5 Best Weight-Loss Workouts for Seniors — Eat This Not That

When structuring the ultimate weight-loss workouts for seniors, it’s important to address multiple aspects crucial for overall well-being. The below workouts aim to enhance functional strength, boost mobility, and cultivate resilience to prevent injuries, all while facilitating calorie-burning effects for superb weight loss. By incorporating exercises that promote strength, flexibility, and endurance and enhance metabolic rate, seniors can enjoy improved fitness and better manage their weight-loss journey.

Here are five highly effective weight-loss workouts for seniors, each designed to engage the entire body. By incorporating compound exercises, these sessions efficiently promote strength, lean muscle development, and overall fat loss.

Remember, age is just a number when pursuing your fitness goals. With determination, commitment, and consistency, seniors can achieve remarkable results in their weight-loss journey.

Keep reading for the five best weight-loss workouts for seniors. And when you’re finished, don’t miss A 63-Year-Old Yoga Instructor’s Top 3 Moves for Better Mobility.

Workout #1: Pulls and Presses

This list of weight-loss workouts for seniors kicks off with pulls and presses. This routine is sure to challenge you from head to toe. Engage your posterior chain, test your upper-body strength and stability, and finish strong with an exceptional core movement.

1. Kettlebell Deadlifts

kettlebell deadlift

I love using kettlebell deadlift variations when training clients with weight-loss goals. The multiple variations, single, double, suitcase, and sumo, allow many weight-loss exercise options to boost your metabolism, build strength and lean muscle mass, and energize excitement.

If the range of motion is a hindering factor, prop the kettlebells on blocks to develop positional strength, working from above the knee, below the knee, and slightly off the floor positions.

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, bend your knees and push your hips back to reach down and grip the kettlebell(s). Push through your heels and bring your hips forward to stand up, squeezing your glutes. Keep your back straight, your core tight, and the kettlebell(s) close to you as you move. Carefully return the kettlebell(s) to the floor by reversing the movement.

Complete three sets of 10 to 15 reps with 90 seconds of rest between sets.

2. Alternating Dumbbell Bench Presses

Engaging in the alternating dumbbell bench press requires notable strength and stability. Extending one dumbbell while pressing the other pushes your muscles to exert greater effort, intensifying the exercise. This heightened demand not only enhances the effectiveness of the workout but also targets key muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.

To begin, lie flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand at chest level, palms facing forward. Engage your core, and extend both arms upward. Lower one dumbbell toward your chest while keeping the other arm straight, then press it back up while lowering the opposite dumbbell.

Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps each with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

3. Cable Pallof Presses

Cable Palloff presses offer seniors a targeted method to strengthen the midsection, enhance core stability, and reduce love handles. This exercise engages the entire core, including the obliques and transverse abdominis, by resisting rotational forces generated by the cable. The continuous tension applied to the core during Cable Palloff presses helps sculpt and define the midsection while fostering overall core strength, which is essential for functional movement and daily activities.

Start by attaching a single handle to a cable machine at chest height. Stand sideways to the machine, feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Grip the handle close to your chest with both hands, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Activate your core to stabilize your torso. Extend your arms ahead of you, pushing the handle away from your body. Hold this position briefly, ensuring your torso remains stable and your arms fully extended. Slowly bring the handle back to your chest, resisting the cable’s pull. Repeat for desired reps, then switch sides.

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Complete three sets of 10 to 15 presses per side with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #2: Functional Weight Loss

Nothing gets more functional in aiding weight loss than this workout.

1. Sled Pushes

sled push illustration exercise

Sled pushes offer many benefits for enhancing metabolism, building full-body strength, and aiding in weight-loss maintenance. By engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, sled pushes trigger a substantial metabolic response, leading to increased calorie burn during and after the workout.

This exercise targets the lower body, core, back, and shoulders, promoting overall strength development. Moreover, the high-intensity nature of sled pushes elevates heart rate and stimulates fat loss, making it an effective tool for sustaining weight-loss progress.

To perform sled pushes, load the sled with an appropriate weight and stand behind it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the handles, brace your core, and push the sled forward by driving through your legs. Maintain a steady pace, keeping your back straight and your shoulders engaged. Push the sled across the desired distance, then rest and repeat. Start with lighter weights, and focus on proper form to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury.

Perform three to five sets of 15 to 30 yards with 60 to 90 seconds of rest between sets.

2. Bear Holds with Dumbbell Rows

For seniors, focusing on exercises that target the upper back and lats can be beneficial for functional qualities of upper-body strength, stability, and improving posture. Opting for rows from a bear hold or all fours position works your lats, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and traps while adding in an element of core activation, aiding in sculpting and strengthening the midsection. This variation ensures a balanced approach to fitness, promoting both upper-body strength and core stability, which are essential for seniors looking to maintain overall health and mobility.

Begin this exercise by assuming the bear holds on all fours, with your hands positioned beneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lift your knees slightly off the ground, creating a tabletop position while maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels. Engage your core muscles as you perform rows, pulling one elbow toward the ceiling in a controlled motion. Alternate between arms, focusing on stability and core activation throughout the exercise.

Complete three sets of 8 to 12 reps per side with 90 seconds of rest between sets.

3. Suitcase Carry

The suitcase carry holds a prominent place in many of my fitness programs, particularly for seniors aiming to lose weight. This exercise targets the core, lower back, and shoulders, simultaneously challenging grip strength. Its functional benefits are unparalleled, making it a valuable addition to any workout routine.

Incorporating suitcase carries into your regimen can help fortify your core, improve stability, and boost overall functional strength, essential components for successful weight loss.

Select a challenging dumbbell or kettlebell, pick it up with one hand, and walk in a controlled manner, keeping it by your side like a suitcase. Focus on squeezing and stabilizing your core, maintaining a tall posture. Carry the weight for a set distance or time, then switch hands. Start with a lighter weight, and progress gradually for optimal results.

Perform three sets of 30 to 60-second reps with 120 seconds between each set.

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Workout #3: Full-body HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

Next up on this list of weight-loss workouts for seniors, we have full-body high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Although the term HIIT often brings to mind intense workouts, I curated exercises tailored to be more senior-friendly while still capturing the essence of HIIT training.

1. Box Squat to Press

I love using this regression of a thruster for those who may lack mobility (for now) to complete a deep squat or are new to the idea of combining a squat with a push press, creating the calorie-incinerating dumbbell thruster.

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Stand in front of a box or bench with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your glutes touch the box or bench, then press through heels to stand up, simultaneously pressing dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended. Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height as you squat down, then repeat for desired reps. Maintain proper form throughout, keeping back straight, chest up, and knees aligned with toes. Start with light dumbbells, and gradually increase weight as you become comfortable.

Complete three to four rounds of continuous reps for 30 to 45 seconds with 60 seconds of rest between rounds.

2. Alternating Kettlebell Swings

one-arm kettlebell swing

Kettlebell swings offer seniors an effective way to strengthen the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back while promoting lean muscle development. Incorporating kettlebell swings into a HIIT workout or cardio intervals can help seniors boost their metabolism and burn fat efficiently.

Seniors can opt for the alternating variation of kettlebell swings for added core and upper-body engagement. This variation provides versatility and ensures a well-rounded workout experience.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, grasping a kettlebell with one arm while standing tall. Hinge at your hips, maintaining straight arms, then explosively drive your hips forward to swing the kettlebell to chest height, powered by momentum from your lower body. Return the kettlebell between your legs in the hinge position, and repeat the movement.

Perform three to four rounds of continuous reps for 30 to 45 seconds with 60 seconds of rest between rounds.

3. Med Ball Front Slam

illustration of medicine ball slams

The front slam is a high-effort, ab shredding exercise that’s fun and shreds fat—and stress. Disclaimer: Use a med ball you can slam fast and one that does not bounce.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest. Squeeze your core and maintain a slight knee bend. Lift the medicine ball overhead, Straightening your arms fully, then slam the med ball down toward the ground in front of you. Target the ground directly in front of your feet.

Complete four to six rounds of 30 seconds with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #4: Bodyweight Training

While weightlifting has benefits, let’s not overlook the power of bodyweight workouts. Nothing quite matches the efficacy of moving your body weight when the goal is to enhance functional strength and lose weight.

1. Bodyweight Box Step-ups

illustration of step-ups

Box step-ups are fantastic for targeting your lower body muscles, particularly your quadriceps. When incorporated into a superset, they add an element of cardiovascular challenge while promoting muscular endurance and strength.

In addition, the calorie-burning benefits of this exercise make it a valuable addition to any weight loss-focused routine. Furthermore, the unilateral nature of step-ups helps address any muscle imbalances and enhances overall functional fitness.

Start by standing before a sturdy box or bench with your feet hip-width apart. Step onto the box with your right foot, pressing through your right foot to push your body upward. Bring your left foot up to meet your right foot on top of the box, then lower yourself back down with control. Alternate legs for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on keeping your chest and core engaged throughout the movement. Adjust the box height to match your fitness level.

Perform three to four sets of eight to 15 repetitions per side with 90 seconds of rest between supersets.

2. Incline Pushups

incline pushups illustration exercise to get rid of holiday weight gain

Incline pushups are a fantastic entry point for enhancing upper-body strength and revving up your metabolism. As you progress, you can challenge yourself further by lowering the incline or transitioning to traditional pushups. This gradual advancement ensures continuous improvement in strength and metabolic rate.

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To begin, find a sturdy elevated surface like a bench or step. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the surface, and step your feet back into a plank position, keeping your body straight from your head to your heels. Engage your core, and lower your chest toward the surface by bending your elbows, ensuring they stay close to your body. Lower until your chest is close to touching the surface, then push through your palms to return to the starting position.

Complete three sets of eight to 15 reps. Mix in tempos and pauses to increase the intensity!

3. Plank with Pull-through

Plank pull-throughs activate various muscle groups, including the core, shoulders, and arms, which elevates metabolism and burns more calories. This compound exercise not only aids in fat burning but also boosts metabolic rate, making it a valuable component of any effective workout regimen.

Begin in a plank position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body straight. Place a weight beside you, then reach under with the opposite hand to grab it. Pull the weight across your body to the other side while maintaining stability.

Knock out three rounds in 45 seconds with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #5: Cardio Sessions

This list of weight-loss workouts for seniors wraps up with cardio. For this workout, it’s up to you to choose which movement you’d like to use, and I’ll supply the intervals! The options are endless: stationary bike, rower, ski erg, treadmill, running, jump ropes, jumping jacks—you name it. These cardio sessions will improve heart health, boost endurance, and ramp up metabolism.

1. Steady-state Cardio

illustration of man rowing

When it comes to cardio for weight loss, nothing beats steady-state intervals to maximize the potential effects. For this workout, keep your heart rate between 60% and 70%. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, use the “conversation pace” as a guide. Keep the effort up, but stay at a pace where you can maintain a conversation with a friend.

For a steady-state workout, accumulate the prescribed time for working out. Compared to high-impact exercises like jumping rope and jacks, I’d recommend options such as stationary bikes, rowers, ski ergs, treadmills, or light jogging.

Complete one to two sets of 20 to 30 minutes of movement. The next time you go to do this workout, aim to complete more total distance or reps depending on the exercise.

2. Steady-state Cardio Intervals

exercise bike

Knocking out a cardio workout for weight loss using intervals keeps your workouts fun and effective. Working with shorter durations and minimal rest allows you to incorporate other exercises besides traditional cardio machines.

Use traditional cardio equipment such as bikes, rowers, ski ergs, or treadmills, or challenge yourself with low-impact strength movements like box step-ups, lunges, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or jump rope. When this workout is repeated, aim to complete more reps.

Perform one to two sets of eight to 12 rounds of three minutes of work with one minute of rest. Allow yourself to recover for two to three minutes between sets.

3. HIIT Intervals


HIIT intervals ramp up the intensity with bursts of high-energy movements guaranteed to get your heart racing, making them perfect for seniors looking to add a spark to their workouts.

You can combine exercises or utilize the same movement for HIIT workouts for all sets. Examples are kettlebell swings, burpees, planks with shoulder taps, sled pushes, or low-impact movements like treadmill, rower, or bike sprints. Ensure the number of exercises you use aligns with the rounds you’ll complete. Here’s a quick example:

Complete two to three sets of four to eight rounds with 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest. Allow three to five minutes of recovery between rounds.

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