5 Exercises to Help Preserve Muscle Mass As You Age

5 Exercises To Help Preserve Muscle Mass As You Age (Image via Pexels)
Exercises to preserve muscle mass are crucial in old age. (Image via Pexels)

According to Harvard studies, you start losing 3 to 5% of your muscle mass every decade after you reach 30. A healthy amount of muscle mass is directly associated with reduced mortality, favorable outcomes in various health problems, improved physical conditioning, and better quality of life.

However, muscle loss can be avoided by the following habits:

  • Consuming a high-protein diet
  • Regular strength training
  • Increasing your vitamin-D, calcium and omega-3 levels
  • Aerobic exercises for at least 30 minutes a day

Strength training is by far the best way to maintain muscle mass as you get older. It also helps maintain bone density, reduce arthritic symptoms, and improve glycemic control.

Today, we will examine five key exercises that will help you preserve (and even build muscle mass as you age.

5 Exercises to Help Preserve Muscle Mass As You Age

1. Seated Cable Rows


The back muscles are most commonly affected by age. We've all seen older people struggle to keep their backs straight and adopting a hunched posture instead. This can be prevented by strengthening your back with a variety of exercises.

Although deadlifts and barbell rows are useful exercises for your back, your lower back strength declines considerably with age. This can lead to proneness to injuries over the years. An efficient alternative is the seated cable row, which will put constant tension on your lats, rhomboids, and traps while also improving your posture.

You can perform them unilaterally to prevent any muscle imbalance. Lower the weight and focus on developing an intense mind–muscle connection for better results. Perform 3–5 sets of 8–15 reps in every workout session.

2. Squats


Your hamstring and quad strength levels decline rapidly after your 40s. Squats are an excellent choice to maintain muscle mass in this region as you get older.

However, make sure to perform higher rep sets with lighter loads. Your hip joint integrity decreases with age as well, and putting heavy loads can cause damage to your lower back and hips.

You can perform a wide variety of squat movements, including:

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Barbell squats
  • Goblet squats
  • Front squats
  • Overhead squats
  • Split squats

If you experience excess stress on your spine/lower back, you can switch to the leg press machine instead.

3. Chest Press Machine


The bench press can wreak havoc on your shoulder joint as you get older. A better alternative to preserving shoulder health would be the chest press machine.

Choose a machine that has a wider base of support for your shoulders. Avoid maxing out and focus on squeezing the pecs at the top of every movement.

4. Weighted Carries


Weighted carries are a total body exercise that target your core, forearms, and grip strength while engaging your traps, shoulders, back, and legs. They also add in a cardiovascular component, which is ideal for older individuals struggling to lose weight.

You can perform them using dumbbells, farmer's walk equipment, kettlebells, or trap bars. This exercise helps develop spinal stability and full-body coordination, which is crucial as you get older.

5. Walking


Walking has innumerable benefits for people of any age. Not only is it an excellent form of cardio, it is also easy to get back to after a break.

As it involves nearly every muscle in the body, it can help maintain muscle mass as you age. It helps you maintain a healthy bodyweight and fat percentage, which is directly correlated to the prevention of various diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It also improves blood circulation, bone health, and immunity.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is the effect it has on mental health and socialization. Quite often, elderly persons have reported symptoms and pain that can be traced to loneliness, which is a bigger killer than any disease. Finding a walking partner and engaging in a social circle can enhance mood and improve quality of life drastically.


Losing muscle mass is a natural part of aging. However, you can minimize it using the aforementioned exercises for a long and healthy life.

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Edited by Ramaa Kishore