Senior Health

4/19/2022 | By Larissa Banting

Writer Larissa Banting talks with physical trainer Alicia Jones on the wisdom of using dumbbells for women over 50: from important reasons to start a simple weight-training routine to tips on how to get started.

For many women over 50, the closest to pumping iron they ever get is taking iron supplements, but lifting weights should be part of every workout routine, and using dumbbells is one very smart idea. But knowing the right way to work out – including how much weight to use, how often to work out and what kinds of exercises should you be doing – is paramount to seeing success. Certified Physical Trainer Alicia Jones, who specializes in fitness for women over 50, gives us the skinny on using dumbbells the right way.

A Weighty Issue

While cardio is great for keeping your heart healthy and balancing your blood sugar, it’s only one piece of the fitness puzzle. Weight training tones muscles while building strength, which can improve quality of life as you age.

“As we age, we start to lose lean muscle,” explains Jones. “And if we don’t use it, we lose it, which is why keeping our muscles strong is so important.”

“Everything we do in life can be brought back to weight training. From lifting a heavy box to lifting a grandbaby to simply getting out of the car, all of these daily activities require some amount of muscle strength,” she continues. “Being able to go about your day with ease, and perform daily activities effortlessly with energy, is vital to having a high quality of life now and in the future.”

Related: Questions and answers on age-related muscle loss

The Smart Solution

Dumbbells are a smart addition to your weight training program, not only for their practicality and affordability but also for how efficiently they work the body.

“When you’re holding a weight, you can feel that you’re off balance, so your body is constantly trying to re-create equilibrium by working a lot of muscles to try to keep a weight in one specific area without a lot of movement in other areas of your body,” Jones explains.

She notes, “Working out with dumbbells helps you reduce your risk of compensation by overusing one side of your body over the other, which will help reduce your risk of injuries and make sure that your body is becoming strong as a whole.”

Getting started with dumbbells for women over 50

Trainer Alicia Jones demonstrating lifting weights. The article takes on the wisdom of dumbbells for women over 50, from why to start to tips on beginning a simple weight-lifting routine.

There’s no time like the present to get started. If you’re brand new to dumbbells or weight training, your beginning workouts will be fairly quick because one set might be all that you feel comfortable doing. Choose a weight that feels heavy, yet doable – by the 12th repetition, it should start to feel heavy, but manageable enough that you can continue through to the 15th repetition. After the first set, put the weight down and shake out for 30 seconds to a minute. You’ll want to aim for three sets but if you can only do one to start, that’s fine. The most important thing is to listen to your body.

If you’re just starting out, Jones recommends two to three days a week of weight training. She says, “If you want to start to get into more advanced toning and sculpting, you can do more days. But on average two to three days should be more than enough to get you the strength to tone your body and to feel physically strong.”

When it comes to how many exercises you should do and for how long, it will depend on your current fitness level. Generally, you want to aim for a full-body workout, especially when you’re starting out. Include a leg exercise, back exercise, exercise for your core, a chest exercise, and then exercises for your biceps and triceps. In only six exercises, you’ll have worked your full body for maximum effect in minimal time, ranging from 15 to 45 minutes in total.

Incorporating weights into your workouts is a smart way to keep your body fit and fabulous. Using dumbbells to help build strength while toning is a genius move.

Alicia Jones lost weight and found a healthy lifestyle without fad diets and without punishing physical routines. For 16 years she’s helped transform the health and the lives of women over 50 through her fitness and weight loss strategies. Alicia has appeared on various health and wellness television programs and produced and hosted Health Matters and The View: Health and Wellness on Rogers TV. She has a B.A in Kinesiology and adds many certifications to her list of qualifications, including National Coach of Canada (NCCP), Advanced Sport Nutrition, Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Training Specialist: Canfit-pro, and many others. Discover more at

Larissa Banting