Bingo wings. Flying squirrels. The toothbrush wiggle. Flabby arms by any name are a pain point for a lot of women. Toning your arms in your 50s is no different than in your 30s: You can build muscle at any age — it’s just a bit easier when you’re younger. Ready to get started? Here are the best arm exercises for women over 50.
Ideally you will have a bench or chair, a set of 5- or 10-pound hand weights, and a mat. Do these exercises as a circuit (move from one exercise right to the next), striving for five sets of 15 to 20 reps each, three to four times a week.
1. Body-weight push-up to forearm plank
The Move: From a straight-arm plank position, lower your body halfway then push back up. Repeat up to 20 reps. Then lower to your forearms and hold 30 to 60 seconds.
The Muscles Worked: Chest, triceps, shoulders, and abdominals.
2. Bench or chair dip
The Move: Sit on the edge of a bench or chair, facing away from the bench or chair, feet firmly on the floor. Place your palms on either side of your butt. Drop your butt off the bench or chair; bend your elbows and lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Straighten arms. Repeat 15 to 20 times. Advanced technique: lift one leg off the floor.
The Muscles Worked: Shoulders, forearms, chest, and back.
The Move: This cardio move works the arms — and pretty much every other muscle in the body. Start standing with feet hip width apart and arms at your sides. Lower into a squat position and place your palms on the floor. Jump both legs back so that you are at the top of a push-up. Jump both legs back into a squat and stand up. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 to 20 times. Advance technique: Do a push-up before you go from plank to squat or jump up, arms overhead, at the top of the burpee (when you stand back up).
The Muscles Worked: Chest, triceps, shoulders, abs, and glutes.
4. Bicep curl and press
The Move: Stand or sit in a chair; keep your back straight and your arms extended straight down. Bend your elbows and curl weights into a bicep contraction. Then press the weights overhead. Reverse the action to your starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 to 15 times, depending how heavy your weights are.
The Muscles Worked: Biceps and shoulders.
5. Reverse fly
The Move: Sit in a chair. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at the waist. Holding your weights with your palms facing the floor, with only a slight bend in your elbows, lift your arms to a T while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower arms slowly back to start. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
The Muscles worked: Rear deltoids, triceps, and lats (back muscles).
These moves may not give you guns like Madonna or Michelle Obama, but do them regularly and you will see improvement.
Christine Khuri has been a fitness instructor for more than two decades. She was also our featured guest in December 2016.