How to Build Muscle After 50 – Strong Legs Into Your 60s and Beyond

Man in 60s doing deadlifts and build muscle after 50. With a woman in the background looking at her phone.

Do you want to be build muscle after 50 and be able to lift weights and train your legs when you’re 60, 70 and 80 years old? With this workout, you can.

As we age, our muscle mass goes down. If you are not active, you will lose 3-5% of your muscle every year. Your muscles will also go away faster the older you get. Although there is a solution, resistance training or weight lifting, fortunately, weight lifting can stop and reverse the effects of muscle deterioration.

Being Safe While Lifting Weights

As you get older, your risk of injury increases. You don’t want your workout to cause problems in your lower back, knees, or hips. If you’re an active person, an injury is a huge inconvenience. What would you do if you lost your mobility?

How To Avoid Injury

If you want to avoid injury but still keep training, then it doesn’t make much sense to use free weights and squat with 400 pounds or more. If you lose your balance or make one wrong move, and you could get a serious injury. This workout will provide you with a safer method for building your legs. Your back will be supported throughout the whole workout, and you’ll have a more controlled range of motion. With this workout, your legs will get bigger and stronger, and you won’t have to worry about injuring yourself.

Find Machine Alternatives

If you still want to do squats with free weights, you should consider using the Smith Machine. The Smith Machine is definitely a safer piece of equipment than loading weights on a barbell. If you’re unfamiliar with this equipment, it’s very similar to doing squats with a barbell and plates. But instead, you’ll be using cables with safety devices on both sides. With the Smith Machine, you don’t have to worry about balancing the weight.

The Muscles You’ll Use

These are the muscles you’ll be training with this leg workout:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves

The Equipment You’ll Need

For this workout, you will need two-three pieces of equipment. We will need a leg press or squat machine a hamstring curl machine and a calf raise machine. Although, you can get away with performing calf raises on a leg press or squat machine. Gyms have various types of equipment and brand names that will be similar to the ones named in the workout instructions below.

Build Muscle After 50 – Your Leg Building Strategy

Your legs have very strong muscles. You’ll find that you can lift heavier weights during your leg workouts than with other routines. For that reason, it’s important that you use proper form so you don’t injure your back and other joints.

With that being said, you’ll often find that you can make bigger and quicker gains with your leg workouts. For example, over the course of a few months, you might find that you’re increasing your weights on a weekly basis. When this happens, you’ll really notice your legs taking shape!

The Key To Staying Injury-Free

The key to staying injury-free and making gains is to use good form and not over train your muscles. You need to let your muscles rest in between your workouts. You should consider training your legs once a week in the middle of the week. This way, it gives your upper body a day to rest before your next workout. You can perform your leg workout twice a week if you’re able to. You might find, though, that it takes you 3 to 4 days to recover from this workout. Follow up each workout with a protein shake, and your legs will never be the same.

5 Principles To Build Muscle After 50

Building Muscle After 50 - The Definitive Guide

Your Leg Building Workout

Your calves and quads each have three muscle groups: inner, outer, and medial. This workout will hit all of these muscle groups, either individually or together in groups. 

You should do all reps to failure, which refers to the point at which you can’t lift any more weight after completing the last rep.


The older you get, the longer it will take for your legs to warm up. When you were younger, you could probably start your workout off with some squats, but you may not be able to anymore. Instead, try starting with your calves. It’s a little unorthodox, but it might just work.

Your calf muscles are among the most used muscles in your body. From the time you crawl out of bed in the morning until you are back in bed that night, you’re using your calves. With this theory in mind, why not work your calves first when you get to the gym? Your calves should already be warmed up from using them throughout the day. Work them hard and burn them out before you attack the larger muscle groups. By then, your heart will be pumping, your body warmed up, and your blood circulating. Now it’s time to work your larger leg muscles.

Quadricep (Thigh) Workout

There are lots of theories about the order in which you should complete your quad exercises. Figure out which one works for you and follow it, or change your routine up regularly. For this workout, try working your quads first.

Now lower the weight until your legs are at a 90-degree angle, then push back up. Repeat. Do 4 sets with 8 to 10 reps.

Calf Workout

With all calf exercises, it’s not the weight you use that’s important — it’s your form. You want your heels to go down as far as they can. Next, rise up onto the balls of your feet and your toes as high as you can. You might not be able to do this if you’re using too much weight.

Calf Raise: Use any calf raise machine you don’t have to use a plate loaded machine like the one shown. LifeFitness makes a standing calf raise machine and has pads for your shoulders to press up against and bars for you to hold onto with your hands.

Additionally, you can use the leg press or squat machine to perform calf extensions or calf raises. The leg press machine is excellent for this since you can place your toes near the bottom of the plate. Drop your heels down as far as they will go for a reasonable extension. Nxt push up onto the balls of your feet and your toes as high as you can. Repeat. Do four sets with 10 to 12 reps.

Hamstring Workout

There are a few different pieces of equipment you can use for your hamstrings. Find one that works best for you. Adjusted the machine so the bar is just above your ankles. Ensure that you can curl your legs all the way up.

Use Caution

For most of these machine getting in and out of can be the most dangerous part. Once you are settled in the machine it is very safe and restricts your range of motions. Although, be sure not to hyperextend your legs or bend your legs to more than a 90-degree angle. You can keep using these leg exercises indefinitely, into your 60s and beyond. Just adjust the weights as needed. 

If you are not convinced that you should build muscle after 50, you should know what the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) thinks. The CDC promotes physical activity over all other disease preventions, except maybe washing your hands (1).

Additional Exercises

Check out our exercise tutorials and how-to articles on lifting with proper form. These articles will help execute lifts properly and build muscle after 50.

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