Easy Strength Training Exercises to Build Muscle and Increase Independence

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Tue May 16 2023.

Man lifting weights.

Exercise is one of the best ways to slow the natural aging process and live a healthier life. Not only that, but staying active improves your mobility, boosts your confidence, and increases your independence.

Many older adults worry about maintaining their balance as they age but don’t realize the important role strength training plays in that process. “As you age, your body starts losing muscle mass, bone density, and tendon strength,” said Matt Claes, a personal trainer and the founder of Weight Loss Made Practical. “These areas of your body are extremely important for daily movements and also reduce your risk of slip and fall injuries.”

Below, we’ve highlighted several exercises to help you build muscle, prevent fractures, and live your best life.

Who Benefits From Strength Training?

Anyone who wants to live an active and injury-free life can benefit from strength training. Though it’s often associated with bodybuilding, strength training isn’t just about getting a ripped physique. 

“An important point that many people forget is that the bones are actually ‘living’ body parts,” Claes says. “The way you challenge your bones can help strengthen them (and slow down their degradation).” 

“Strength training also helps to increase muscle mass and improve overall muscle function,” said Bishnu Pada Das, a certified fitness trainer. “This makes it easier to maintain balance and stability.”

How Can I Start Strength Training?

Before starting any new exercise program, meeting with a certified fitness instructor is vital.

“Your exercise journey should start with a movement assessment that helps you determine a good starting point,” said Wendy Shafranski, a certified personal trainer and the owner of Vero Strength + Conditioning in Vero Beach, Florida. “Your trainer can watch you do the exercises and make sure your technique is sound. If necessary, they can even make modifications that align with your current fitness level.”

Pro tip: If you’re new to exercise, only work out under the supervision of a trained professional. This can significantly reduce your risk of injury and frustration.

What Type of Clothes Should I Wear?

Strength training doesn’t require a special outfit, but loose clothing that allows for a full range of motion is best. Your shoes should be closed-toed and fit comfortably. Take time to warm up and cool down before and after your workout.  

Easy Strength Training Exercises 

After you get the all-clear from your doctor or personal trainer, you can begin building strength. Here are several easy exercises to start with:

1) Wall push-ups

Items needed: a wall you can lean against

Muscles engaged: chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps 

Steps: Stand up and face the wall. Then, put your hands shoulder-width apart against it. Slowly bend your arms, lean into the wall, and perform a push-up movement. Repeat 7-10 times.

Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBPW0cDgfmA]

2) Standing or seated rows

Items needed: resistance bands or resistance tubes

Muscles engaged: upper back and lats

Steps: Anchor the resistance bands or tubes to a doorway and sit in a chair facing it. “Carefully grab the handles and slowly pull the bands or tubing toward your chest, keeping your back straight,” Pada Das said. 

“Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. Then, slowly re-extend your arms to the starting position. Repeat 7-10 times. This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in your back and shoulders.” 

Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcWV51tONJ8]

3) Seated leg press

Items needed: resistance bands or resistance tubes 

Muscles engaged: the front and back of your thighs and glutes

Steps: You sit upright in a chair with your back straight, place the bottom of your foot in the middle of the resistance band with your knee bent,  and slowly extend your leg until it’s straight. Repeat the same steps 7-10 times and then switch legs.

Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaB5VHje-yc]

4) Seated bicep curls

Items needed: dumbbells, water bottles, or aluminum cans (basically, anything that can serve as a free weight)

Muscles engaged: biceps

Steps: “For this exercise, sit in a chair with your back straight,” Pada Das said. “Hold a free weight or a water bottle in each hand, and then curl the weights toward your shoulders. This exercise isolates your biceps.”

Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2Bj2bi8jd8]

5) Seated tricep dips

Items needed: a chair with armrests that you can hold onto. 

Muscles engaged: triceps

Steps: “This exercise works your triceps,” Pada Das said. “To get started, sit up straight in a chair. Then, place your hands on the armrests so your arms bend. Keep your elbows in and carefully push up until you’re standing. Repeat 7-10 times.”

Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-T6Z7_OD68]

6) Shoulder press

Items needed: dumbbells, resistance bands, or water bottles

Muscles engaged: Shoulders 

Steps: This exercise can be done sitting or standing. Pick up a dumbbell or water bottle. Then, lift the weight above your head, extending your arm until it’s completely straight. Bring the weight back down until your arm is at a 90-degree angle and repeat. This exercise strengthens your shoulders, triceps, and upper back.

Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YysOrM4-QZs]


If you want to reduce the risk of falls and other age-related injuries, make sure to include strength training in your exercise regimen. Remember, safety is the most important thing to consider. Consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program. 

“Strength training allows you to be more independent,” Shafranski said. “It gives you confidence, makes you more resilient, and helps you be ready for anything that life throws at you –– from carrying groceries to playing with your grandkids.”

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.