Weightlifting For Age-Related Muscle Loss

Weightlifting for age related muscle loss

Even for the most dedicated fitness professionals, muscle loss happens as we age. Beginning after the age of 30, muscle mass decreases by approximately 3-8% per decade, and the rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60. This natural muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is involuntary but is there anything we can do to counteract the effects of age-related muscle loss?

Should you be concerned about age-related muscle loss?

Age-related muscle loss is concerning because the loss of strength and function is a fundamental cause of and contributor to disability in older people. Any loss of muscle that happens matters because it lessens your strength and mobility. It is not only a factor in frailty but also the likelihood of falls and fractures in older adults. The main symptom of muscle loss is the feeling of muscle weakness, and muscle mass plays a huge role in our health.

Nutrition For Age-Related Muscle Loss


Daily nutrition is an important thing to consider when you’re creating a strategy for maintaining muscle as you age. Studies show that specific nutrients may help to reduce the loss of skeletal muscle as we age.

Vitamins & Supplements

Many of these nutrients are found in the foods we eat, but vitamin supplements can also be helpful. Here is a list of vitamin supplements that may help maintain muscle:

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
  • HMB a nutrient similar to leucine
  • Antioxidants found in vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and omega-3
  • Vitamin D


While eating an adequate amount of protein doesn’t prevent age-related loss of muscle completely, not eating enough protein can make the problem worse by causing older adults to lose muscle faster. Consuming the right amount of protein can help to slow or minimize this muscle loss with age.

Strength Training Can Build Healthier Bodies As We Age

Consistent resistance training at all ages plays a vital role in preventing both sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Even if you have not had a consistent weightlifting or resistance training routine, you can begin one now and help reverse or prevent age-related muscle loss.

5 Weightlifting Exercises You Can Do For Age-Related Muscle Loss

Having a strategy and a plan for weightlifting is often exactly what you need to get started. You can get started at home or in the gym with just two dumbbells. A set of dumbbells that includes various weights is always a good thing, as it will allow you to choose the amount of resistance that you need. If you’re new to weightlifting, starting with a lighter weight is recommended, then gradually increasing as your strength and coordination improve.

1. Dumbbell Goblet Squat To bench (or chair)

Dumbbell squat

While this exercise can be done with no dumbbell, the increased weight is what will challenge and strengthen your muscles even further. Adding the bench or chair will help you build the technique to perform a proper squat.

How to do a dumbbell goblet squat:

  • Stand tall, directly in front of a bench or sturdy chair.
  • Keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your toes angled slightly outward.
  • Hold a dumbbell perpendicular to the ground in both hands in the center of your chest.
  • Engage your core, and pull your shoulders back.
  • Press your hips back to sit down on the bench, bending your hips, then your knees to steadily squat down.
  • When your glutes touch the bend, your elbows should touch the inside of your knees.
  • Reverse the movement, press through your heels, and return to standing.
  • Repeat 8-12 times.

2. Push-Up


While the pushup doesn’t involve an added weight like a dumbbell or barbell, it is a highly effective body resistance exercise that helps strengthen and maintain muscle.

How to do a push-up:

  • Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Straighten your arms and legs.
  • Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Pause, then push yourself back up.
  • Repeat 8-12 times.

Modification: If you’re unable to perform a proper pushup from your hands and toes, you can modify this movement by performing the pushup from the knees.

3. Dumbbell Single-Arm Row

Dumbbell row

This movement targets the upper and lower back, shoulders, biceps, and hips while also improving core stability.

How to do a dumbbell single-arm row:

  • Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, bend over to place your left knee and left hand on a bench (or chair) to support your body weight.
  • Exhale and slowly pull the dumbbell upwards, bending your elbow and pully your upper arm backward.
  • Repeat 8-12 times.
  • Switch to the left side and repeat the steps.

4. Dumbbell Biceps Curls

Bicep curl

The biceps curl is an exercise you can do to build strength in your upper arm. Specifically, it works the muscles in the front of the upper arm.

How to do dumbbell biceps curls:

  • Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Keep your core engaged.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms relax down at the sides of your body with palms facing forward.
  • Bend at the elbow and lift the weights so that the dumbbells approach your shoulders.
  • Exhale while lifting.
  • Lower the weights to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8-12 times.

5. Side Lateral Raises

Lateral raises

Lateral raises target your shoulder muscles with support from nearby muscles. Lateral raises help you achieve defined shoulder muscles, but there are additional, important benefits that go beyond appearances. Lateral raises will help increase your shoulder mobility, range of motion, and stability. These are all important factors for healthy aging and target an essential area for age-related muscle loss.

How to do side lateral raises:

  • With a dumbbell in each hand (start with a lighter weight if needed), stand up tall, with palms facing your sides.
  • Keep your feet hip-width apart with toes pointed slightly outward.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and keep your chest erect, keep a slight bend in the elbows, engage your core and keep your body still (do not perform this movement with swings in the upper body or core).
  • Exhale and lift your arms to shoulder height until they are parallel to the ground.
  • Hold this position for a second.
  • Inhale and slowly lower your arms to your sides.
  • Repeat 8-12 times.

The Takeaway: The Importance of Weightlifting Isolation Exercises

Weightlifting and resistance training workouts that target specific muscles help you strengthen and maintain muscle that’s fundamental to movement and balance. So, while cardiovascular exercise is also beneficial, weight training is crucial for improved mobility, balance, and stability. While age-related muscle loss can’t be avoided, it can be vastly improved by a consistent weightlifting routine.

Feel the Burn:

Amazon Basics Neoprene Workout Dumbbell
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GYMB Resistance Band Set
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Pawsdot Adjustable Kettlebells Weight Set for Women 5-12lb
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Gaiam Restore 3-in-1 Resistance Band Kit
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Read Next:

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