Hand Weight Exercises For Seniors [With Tips]

Welcome friend! In this post, you will learn about hand weight exercises for seniors and how to do them effectively. And which hand weights are best for you.

Hand weights are useful for doing strength training exercises at home or at the gym.

You can use them to add resistance gradually to many exercises. This helps you build strength and muscle over time.

Strength training is very important as you get older. This is because it helps you keep your ability to function independently.

Strength training can also improve your overall health and help prevent many common age-related diseases.

But the idea of going to the gym to lift heavy weights and doing grueling long workouts might not feel very enticing to you.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do either to improve your muscle strength. Strength training can be done at home and it doesn’t have to be that hard to reap the benefits.

In fact, I think strength training should always be enjoyable. Once you get the hang of it, you tend to improve your strength automatically as you start to like the progression and benefits.

This is why hand weights are great. They allow you to start off very easily and build a routine of strength training at home.

Then if you want to go to the gym, there will be similar hand weights there to start with.

What Are Hand Weights

Hand weights are any kind of external free weights that you can hold on to with your hands. You are likely thinking of dumbbells when talking about hand weights.

But I personally think kettlebells can be classified as hand weights as well. There are also different kinds of handheld weights that are not exactly dumbbells but can be considered hand weights.

Even barbells can be considered hand weights but I personally like to think of them as a separate training tool. This is because they are generally held with two hands and loaded with much greater weight.

Hand weights are considered free weights. This means that they are not connected to any kind of external mechanisms and the work is always done against gravity when you lift them.

This has both benefits and limitations. When you train with free weights you are training in a way that transfers well to the day-to-day. This improves your functional strength. I talked more about this in the article Free Weight Exercises For Seniors.

Most things you move lift in real life are against gravity. With free weight training, your body is used to this type of lifts quite well.

The biggest limitation is that there are situations in real life where you have to apply force in other directions than against gravity. For example when pulling or pushing something heavy.

It can also take quite a bit of imagination and knowledge to train all of your muscle groups in every possible direction effectively with free weights.

This is where gym machines like pulleys and exercise bands can be really handy in training your whole body efficiently.

A Word About Training With Hand Weights

Before we look at some hand weight exercises, I want to talk a bit about how to train with hand weight effectively.

If you don’t have any experience with strength training you might be at a bit of a loss about what to do with hand weights.

Typically when you pick up dumbbells for the first time you do a few bicep curls and maybe some overhead presses and call it a day.

While these exercises are beneficial this is unfortunately not enough to reap all the benefits of strength training for your health.

It’s more important to focus on your leg and core strength over upper body strength.

The good news is that you can use hand weights to increase the effectiveness of leg strength and core exercises as well.

A good way to train with hand weights is to perform a full-body workout a couple of days a week.

Another great option is to train every major muscle group once a week in different workout sessions.

A common way to think about the major muscle groups is to split them into legs, pushing, and pulling groups.

Examples of exercises that you can use hand weights in for legs include squat variations and deadlifts.

For pushing movements you can do different kinds of presses, flys, and tricep extensions. For pulling movements you can use hand weight to do rows and bicep curls.

Let’s look at the in a bit more detail.

Dumbbell Hand Weight Exercises For Seniors

Dumbbells are the most common hand weights and you are likely already at least a bit familiar with them.

Dumbbells come in many sizes and weights. I personally think adjustable steel dumbells are the best option like I talked about in the article Dumbbell Workout For Seniors.

This is because you can add weight to the exercises gradually without having to buy completely new dumbbells.

The only problem with these types of dumbells is that they can be too heavy if you have lost a significant amount of strength due to aging. If this is the case, you should plan your workout routine with a physiotherapist or other medical professionals.

The best exercises you can perform with dumbbells are:

Overhead press

The overhead press targets the shoulder muscles and the triceps and helps you build functional upper body strength. You can learn more about dumbbell overhead presses in the article Shoulder Press For Seniors.

Dumbbell Squat

You can use dumbbells to add weight to bodyweight squats by holding them in both hands while performing squats.

Dumbbells can also be used to perform goblet squats where you hold a single heavy dumbbell in front of your chest.

You can learn more about the dumbbell squat variation in the article Squats For Seniors.

Dumbbell row

The dumbbell row is a great upper body strength exercise that helps you build back and arm strength for pulling. You can learn about the dumbbell row in the article Back Strengthening Exercises For The Elderly.

Kettlebell Hand Weight Exercises For Seniors

Kettlebells are a great hand weight option for strength training for seniors. Lighter kettlebells can be used with one hand but heavier kettlebells are typically used for two-hand exercises.

Kettlebells on a rack

Unlike dumbbells, you can use kettlebells easily to do different kinds of exercises where the weight hangs freely between your legs.

Two main ones are kettlebell deadlifts and kettlebell swings. Kettlebell deadlifts are especially great for seniors because they help you build functional strength for lifting heavy objects from the ground.

Kettlebell Romanian deadlifts are great for building hip and hamstring strength. They are also great for hamstring flexibility which is very important for your health. I talked about this in the article Hamstring Stretches For Seniors.

You can learn more about kettlebell deadlifts and swings in the articles Deadlift For Seniors and Kettlebell For Seniors.

A Great Option To Hand Weight Exercises For Seniors

If you don’t have hand weights and are thinking about getting them for strength training you might not need them.

There is a great option for training with any kind of equipment. It’s of course bodyweight training.

You can do strength training for your whole body completely free by performing a few bodyweight exercises.

Bodyweight squats, planks and sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups are very effective for building functional strength.

While many of them might seem hard, for you there are variations that are easier to do.

You can learn more about bodyweight training in the article Calisthenics For Seniors.

You can also learn more about specific bodyweight exercises in the articles Planks For Seniors, Sit-Ups For Seniors, Push-Ups For Seniors, and Pull-ups For Seniors.


As a recap, hand weight exercises are beneficial if you want to do strength training at home but there are other options as well.

Dumbbells and kettlebells are the most common types of hand weights. Dumbbells are generally better for upper body training like presses and rows. Kettlebells are better for lower body exercises like deadlifts.

Bodyweight training is always a good option as it doesn’t require any special equipment.

I hope you found this article useful and if any questions popped into your mind don’t hesitate to leave them below. I do my best to answer all my readers questions.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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