8 at-home exercises to increase muscle mass and feel good at every age
8 at-home exercises to boost muscle mass and feel good at every age
Find it hard to get up those stairs? Follow Caitlin Reid’s training tips to be fitter and stronger for longer.
We all know that ageing causes our bodies to change. Eyesight begins to fail, hair loses pigmentation and we slowly lose flexibility. From our thirties onwards, there’s another profound change taking place, too: the progressive loss of muscle mass, strength and function, called sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia contributes to a lower quality of life and potentially, in later years, a loss of independence. For most, the effects of this condition accelerate once we reach 75, although physically inactive adults experience a faster, greater loss of muscle mass than active adults. Sarcopenia may also coexist with obesity, placing obese people at a higher risk of morbidity and disability. Even if you’re not overweight, this condition affects us all to some extent – it’s one major reason why our metabolism seems to slow down – but you can slow both its onset and its effects.
How to beat it
While sarcopenia is caused by a number of factors, physical activity in the form of resistance training is one of the best ways to prevent and treat the condition. In fact, research shows that a progressive resistance-training program can increase muscle size by up to 9 per cent, boost strength by 100 per cent and substantially improve functional performance, such as stair-climbing ability, in the frail elderly. Aerobic activity such as walking, cycling or jogging, on the other hand, has a negligible effect on increasing muscle mass and strength.
Maintain and build muscle mass with this resistance-training program.
Exercises: 8–10 different exercises targeting all the major muscle groups.
Repetitions: 8–12 repetitions (reps) each exercise. When you can do 12 reps, go back to eight but increase resistance by doing the exercise more slowly, and build up the number of reps again.
Sets: 1–3 sets for each exercise. Allow yourself a one-minute rest between sets.
Duration: 45–60 minutes.
Frequency: 2-3 times per week, with at least 48 hours between each exercise session.
Overload: Progressively overload muscles, as this promotes growth and function.
Muscle-boosting lounge room exercises
These dynamic exercises (no equipment required!) target all the major muscle groups of the body. They’re great for people of all ages – get started now!
Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands by your side. Bending your knees, lower your bottom to ground while raising arms straight in front. Stop when thighs are parallel to the floor and arms level with your shoulders. Push through your heels, back to the starting position. Complete 8–12 reps.
2. Bridge abduction
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Raise hips up into the bridge position, creating a 90-degree angle with your knees. Extend right leg out straight, pointing your toe, then bring leg out to side. Repeat 8–12 times, then swap legs.
3. One-legged toe touch
Stand on your left leg. Right leg should be bent up behind. Bend your left knee slightly as you lean forward to touch your left toes with your right hand, then lift yourself back up. Repeat 8–12 times before swapping sides.
Start on your hands and knees with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your torso to the ground, stopping when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat 8-12 times.
5. Half supermans
On hands and knees, lift right arm and left leg in line with your back. Lower to the ground and swap sides. Do 8–12 reps on each side.
6. Tricep dips
Place hands on a chair seat behind you. Heels should be flat on the floor, your bottom hanging above the chair. Bend elbows and lower yourself towards the ground. Stop when shoulders are level with your elbows. Raise yourself up and repeat 8–12 times.
7. Toe crunch
Lie on your back with your legs raised at a right angle to the floor. Extend your arms up over your chest. Without moving your legs, lift your chest and shoulders off the floor and try to touch your feet with your hands. Repeat 8–12 times.
8. Knee drives
Place feet on floor and hands on a chair seat with your spine straight in a push-up position. With arms straight, draw your belly button into your spine and raise one knee towards your chest. Repeat 8–12 times with each leg.