The 8 Dumbbell Exercises For Seniors For Elderly Adults Dumbbell Workout

Dumbbell exercises for older adults are a great entry point into resistance training as there are many easy dumbbell exercises and you can start with very light weights. Dumbbell exercises are some of the most effective exercises for seniors.

5 min read
Sean's profile
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
Last updated
In This Resource
  • Benefits Of Dumbbell Exercises For Seniors
  • Improved Bone Density
  • Balance and Stability
  • Improved Full Body Strength
  • Inexpensive, Easily Accessible
  • How Seniors Adults Should Train With Dumbbells
  • Put Emphasis On Warming Up
  • Start With Light Weights For Your First Dumbbell Workout
  • Add Load Slowly Over Time To Exercises
  • Use Simple And Easy Dumbbell Exercises
  • Use Weighted Carries
  • Get Technique Coaching
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • How heavy should dumbbells be for seniors?
  • How Can Seniors Use Dumbbell Exercise?
  • References

Dumbbells are one of the most popular training tools for a reason, because they are extremely effective. This is the same for elderly and senior populations. Dumbbells can be a great way to get into resistance training, especially if bodyweight training is too hard, which is perfectly normal if you’re just getting into resistance training in your senior years.

As we age it gets even more important to move on a regular basis, because of the ageing process atrophy of muscle mass occurs. Thankfully resistance training has been shown to combat this muscle loss. Bodyweight workouts can have a similar effect but are much less practical that using the dumbbell or machines. Dumbbell exercises for older adults can help build muscle in the full body including the back, shoulder, chest, arms and legs. So getting your sets and reps in as you age couldn’t be more important.

Benefits Of Dumbbell Exercises For Seniors

Improved Bone Density

Osteoporosis is a massive public health issue, it involves having low bone mass and increased risk of fractures. Roughly 1.5 million fractures occur annually in the united states. Thankfully resistance training has been shown to have a statistically significant effect of bone density and health. Making dumbbell training for seniors an extremely positive health intervention.

Balance and Stability

The effects of resistance training are dramatically important for elderly population as improved balanced, which has been shown to be caused by resistance training, can not only prevent the risk of falls which can lead to further immobilisation, but it can also increase independence in general. Falling is now the second biggest cause of accidental death after traffic accidents , so although reduced fall risk may sound not so important, for elderly individuals it can increase life span.

Improved Full Body Strength

Resistance training with dumbbells using a full body resistance training programme will improve the full body strength of an individual. As strength, specifically grip strength, correlates with risk of death according to multiple studies , it should be consider an essential biomarker in elderly populations.

Inexpensive, Easily Accessible

Dumbbells are a relatively inexpensive tool when considering the benefits listed above. They can be easily purchased online or are accessible in any gym.

How Seniors Adults Should Train With Dumbbells

Put Emphasis On Warming Up

Warming up is an essential part of preparing the body to exercise. If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle then it will be important to put extra emphasis on warming up appropriately for exercise. Warm ups are important at any age, as they have been shown to both prevent injury and improve performance .

Start With Light Weights For Your First Dumbbell Workout

It’s important to start with light manageable weights, this will prevent the risk of injury, but also allow for good skill acquisition, allow more high quality repetitions to be performed and prevent to much muscular soreness being created which can cause negative connotation with exercise.

Add Load Slowly Over Time To Exercises

Using progressive overload, where load is adding over time to increase the stress applied to the body is an excellent way to ensure progression. However this should be done slowly and with consideration in elderly populations.

Use Simple And Easy Dumbbell Exercises

Don’t let learning a lot of technique get in the way of the physical benefits of resistance training with dumbbells, use simple and effective exercises as outlined above.

Use Weighted Carries

Carries with dumbbells and kettlebells are a great way to challenge the entire body and work on a lot of aspects that are important for elderly adults. Try adding these to your next dumbbell workout.

Get Technique Coaching

Learning the technique for the fundamental movement patterns of strength training can be a very powerful health intervention. Once you’re technically competent in these movement patterns its much easier to find and follow effective training programmes with confidence that you are performing the exercises effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

How heavy should dumbbells be for seniors?

The weight of dumbbells used by senior adults is dependent on the exercise and physical condition of the individual. Lower body exercises would typically start between 10-15lbs and upper body exercises between 5-10lbs. The key is to use weights where you can do 8-12 high quality repetitions.

How Can Seniors Use Dumbbell Exercise?

They can use them to increase strength through full body resistance training. For elderly people with very restricted movement patterns, getting some light bodyweight movement in may be a better option, especially if movement has been limited due to a sedentary lifestyle. Have a look at our bodyweight movement library that contains exercise that might be appropriate for elderly people with restricted movement capacity.


  • Bohannon RW. Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker For Older Adults. Clin Interv Aging 2019;14:1681-1691
  • If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below, or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle. This resource was written by Sean Richard Klein. Sean has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

    Sean Richard Klein

    Sean Klein's Signature

    Build Foundational Strength.
    Without The Planning.

    By learning from your training experience, past workouts and available equipment, Programme builds your most optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.