For women, whose bone density becomes a concern as they age, strength training has significant and well-documented benefits. These four moves make a solid foundation for your strength regimen. Aim for three sets of 12-15 reps each, two to three times per week, as part of a 20-minute strength training routine. The final three or four reps of each set should feel challenging.
Squat with Lateral Raise
Benefits: Back of shoulders, glutes, quadriceps
How to do it: Holding two 5-lb dumbbells at your sides, stand with feet slightly turned out and slightly wider than hip-width. Sit back as if you were lowering down into a chair. Pause when your knees reach a 90-degree angle, then stand back up, pushing through your legs and rear end. As you reach standing position, extend arms out to the sides, keeping a soft bend in the elbow. Lower arms and repeat.
Deadlift to Upright Row
Benefits: Front of shoulders, lower back, hamstrings, glutes
How to do it: Holding two 5-lb dumbbells or a single 10-lb barbell, stand with feet hip-width apart. Lean forward with a flat back, lowering weight(s) toward shins until your back is parallel to the floor. Press through your heels to return to standing, then lift elbows straight up and out, bringing weight(s) toward your chest. Hold for one count, then lower arms down and repeat forward bend.
One-Armed Dumbbell Row
Benefits: Upper back/rhomboids, biceps, core
How to do it: Leaning over, place your right hand and knee on a bench directly beneath your shoulder and hip, respectively. Holding a 10-lb dumbbell in your left hand, squeeze your back muscles to pull your elbow back and up so it brushes against your ribs; pause for one count when your triceps are parallel to the floor, then slowly lower arm back down. Complete three sets on both sides.
How to do it: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, knees soft, and abs tight, hold a 5-7.5-lb dumbbell or weight plate in both hands above your head. Bend both elbows, lowering the weight until it is near the base of your neck, then extend back up, keeping elbows squeezed in toward your temples. Perform 12-15 reps, three sets.