The 10 Best Leg Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

THE BEST LEG EXERCISES FOR SENIORS

Here are the 10 best legs strengthening exercises for seniors.

Perform 10-12 repetitions of each of these exercises (at least three times per week) after a warm up.

Remember to take take your time and slowly progress.

If needed, start with 1 set of 10-12 (or less) repetitions and work up to 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions for exercises.

If these exercise are too easy, or they become too easy with the repetitions and sets, add in dumbbells and/or resistance bands.

Always be challenging yourself by progressing the exercises.

Once performed and performed consistently you'll notice big differences in your leg strength, many of your everyday activities feeling a whole lot easier with your newly strengthened legs.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 1: SQUAT

MUSCLES WORKED

Buttocks (glutes), thighs (quads), hips, calves, core and back.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

HOW TO:

  • Standing up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Holding onto your chair with both hands.

  • Hinging at the hips and sitting back as if you were sitting on a chair.

  • As you sit back, go no deeper than 90 degrees and as you stand back up.

  • Put equal weight through both legs.

  • Make sure your knees don’t go over the line of your toes and they aren’t moving inward throughout the exercise.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

For Video Demonstration of the Squat: Click Here

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: This exercise can be made more challenging by using no hands, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbell.

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EASIER VARIATION - PARTIAL SQUAT

Perform this variation if you have difficulty or get pain with the standard squat.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

HOW TO:

  • Standing up tall with your feet shoulder width apart.

  • Holding onto your chair with both hands.

  • Hinging at the hips and sitting back as if you were sitting on a chair.

  • Only go to a depth of about 45 degrees before you come back up. 

  • Put equal weight through both legs.

  • Make sure your knees don’t go over the line of your toes and the aren’t moving inward throughout the exercise.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

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For Video Demonstration of the Partial Squat: Click Here

STRENGTH EXERCISE 2: SIT-TO-STAND

MUSCLES WORKED

Buttocks (glutes), thighs (quads), hips, calves, core and back.

DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate (depending on hand use)

HOW TO:

  • Sitting up tall in your chair, with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Shuffle forward to the front of your chair.

  • From this position, bringing your feet back, so your heels are behind your knees.

  • With your hands on the chair, on the arm-rests of the chair, or on your thighs, you’re going to lean forward at the hips so your nose comes over your toes.

  • Now stand up putting equal weight through both feet/legs.

  • Make sure you fully extend your legs at the knees and the hips.

  • And to sit down, hinging at the hips, reaching for the chair and sitting down.

  • Make sure to keep your chest up throughout the exercise.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

  • Also, make sure that your knees remain in line with your toes, and they don’t move inwards when you sit down and stand up.

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For Video Demonstration of the Sit-To-Stand: Click Here

EASIER VARIATION: This exercise can be made easier by using arms to assist or using a higher chair.

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: This exercise can be made more challenging by using no hands, using a lower chair or adding in in dumbbells or resistance bands.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 3: CHAIR DEADLIFT

MUSCLES WORKED

Buttocks (glutes), thighs (quads), hips, calves, core and back.

DIFFICULTY: Harder

HOW TO:

  • Place your resistance band flat on the floor.

  • Sitting up tall towards the front of your chair.

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the resistance band and face your toes slightly outwards and keep your knees in line with your toes.

  • Reach down and grab hold of your resistance band and maintain your upright posture with your shoulders back and down and your chest up.

  • Also maintain straight arms whilst holding onto the resistance band, and keep your shoulders back and down in good posture whilst holding onto the resistance band.

  • Loosen or tighten the resistance band as needed to work your strength.

  • From this position, whilst only holding onto the resistance, stand up, just like the sit to stand exercise now holding onto the resistance band.

  • Ensure you completely straighten your knees and hips and squeezing your buttocks when you come to the top of the movement.

  • Now slowly sit back down.

  • Keep equal weight through both legs throughout the exercise and make sure your knees aren’t moving inward throughout the exercise.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

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For Video Demonstration of the Deadlift: Click Here

EASIER VARIATION: Lighter weight/resistance.

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using Heavier resistance bands, Using no chair, using a barbell.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 4: REVERSE LUNGE

The Reverse Lunge is a great exercise as it trains single leg strength. We are exercising one leg at a time, helping to ensure both our legs are getting stronger. This is good for activities such as walking stairs.

MUSCLES WORKED

Buttocks (glutes), thighs (quads), hips, calves, core and back.

DIFFICULTY: Harder

HOW TO:

  • Standing up tall, with both hands on the chair. 

  • Take a large step directly backwards and drop down just before the floor.

  • Come back up and repeat for the opposite leg.

  • Keep your body upright throughout the exercise, ensuring the knee of your front foot does not come past the line of your toes.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

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For Video Demonstration of the Reverse Lunge: Click Here

EASIER VARIATION: Don’t go as low to the floor

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using no chair, using dumbbells, using a light barbell.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 5: CALF RAISES (Up On Toes)

MUSCLES WORKED

Back of lower legs (Calves).

DIFFICULTY: Easy

HOW TO:

  • Standing up tall with your feet about hip width apart.

  • Keeping your knees straight and holding onto the chair with both hands.

  • Coming up on to the toes, raising your heels up off the floor, holding briefly and slowly lowering yourself back down.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

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For Video Demonstration of Calf Raises: Click Here

EASIER VARIATION: Seated

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using no chair, using dumbbells.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 6: HIP ABDUCTIONS (Leg Sideways - Straight)

MUSCLES WORKED

Buttocks (glutes), thighs (TFL)

DIFFICULTY: Easy

HOW TO:

  • Standing tall with your feet close together and holding on to your chair.

  • Slowly bring your leg out to the side and in a controlled motion bringing your feet back together.

  • Ensure you keep your toes facing the front throughout this exercise, also make sure that you do not lean during this exercise or hitch your pelvis.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions and change legs.

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For Video Demonstration of Hip Abductions: Click Here

EASIER VARIATION: Seated

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using no chair, using resistance bands

STRENGTH EXERCISE 7: HIP EXTENSIONS (Leg BACKWARDS - Straight)

DIFFICULTY: Easy

MUSCLES WORKED

Buttocks (glutes), and back of the thighs (hamstrings).

HOW TO:

  • Placing both hands on your chair and standing up tall.

  • Keeping your legs straight slowly bring it back behind you and then bring your feet back together.

  • Repeat for the set number of repetitions and do the same on the opposite leg.

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For Video Demonstration of Hip Extensions: Click Here

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using resistance bands, ankle weights.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 8: KNEE FLEXIONS (KNEE BACK BENDS)

MUSCLES WORKED

Back of the thighs (Hamstrings).

DIFFICULTY: Easy

HOW TO:

  • Standing up tall, holding onto your chair, with your feet close together.

  • Bending your leg at the knee, lifting your foot up towards your buttocks, holding briefly and returning your foot back to the ground.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions and do the same on the opposite leg.

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For Video Demonstration of Knee Flexions: Click Here

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using resistance bands, ankle weights.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 9: SEATED KNEE EXTENSIONS (Knee Straightens)

MUSCLES WORKED

Quadriceps (Thighs)

DIFFICULTY: Easy

HOW TO:

  • Sitting up tall with your shoulders back and down. 

  • Lifting one leg up, extending at the knee.

  • Hold briefly at the top of the movement, squeezing the muscles at the front of the thigh before lowering your leg back down.

  • Ensure the movement is slow and controlled.

  • Alternate legs, ensuring full knee extension (leg completely straight).

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

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For Video Demonstration of Knee Extensions: Click Here

PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using resistance bands, ankle weights.

STRENGTH EXERCISE 10: SEATED HIP ADDUCTIONS (Thigh Squeezes)

DIFFICULTY: Easy

MUSCLES WORKED

Groin/inner thighs (Hip Adductors)

HOW TO

  • Sitting up tall, in your chair, shuffle forward to the middle of the chair.

  • In this position, using a cushion or a rolled up towel, place the item between your knees.

  • Bring your feet in, ensuring they are in line with your knees.

  • Whilst holding the cushion lightly with your knees, you're now going to squeeze the cushion using your knees.

  • Hold this for 5 seconds and relax.

  • Repeat for the set repetitions.

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For Video Demonstration of Seated Hip Abductions: Click Here

And there you have 10 of the best leg strengthening exercises for seniors.

Do these exercises consistently for strong, steady legs.

If you’d prefer just to do exercises with me through video, here are more leg strengthening videos (click below)

For More Leg Strengthening Exercise videos

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