This is your guide to go alongside the 6 week beginners strength programme for older adults.

It provides you with further detail on how the program works, and a guide for each exercise and the progressions! 

If you are a beginner or you just want to know more- please read this guide before starting the program to ensure you know what you are doing and you make the most out of it.

If you just want to find out how to perform a specific exercise head to the ‘Learn Beginners Exercises’ page for videos and instructions!


The program sets out two strength training days per week over a 6 week period. There are a mixture of compound exercises (those that work multiple muscles and joints at the same time) and accessory exercises (those that work one specific muscle group). 

Each exercise has various levels of difficulty which you can choose from, and use to progress. 

You are in charge of determining where you are currently at, and, importantly, ensuring you progress when these are getting easy! If you are easily reaching the end of the exercise without being out of huff or any difficulty, you know you are ready to progress. 

Public health guidelines recommend that adults should be performing resistance or strength training at least twice a week (1). A frequency of 2-3x per week is currently considered adequate to provide the optimal stimulus to maximise muscle growth and strength in older adults (2).

This guide provides two programmed days per week to meet these guidelines. 

If you have time, and you want another session, please feel free to add another session with a combination of the exercises! However please don’t feel you need to do this. Significant strength improvements are seen with a frequency of twice per week. Alternatively adding in an extra day might something you want to do occasionally, or might be something to add in after you have completed one whole 6 week program and you want to repeat it again!

The sessions

Each session starts with a short warm up to get you moving, get your muscles working and increase your heart rate. 

For the first three weeks each exercise should be performed for 1 minute, with a 1 minute rest, then on to the next exercise. 

You should do as many of each exercise as you can within the minute, however each exercise should be performed well and in a controlled way. 

You might find at the start you need a short rest before the end of the minute- this is fine! You are aiming by the end of the program to perform each exercise well for the full minute. 

Some of the exercises are using a single leg at a time- perform these exercises on one leg for 30 seconds, and then on the other leg for the other 30 seconds

The final three weeks of the program shorten the rest period to 30 seconds between each exercise. If you feel ready to try this earlier on, go for it! Or if you are still not ready for this by week 4, don’t panic- you can keep the rest period to a minute. The rest periods are just a guide, and are something to aim for! 

Each session should take you about 20 minutes- a very do-able time for most people! 

If you are finding it too easy, or would like to repeat the programme, we would recommend you increase the time of each exercise: try 1:30 with a 1 minute rest period for example. Alternatively try to perform the whole cycle of exercises twice! 


The two sessions have been split to largely focus on different areas of the body with the compound exercises, with a mixture of accessory exercises. Together these exercises cover all of our major muscles! 

Variations of each exercise are detailed in the Learn Exercises section- head there now to learn how to perform the exercises and watch videos! 

If you are finding as the weeks progress that you can easily perform an exercise for the entire minute, have a look at the harder variations- this means you are ready to progress!


The basics: your bodyweight, some floor space, a wall, a chair, a step or something to step on to, two weighted objects (water bottles, tins etc will do)

Some equipment which may be useful for the progressions: light dumbbells, a resistance band. 

What’s Next? 

Once you’ve completed the six weeks, why not have a look at this guide again and see where you can progress the exercises to make them harder and have another go?!

Once you have managed to progress your exercises and you feel comfortable with the key movement patterns it is time to give our intermediate program a go. This program requires you to have a grasp of the basic movement patterns covered in this program, and starts to work on progressing your muscle strength further.