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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Strength Training After 55

As summertime is winding down and coming to a close, and after a few months of relaxed routines (and maybe too many ice creams at the beach or cocktails on the deck), many people lean into developing a routine and getting back to exercise in the fall season.

As a personal trainer and Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant who has helped hundreds of women over 55 with fitness, I’d like to share with you a few of the mistakes to avoid when starting strength training after 55. 

Mistake #1: Pushing Too Hard Too Fast

You want to fit into your favorite jeans and tone up your muscles, and you want it now! It can be tempting to feel like you need to make up for lost ground and push yourself with a new exercise routine. But avoid the mistake of pushing too hard too fast.

Avoid the temptation to work out too many days, a good balance is strength training 2-3 times a week, cardio for 20-30 minutes daily or strive to increase your daily steps, and gentle stretching daily or yoga a couple of times a week. But also avoid the temptation to exercise at an intensity that isn’t right for your current fitness level.

When you exercise, you should be able to hold a conversation and push yourself to an intensity of 5-7 out of 10. Exercising too often or at an intensity that’s not right for your current fitness level only sets you up for the flame to fizzle on your new exercise routine burning you out and falling out of your routine.

It can also lead to injury as your muscles aren’t the same as they were in your 20s. You need to listen to your body, challenge yourself the right amount, and stay consistent with your routine. 

Mistake #2: Not Getting Started with Exercise

After 55, you can’t afford not to exercise. Exercise helps with mental health, builds bone density, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, helps to reduce aches and pains, and helps you to maintain your independence.

It’s never too late to start an exercise routine. You can absolutely build strength, tone your muscles, lose weight, improve your balance, and even improve your body’s dashboard numbers at any age. Exercise can help in all of these areas. Start with 10 minutes a day and build up from there. 

Mistake #3: Not Performing a Warm-Up and Cool Down

Performing a good warm up is important for your joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments to ease into movement as well as your cardiovascular system. Perform a warm-up for 5 minutes moving your body through dynamic stretches for your whole body.

Start with some head turns, shoulder circles, arm circles, hip circles, march in place, side step, kick behind you. Avoid holding static stretches until your cool down as your muscles aren’t warm enough. Hold your cool down stretches for 3-5 deep breaths and relax into your stretches. Here is a gentle cool down you can do after your next workout: 

Mistake #4: Not Adding Strength Training

Sure, walking is easy and accessible and a great way to start exercising. But after age 30, our muscles start to lose mass in the natural process of aging. This puts more strain on our joints, tendons, and ligaments.

If you add strength training to your routine 2-3 times per week, you can ease aches and pains, build muscle strength, and even have more power to go up and down the stairs, lift the dog food, pick up the laundry, garden, and travel with ease! Try this gentle 10-minute strength training routine:

Mistake #5: Trying to Exercise Alone

Motivation is one of the hardest parts about starting an exercise routine. It goes up and down just like any other emotion we experience. When building a good exercise routine, having an accountability buddy or a coach is a great way to get started.

Working out with a Personal Trainer like myself and my team, ensures that your form is correct, the exercise is the right one for your body, you progress and push your exercises just the right amount to ensure you are working towards your goals, and you have someone in your corner to keep you motivated and accountable when the magic of your new routine wears off. 

If you are starting an exercise program, be sure to avoid these common mistakes. 

Not sure where to start? Join my Thrive After 55: 7-Day FREE Strength + Stretch Wellness Experience with 10-20 minute workout videos delivered directly to your inbox.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you been unsuccessful starting strength training? Where did you go wrong? Which mistakes hindered your journey? Have you corrected yourself?

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Candy Leonard

Stretching beforehand is something I’ve never done, but I will do my best to remember to do it moving forward. Stretching afterward is something I definitely do after my water fitness classes, but I need to also remember to do this after my weight machines and treadmill work – and walking!


Totally great article. Thank you!

The Author

Aubrey Reinmiller is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, and Functional Aging Specialist focused on helping those over 50 to reinvent aging! She offers online small group and private fitness solutions through Aubrey authored Reinvent Aging: The Over 50 Fitness Guide to Improve Energy, Strength and Balance.

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