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5 Moves to Keep You Strong When You Skip the Gym

Everyday actions can work your stomach muscles, glutes and more, even without exercise

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Illustrations by Tara Jacoby

For a fit body and mind in your 50s, regular exercise is key. Still, there are days when you just can’t face the treadmill. We asked personal trainer Kirk Charles, proprietor of the online training program Fit Beyond 40, for his favorite ways to stay strong and limber when the gym is off the table.

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1. Pull your stomach in

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To increase abdominal power without crunches, suck in your stomach. Stand straight, exhale, pull in your belly, and hold for 20 to 30 seconds (or as long as you can). Do 3 to 5 reps.

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2. Clench those glutes

You can build a stronger, less saggy butt by clenching those butt cheeks. This move works the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus — a twerking trifecta. Stand, clench as tight as possible, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Start with 3 to 5 reps, gradually increasing the number over time. (If you clench your abs simultaneously, you’ll strengthen your lower back; your glutes and abs help pull your pelvis into a powerful position.)

3. Circle your arms

For shoulder power, extend your arms out, each to its respective side, and make 10 small forward circles. Then make 10 small backward circles. You’ll probably feel a slight muscle burn after that amount. Next, try doing 3 to 5 reps forward and backward. This will work your deltoids and rotator cuff muscles. Add in larger circles to increase your range of motion.

4. Sit up straight

If you slump when you sit, this can lead to postural problems. Focus on sitting upright to strengthen your back and neck. 

5. Use the stairs

If you live or work in a building with a staircase, take advantage of it. You may not feel like hiking or jogging, but your quads still need to be worked. Even walking up just a couple of flights of stairs on a regular basis can help you develop power and stamina over the long run.​

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