Exercise programs for senior men

Today we will look at some of the best exercise programs for senior men available. There are some crucial differences between women and men, especially in seniors.

Even though you lose some of your youthful male vitality as you age, you will still have significantly better capacity to build strength and muscle mass than senior women. This is because of a genetic differences in hormones and hormone receptors between the sexes.

Men have much higher levels of testosterone and other male hormones, called androgens. They also have more receptors for these androgens in their muscles. Androgens are anabolic hormones which promote muscle strength and mass as well as fat burning and bone strength. Pretty useful stuff for a strong body wouldn’t you say?

So strong actually that synthetic androgens are used to build strength and muscle mass illegally in professional athletes, gym rats and bodybuilders. These are of course referred to as steroids and they are what men have to take if they want to look like bulging bodybuilders.

Sure the professional bodybuilders work very hard to achieve that look, but the sad truth is that it’s the steroids that do most of the work. There is this legendary study that showed that young men that took steroids and didn’t train with weights gained more muscle mass in short time than the control group who trained with weights.

So you build more muscle with steroids doing nothing that with working your ass off at the gym. The reason we are telling you this is to show how powerful even natural androgens are for muscle strength and mass.

Even if you have low testosterone levels as a male, you likely have several multitudes more of testosterone than women of the same age. And it doesn’t take much to significantly affect the muscle growth positively.

The other reason we tell you about steroids is to have realistic expectation of working out. Most natural young men can’t achieve the “ripped” and muscular physique bodybuilders have. There might be some genetically gifted individuals that can achieve a quite incredible physique naturally but they are few and far between. It’s naturally worse for older guys because of age related hormonal decline.

This is important to realize because the fitness industry is notorious for using steroid amped models in their sales pitches. The workout plans and exercise programs we are about to show you might have such advertising but they are otherwise sound. It’s important to know this and focus on health as an older man, you are no going to transfer into young Schwarzenegger after two months of working out. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Natural hormones and age are against you, but that’s no reason to avoid an exercise program. You can still improve your strength and muscle mass significantly as an older male. This will add healthy and active years to your life and improve your life quality tremendously. Oh and don’t let us discourage you! You and your partner will definitely enjoy the changes in the mirror.

What happens to male hormones as you age

When men get older, the testosterone levels decline quite steadily. Sometimes they can drop significantly in relatively short time due to stress, illness, head injury or unhealthy lifestyle like drinking and using drugs.

If you avoid all those, your testosterone will decline around 1 percent per year after you hit 30. You peak at around 20 years old. That means that by the time you hit 60, your testosterone levels can be half or less than what it was in your twenties.

testosterone declines with age

This definitely has and effect on your virility and ability to build muscle and strength. On the other hand it’s important to remember that even if you are in the lowest range for healthy males, your will have significantly higher levels of androgens and more receptors for them than women. That’s why even older men can be significantly stronger than young women.

One other factor that lowers testosterone levels in both old and young men is high body fat. Most people these days are overweight or obese. If you body fat percentage is higher than 15 % it likely is affecting your testosterone levels negatively. This is because body fat contains an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen.

You should do your best to get rid of excess fat due to several health reasons. In seniors fast weight loss is never advised however, so plan the weight loss with your physician. You should always consult your doctor in case of starting a new exercise program as well.

How older men should train

Older men should train more strength oriented. The focus should be more on intensity (weight/resistance) instead of volume (sets times reps). This is because muscle strength and mass in older men respond best to intensity.

Higher volume training is more effective in building muscle mass but requires better hormonal profile and conditioning. It’s also much more fatiguing and requires better recovery ability. It’s a young mans game so to speak. Women respond better to lower intensity, higher volume training due to genetic differences as well.

Because older men have fewer androgens and growth hormone, their capacity for high volume work is lower. High intensity workouts with less volume will activate the androgen receptors in the muscle and can even slightly increase your free testosterone levels. This makes the best use of the testosterone your body has to spare.

In a way it’s a balancing act of doing just enough of work with your muscles to cause adaptation (positive changes) without going over your recovery capacity.

You should eat a healthy diet that doesn’t increase your weight too much because you likely have some body fat to spare. If you are underweight you should pay attention to eating hefty meals of nutritious foods. To keep your recovery good you need to sleep enough as well.

Besides doing strength training you should have an active lifestyle that includes daily activity that brings your heart rate up. This can be anything you like from walking your dog to home improvement to golf.

Best exercise program for senior men

Our top recommendation is the Old School New Body program by Steve & Becky Holman. It’s a program that is specifically designed to be suitable for older people as well. The authors are over 50 themselves actually.


The program uses a very short high intensity strength training to drive muscle adaptation. This is exactly the stuff you want as an older gentleman. The program is science based as well and they have thousands off happy customers, so the results speak for themselves.

Free exercise program for senior men

If you don’t want to cash out for a simple laid out program, you can use the exercises we have illustrated here at Elder Strength. We have shown several workouts you can combine to make a complete workout plan yourself.


We hope you enjoyed reading about these exercise programs for senior men and will try them and find them useful. The important thing is to start light, add weight progressively and be consistent. Those three point will get you strong without injuries no matter what the exercise program is.

Always remember to challenge yourself as well. You are stronger than you think, just make sure you know how to perform the exercise correctly before adding serious weight. Ask a professional trainer in case you are unsure you are performing the exercises correctly.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below! If you enjoy reading about strength training, fitness and health tips for seniors please subscribe to our newsletter and bookmark this site for future reference.

See you next time!

Elder Strength.

2 thoughts on “Exercise programs for senior men”

  1. Hi,

    You’re spot on with the fact that men due to their testosterone & hormone profile being far more capable of building muscle mass than women even later in life.

    Our hormone production does dip as we age and testosterone levels in particular, resistance & HIIT training are great ways to counter this, more T means more muscle mass and more muscle mass leads to greater testosterone production. So training will put you in a positive feedback loop and you can begin to “wind back the clock”

    • Thanks for the comment Nate! Testosterone levels are definitely important and beneficial for building muscle and strength. Then again healthwise t level ate not be all end all factor so to speak. But you are right about the positive loop even with older gentlemen.


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