First of all, set this straight right away: strength training is a must for every women. It is not optional. It is not just for men, or for ladies who go to body building competitions. It is important for every one of us, just regular, everyday women.
Benefits of strength training for women over forty
Strength training builds muscle mass
After 35, we lose about 2 pounds of muscle per year if we have an average, quite sedentary lifestyle. Think about it! That is why older ladies look like they are made of skin and bones. The only way to keep muscles is to use them, to do strength training regularly, every week.
Strength training helps to keep bone mass
Research shows (1) that weights training specifically helpful in preventing osteoporosis, one of the big health risks for women.
Gives nice shape and confidence
After I lose weight, I always get sad boobs and bat wing arms. Specific weight training sets for those areas fill up my skin and make me look okay again within a few months. Same way, strength training shapes butts and legs beautifully, too.
More muscle means more calories burnt
Yep. Muscles burn more calories than other tissues like fat. (2) So the more muscle you have, the more calorie you will burn even when you are resting.
Strength training keeps you, well, strong
Do you do any sports for cardio, like skiing, biking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis or badminton? The good news is, having more muscle will give you more power for your favorite sports, and more confidence to try new ones. Or just give you enough strength to carry and lift those groceries and garden soil bags smiling. 🙂
Tips for strengths training for women over 40
1. Warm up. Always.
Warm up is the best defense against sport injuries and also makes strength training more effective. (3) Do a 10-15 minutes full body cardio warm up every time you exercise. YouTube is a great resource for this, use it.
2. Prepare and learn
Starting anything new means a learning process. Give yourself time and carefully learn how to lift those weights safely. Trainers, YouTube, books, google are out there.
3. Protect your joints with correct position
With weight training, it is very important to be in the correct position for the exercise, otherwise we might hurt ourselves. Always make sure you know how your legs, knees, back, head should be aligned before you start new moves.
During the exercise check your position in the mirror. Some rule of thumbs I try to remember: knees stay behind the toes for squats; don’t arch your back, keep it neutral; look up slightly when doing dead lifts.
If anything hurts other then the burning muscle, stop, check, decrease the weights or do the exercise without the weight.
4. Accommodate to your body’s needs
If you have a weak spot, or old injuries, check with your doctor and look for specific recommendations. It is usually possible to find a safe way to work around these issues. For example, I do side planks instead of front planks or crunches, because I still have a teeny bit of diastasis recti, and I do dead lifts instead of squats, to spare my knees.
5. Try super sets
Yep, I love them. They are effective and keep me organized. Just google ‘upper body super sets’ or whatever you need and there’s tons out there. Or check out The body sculpting bible for women, I use theirs. (Not an affiliate link.)
6. Go until you cannot do one more…
Yeah, if you want to grow your muscles, you have to die there, okay? If you feel you have one more push up in you without falling on your face, do that last one! 🙂
7. Increase the length and intensity gradually
It doesn’t make sense and it is not safe to rush strength training. Start with a weight that allows you to do 10-12 repetitions of the same move, rest, then repeat 3 times. Maybe it is the smallest weight available. I started with that one, for sure. 🙂
You have the right size if by the end of 12 reps three times, you are burning and barely able to finish the last moves. But decrease the weight you use if you are only halfway and start using momentum, your legs shake, knees go in, or cannot keep your form, body position, nice and safe.
+1: Get enough protein and water
The sources vary on how much protein they recommend for people doing strength training. Some says 100 grams (4), some says 150 grams (5) for an average size woman. But they agree that it doesn’t have to be right after the workout, it is okay to spread it out evenly throughout the day in 20-25 g chunks with meals. If you want to lose weight, keep carbs on the low side before and after the workout, so you could keep burning fat. And in any case, drink plenty.
These were my two cents on strength training guys, and I ‘d recommend you to add it to your exercise regime. It feels awesome and and have so much benefits!
P.S.: If you are serious about getting fit this year, join my Facebook group for support and inspiration!
As always, I’m not a health care professional, so consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routines, and use common sense.