle of the foot, not letting it go further than your toes. Hold the position and then return to the start and repeat on the other side. 

You can continue to “walk” around the room with lunges and you can also hold free weights to get your upper body involved in the lunge exercise. 

2. Tricep Dips

Try this move or a pull-up to target your triceps and prevent sag on the bottom of your arms. All you need is a raised platform. You can also do it on a sofa or a chair, just make sure they won’t slip away. 

Place your hands behind you on the raised platform. Your knees should be bent at ninety degrees in front of you. Slowly lower yourself toward the ground, stretching your triceps. Hold at the bottom and then return to the starting position. 

A man doing a deadlift in a gym.

3. Deadlifts

If you can handle this exercise, even with a light weight, you’re in luck. It’s one of the best compound exercises by far. Almost all the muscle groups in the body are activated with a deadlift, although the form is deceptively simple. 

Get a spotter or personal trainer to make sure you’re doing this one right. Stand over a barbell with your feet underneath it. Hinge at the hip and get a good grip on the barbell, then set it by lifting it just enough for your muscles to activate but not enough to move the bar. Then, push the floor away, taking care not to use your back muscles to do the lifting. Raise the barbell to your shins, then your knees, then return it to the ground. 

4. Bench Press

This will feel similar to a deadlift and you’ll still want to have a personal trainer or someone else on hand to spot for you. You should also take great care not to bite off more than you can chew. If you do it with the proper form and don’t try too much weight, this is a great shoulder exercise that can greatly improve your range of movement there. 

Lie on the bench press machine and grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Lift the barbell off the rack and move it to your chest. Then push it away with your chest muscles and shoulders, slowly extending your arms all the way and then bring the bar back down to your chest. 

5. Dumbbell Squat

Another great compound exercise to build muscle and stability, the dumbbell squat is a variable exercise that you can change to meet your own needs and abilities. Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Make sure your back is straight and your knees slightly bent. 

Move your posterior backward as if you were about to sit in a chair. Your trunk should stay straight and your core should be engaged. Continue to lower straight down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Don’t let your knees extend past your toes. 

You can add some upper-body muscle building by moving the dumbbells up over your head as you lower in the squat position. A plyometric variant of this move involves exploding upward into a jump from the lowest point and then landing softly back in the starting position. 

6. Cable Flyes

This is the best shoulder and pectoral exercise and it’s much safer than dumbbell flys. It covers the full range of motion of the shoulder joint and doesn’t risk serious injury by hyperextending the way a dumbbell flye on a flat bench does. 

Take a grip of the cable machine in one hand with your back to the machine. Pull on the grip and bring your hand to your body’s centerline. Cross the centerline and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

More than any resistance band exercise, cable flys are the best way to get some resistance training for your shoulder and pectoralis major muscle. 

The 50's Doesn't Have to Be the End

These exercises are a great way to build muscle mass and keep it. They’ll improve your body’s function and your quality of life overall, plus they help regulate heart rate, improve brain function and the immune system, boost mood and cognitive function, and much more. 

Nobody can set a definite age limit on living a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re a veteran of the gym scene or just starting out, you can fit all or some of these exercises into your workout routine to stay in shape and living the good life for a long time to come. 


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