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Aging Gracefully

7 Exercises for Muscle Maintenance

Improve your strength and achieve optimal muscle tone with this workout.

By Sally Solo
Dumbbells and measuring tapeBeatriz da Costa

To maintain your muscles, aim for 20 minutes of strength-training exercises two to three times a week―with at least one day off in between workouts so your muscles have time to rest, recover, and grow.

Liz Neporent, an exercise physiologist and the president of Wellness 360, a New York City-based corporate-wellness-consulting company, suggests the following seven exercises, which work most of the major muscles in your body. Do one to three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of the exercises, resting no more than 45 seconds between sets to keep the workout challenging.

If you haven't used weights before or if you're out of shape, start with light weights (when they're called for) of two to five pounds and do fewer sets.

 

Exercise 1: Squat

Works: Buttocks and thighs

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, weight slightly back on your heels, hands on your hips. Pull your abdominals in, standing up tall with square shoulders and a lifted chest.
  • Sit back and down, as if there's a chair directly behind you. Lower as far as you can without leaning your upper body more than a few inches forward. Don't allow your knees to stick out past your toes.
  • Straighten your legs and stand back up. Be careful not to lock your knees at the top of the movement.


Exercise 2: One-Arm Row

Works: Upper and middle back and shoulders

  • Stand to the left of a chair, feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in. Pull your abdominals in and bend forward from the hips so your back has a slight arch and you are roughly parallel to the floor, knees slightly bent. Put your left hand on the chair's seat for balance. Tilt your chin toward your chest so your neck is in line with the rest of your spine. Your right hand will be in front of your right shin.
  • Pull your right arm up along the side of your body until your elbow points to the ceiling and your hand brushes against your waist.
  • Slowly lower the weight back down. Complete the reps, then switch sides.
  
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