Stop the Sag with These Top Anti-Aging Exercises

Muscle loss comes with age but that doesn't mean you'll have to deal with saggy body parts the rest of your life. The solution: weight training. Here are some moves to tone those annoying trouble spots

Triceps -- To get rid of that underarm swing

Kickbacks

Keep in mind that you can't tone fat, making diet of utmost importance to firm, lean arms, says Tom Holland, author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets—Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag. Once you’ve got that down, Holland recommends this move for tighter triceps and younger arms.

How to do it: Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and stand with your right leg forward (feet should be about 3 feet apart). Tilt your torso slightly forward. Keeping your left upper arm close to your body, bend your elbow and bring the weight toward your shoulder. Extend your arm back and straighten it while keeping your upper arm stationary. Repeat 12 to 15 times for two to three sets.

Chair Dips

“In the modern world we don't have a lot of opportunity to use our triceps as much as we should,” says Liz Neporent, a New York-based exercise physiologist and coauthor of The Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan, "so they tend to be one of the first parts to go flabby. But it's one of the easiest and quickest areas to tone up." Grab a chair!

How to do it: Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your legs together and straight out in front of you, heels to the ground and toes pointing up. Keeping your elbows relaxed, place your hands about six inches apart, straighten your arms and firmly grip the edges of the seat. Slide your butt just off the front of the chair but keep your torso straight. Keep your abdominals pulled in and your head centered between your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your body straight down. When your upper arms are parallel to the floor, push yourself back up. Start with one set of 12 reps and build up to three sets. Bend your knees if it's too hard. For a greater challenge prop your feet up on a low stool.

Close-Grip Push-Ups

This close-grip variation of the classic push-ups engages more of the tricep muscles.

How to do it: Lie face down on the floor and place your hands so that the thumbs and forefingers touch to form a triangle, directly under your chest. Keeping your body straight, push yourself up until your arms are straight. Slowly lower yourself back down towards the ground and push back up again. Try this on your knees if it's too difficult. Do as many as you can, aiming for 12 to 15 reps for two to three sets.

 

Chest -- To keep things perky

Push-Ups

Along with the triceps, chest muscles often don't get a lot of use in daily activities and also tend to go soft with age, says Neporent. "With push-ups you should see good improvement after just four to eight weeks. You will definitely get stronger in that time and its likely your chest will appear lifted and more firm."

How to do it: Lie face-down on floor with legs out straight. Bend elbows and place palms flat on floor a little to the side and in front of your shoulders. Straighten arms to lift your body so you're balanced on palms and toes. Bend elbows (keeping them close to the body) and lower until upper arms are parallel to floor. Push back up. Perform on bent knees if too difficult. Start with one set of 12 reps and build up to three sets.

Chest Fly

Another anti-aging chest move, this exercise helps create definition in the cleavage area, says Holland. For maximum effect, seek out a chest fly machine also known as a "pec dec," as it provides the greatest resistance where you want it most. If one is not available, try the dumbbell version.

How to do it: Lie on your back on the floor, with knees bent and feet firmly on the floor. Hold onto dumbbells and position your arms straight above your chest (not over your head), elbows slightly bent, palms facing together. Using a slow and controlled motion, bring your arms out to the sides as if you're about to hug a big tree, keeping arms slightly bent throughout the movement. As your elbows reach the same plane as your shoulders, pause and return to starting position -- do not rest at the bottom. Repeat 12 to 15 times for two to three sets.

Chest Presses

Here's a version you can do with a weighted BodyBar or dumbbells.

How to do it: Lie on the floor or a bench with feet flat on the floor. Grasp a bar (or dumbbells) over your chest with palms facing your feet -- forearms should be bent directly above your elbows. Push the bar/dumbbells away from your body (if using dumbbells bring them together at the top); slowly return to starting position. If you do these without a bench, do not allow your arms to rest on the floor between reps. Do 12 to 15 reps for two to three sets.

 

Lower abs -- Because nothing says aging like a lower-belly pooch

Straight Leg Lifts

Addressing the pouch involves more than a single exercise, however. "It takes aerobic exercise along with abdominal strengthening to firm the abdominal groups, but the bigger part is a healthy diet," says Tamilee Webb, MA, Buns of Steel star. "Keeping the fat off your belly will help." While you can't isolate the lower abs from the rest of the abdominals, you will feel some exercises more than others -- straight leg lifts is one of them.

How to do it: Lying on your back with both legs straight out, place hands under your butt, slightly lift the legs up off the floor. If you're not strong enough to do this try lifting one leg at a time or you can bend your knees and lifting your knees toward your chest and slowly back down, but don't touch the floor. Repeat eight to 16 times.

Reverse Straight Leg

How to do it: Lying on your back with both legs straight up, slowly lower both legs half way down toward the floor and back up, again if you need to modify try one leg at a time. Repeat eight to 16 times.

Bicycle Crunch

Ranked as the best ab exercise by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), this move is a must-have for anyone, says Holland. "It works the entire abdominal area, including the lower abs."

How to do it: Lay on your back with your legs extended, feet about ten inches off the ground, and your hands behind your head. Bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Keep your opposite elbow on the ground and the opposite leg straight. Make sure you are rotating from the core and not just reaching your elbow over. Try to pull your navel down to your spine to help maintain a neutral spine. Straighten your leg back to the start position pause and repeat the motion to the opposite side. Repeat eight times each side, increasing reps as you become stronger.

 

Glutes -- Because they are already dangerously close to the ground

Runner's lunge

How to do it: Stand with your right side next to a chair. With your right hand on the seat, crouch down into a low lunge with your right knee forward and your left leg extended behind you -- keep your heel and knee lifted up and left hand on the floor for support. Make sure to keep your body in a 45-degree angle. Staying low, bend your left knee and step your left foot directly behind your right heel. Rock back to the start. Complete all 12 to 15 reps with your right leg then repeat with your left leg forward.

Sit & Stand Squats

This one is not as difficult as the runner's lunge, says Webb. "You can do it anywhere you can sit and stand."

How to do it: Find a chair that allows you to be at a 45 angle when you sit. Sit in the chair, place your feet hip width apart. Stand, pressing from your heels, then lower yourself back down as if you're going to sit but don't sit, as soon as your butt touches the chair, stand back up. Remember to contract your abs to support the lower back and squeeze the glutes as you stand up. Repeat this eight to 16 times, for three sets.

Quadruped Hip Extension

A study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) designated this classic callisthenic exercise as the most effective exercise for glutes, as measured by the number of glute muscles it activates. It even beat out traditional squats and lunges.

How to do it: Start on your hands and knees and slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine. Lift one leg up, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Lift the leg until the bottom of the foot faces toward the ceiling and the thigh lines up with the torso. Repeat on the same side for eight to 12 reps.

Walking Lunges

In addition to stationary lunges and squats, add these walking lunges to round out your glute routine, says Holland.

How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Keep chest high and abs engaged as you step forward with your left foot. Land on your mid-foot and lower yourself until the knee is at a 45-degree angle. At the same time bend the right leg until your right knee almost contacts the floor. Push yourself up, step forward with the right foot and lunge. Keep alternating legs. Repeat 15 reps on each leg.

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