When once thinks of weight lifting exercises, it’s easy to quickly feel intimated by all of the machines. However, with the right advice, you can perform simple, effective and safe weight lifting exercises from the comfort of your own living room – without any of the equipment.

Michael Dermansky, physiotherapist and director at MD Pilates, touts the enormous benefits of weight training for seniors. “Weight training in the over 60s is almost more important than in the younger years.  It’s not about looking good in front of the mirror (although this is a benefit), but it’s an important part of staying healthy and maintaining a great quality of life up until any age.” According to Michael, health benefits include…

1. Building of lean muscle

By introducing just a few weight training exercises, you can fight the rapid decline cause by un-used muscles. It also helps manage diabetes though improving your glucose control and absorption.

2. Maintaining bone density

In order to maintain your bone density you need to load your muscles and joints regularly, and walking is simply not enough! If you don’t, your bones will lack the stimulus to maintain their usual architecture and begin to break down.

3. Fall prevention

Falls commonly occur because weak muscles result in a loss of balance and difficulty maintaining an upright posture. By improving muscle strength, you not only decrease your risk of a fall, but you also prepare the muscles to react in the event of impact.

Michael has three safe weight training exercises you can do at home to tap into these benefits. You can always purchase your weights, however, if this isn’t quite in the budget, there are home alternatives you can use instead. For example, you can use cans of vegetables or plastic beverage bottles.

For most of the following exercises, you will need at least two kilograms, so four liter bottles are perfect. This way, you can alter the weight to your liking and what the exercise requires.

Michael advises that “When using weights, they should feel a bit heavier than what is comfortable, but not too heavy that you feel any kind of pain.  The weights should feel somewhat hard”.

These exercises work on major muscle groups important for posture and balance. Scroll through the gallery above to see them being performed.

1. Bridging

This exercise strengthens your major buttock muscles, the gluteus maximus, which is important for keeping your body up straight and is one of your major propulsion muscles.  If this muscle doesn’t work properly, you are unable to push off properly, stand on one leg without falling or walk up and down hills. 

  • Lie on your back, with both knees bent.
  • Add to this exercise by holding your weights in your hands. Rest them on your stomach (This adds extra load to the exercise) 
  • Lift your bottom up and hold for three seconds, then lower the bottom down.
  • Repeat for 8-10 times twice a week.

2. Squats

Quadriceps (the muscles at the front of the thighs) are extremely important muscles for walking, getting up and down off the ground and being able to walk up and down hills. 

  • Stand with your back to the wall, with your feet out away from the wall about 30 centimetres.
  • Add to this exercise by holding your weights in each hand.
  • Lower your body down, until your knee are bent to about 45 degrees, keeping your back against the wall. 
  • Hold for five seconds and then return up.
  • Repeat 10 times, and perform this exercise two to three times a week.

3. Calf strength

The calf muscles are important for propulsion and one of the major stabilising muscles of the foot. Weakness of these muscles means slower reaction to the change in surface or uneven ground. 

  • Stand up next to the wall, one hand up against the wall for balance. 
  • Hold your weight in the other hand to add load
  • Lift your heels up to come up onto your toes and hold for five seconds, then lower the heels down.
  • Repeat for 10-15 times, twice to three times a week.

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