Over 50? These Are The Exercises You Should Be Doing to Strengthen Your Legs

Keep your lower body strong and healthy as you age. These are the 6 best leg exercises you should be doing after 50.
2 mins read
Leg strengthening exercises

By now, you’re probably familiar with the many benefits of exercise for older adults. However, you may only be performing cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, for your daily movement.

While cardio provides so many benefits, you should also be sure to complete regular resistance training. By lifting weights, using bands, and simply performing bodyweight movements, you can reduce your chances of falling or losing your balance later in life. 

In this post, I’ll highlight some key exercises older adults should be performing in order to improve their health.

Best leg strengthening exercises

1. Banded Side Steps

Side steps are great on their own. They increase stability and strength with lateral movement. Adding a band to the equation makes them even better!

How to Perform

  • Place a band around your legs, just above or just below the knee joint line. 
  • Squat down as low as you can.
  • Take a big step to your left with your left leg, then take a small step with your right leg in the same direction.
  • Continue in this manner for 30 feet, then reverse the movement, leading with the right leg.
  • Repeat for 4 sets per session.

2. Wall Squats

Isometric exercises go a long way toward building strength. In fact, if you are just starting out, isometrics, such as wall squats, can really help you prepare for some of your more intense lifts down the road.

How to Perform

  • Find a stable, secure wall.
  • Place your back against the wall and walk your feet forward slightly.
  • Slide down the wall, bending your knees.
  • Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 times per session.

3. Step Ups

Even if you don’t have steps in your house, you should be sure to practice step-ups. This exercise improves balance, strength, and endurance throughout the lower body.

How to Perform

  1. Find a set of stairs or a standalone step. 
  2. Place your right foot on the step.
  3. Using only your right leg, step up, bringing your left knee to your chest as you do.
  4. Without touching the left leg to the step, slowly return it to the ground.
  5. Repeat for 10 reps per side, per set, for 3 sets per session.

4. Chair Squats

Squats are an essential movement in our daily lives. We squat when we go to the bathroom, when we sit down, and when we stand up. Therefore, you should make sure you train this movement in the gym.

How to Perform

  • Find a plyo box or chair that is just below knee height.
  • Facing away from the chair, squat down until you tap it with your buttocks.
  • Rise back up to complete the rep.
  • Perform 10-12 reps per set, for 3 sets per session.

5. Step Downs

Before, we discussed step-ups. Now, of course, we need to talk about step-downs! This is a primarily eccentric movement, meaning the muscle is lengthening while it is under stress. In most cases, this leads to greater strength gains than almost any other type of contraction.

How to Perform

  1. Start on top of a step or stairs, as if you are walking down them.
  2. Take a step down with your left leg, using your right leg to very slowly lower yourself down.
  3. Tap your left heel to the floor then return to the starting position.
  4. Complete 10-12 reps per side, per set, for 3 sets per session.

6. Deadlifts

Much like squats, deadlifts are essential for improving daily function. We use a deadlift motion any time we pick something up from the floor, so we need these muscles to be strong!

How to Perform

  • Using dumbbells, a barbell, or something else heavy, stand with both feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Grasp the weight and stand up, keeping your back straight and your hips higher than your knees the whole time.
  • Complete 10-12 reps per set, for 3 sets per session. 


Getting older isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be painful. By completing the workout described above 2-3 times per week, you can improve your balance, strength, and endurance significantly. Add in some cardio and flexibility work too, and you’ll be on your way to being the healthiest version of yourself possible. 

Works Cited

  1. Vaishya R, Vaish A. Falls in Older Adults are Serious. Indian J Orthop. 2020 Jan 24;54(1):69-74. doi: 10.1007/s43465-019-00037-x. PMID: 32257019; PMCID: PMC7093636.

Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson, based in Pittsburgh, PA, is a dedicated physical therapist and writer. Certified as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014, he holds a BS in exercise science and a doctorate in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. Beyond his professional pursuits, Bennett enjoys leisurely reading and staying active.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Say Anything


Healthy breakfast ideas
Previous Story

20 Delicious, Healthy Breakfast Ideas That Are Filling and Easy to Make

Budgeting money
Next Story

The Six Things You Need to Know About Budgeting Money Like a Pro

Latest from Wellness

Lemon pasta recipe

Lemon Pasta Recipe: 15-Minute Dinner

For occasions when simplicity reigns supreme: Lemon Pasta! This recipe embraces the beauty of basic, featuring a delightfully uncomplicated yet irresistible combination. Experience sheer

Don't Miss