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This is another post in our series of Fitness Saturday exercises, workouts, and expert tips appropriate to women in the second half of life. Jonathan Urla, a certified advanced health and fitness specialist, shares exercises to improve strength at any age.


In this third installment about strength training to prevent sarcopenia, I want to show some exercises that strengthen very important muscles that we don’t generally think about but that are critical to making us stable and strong all over. I’m talking about the muscles in your torso on both the front and back of your body. You could think of them as postural muscles as they help to hold you up when you stand and sit, and help maintain proper alignment when you move.

Here are three exercises that work these muscles to help keep you strong and stable.

Pull Overs work your upper abdominal and serratus muscles. Lie on a bench and hold a weight with both hands above your chest. Keep your arms slightly bent and rigid as you slowly bring your arms in line with your head. As your arms move over your head, contract your upper abdominals to keep your rib cage from arching and maintain your back flat against the bench. Exhale and slowly bring the weight back above your chest. Do 10 – 15 repetitions. Rest and repeat.

Oblique Curls work the oblique abdominal muscles. Lie on a mat on the floor with your legs bent. Cross your right foot over your left knee and place your left hand behind your head with the elbow out to the side. Exhale and curl your upper torso up and over to the right, keeping your head supported by your hand so your neck stays relaxed. You don’t have to reach your elbow to your knee. Inhale as you return back to start. Do 10 – 15 repetitions. Rest and repeat on the other side.

Flat Back Lifts work the long postural muscles of your back. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Place your hands on your hips and bend your knees a quarter of the way. Inhale as you bend over from your hips with a straight back to a ninety-degree bend. Exhale and stand back up. Be sure to keep your knees slightly bent all the time and don’t round over with your neck or shoulders. Do 10 repetitions. Rest and repeat. As you become stronger, you can do this exercise while holding onto dumbbells.
As a precautionary note, please remember that not all exercises are suitable for all people. For example, people with osteoporosis shouldn’t do forward flexion movements, so that would exclude any sit-up type exercises like the oblique curls shown above. There are always safe alternatives and we will discuss more of those in future posts. In the meantime, enjoy your workouts, be safe and stay active!

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