Often resistance training, or to put it simply, lifting weights, brings up images of an Arnold Schwarzenegger type body. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially for women. For females of any age to get that type of body, it takes a huge amount of work, both in the gym, and nutritionally. Thirty to sixty minutes in the gym, using average or light weights just will not do the job, if you’re looking for a muscular body, that will take you to being a competitor in a weightlifting competition.
For women, it’s especially difficult to bulk up. It can be done, but it takes dogged adherence to a very strict high protein, no fat diet, and a serious weights program. Resistance training with light weights will not bulk you up! This is a common belief amongst some women, and it is incorrect. I’ve been following a weights program for 35 years and can say that I definitely have never developed that type of body. At times, over those years, I have regularly lifted very heavy weights, and have never built an extremely muscular body.
Strength training does not have to mean lifting heavy weights. Lifting light weights can also bring huge benefits. My main tip would be to be consistent. Lift weights three times weekly, and over time you will see huge increases in strength and fitness. Start with a light weight and do 12 repetitions for 3 sets. Don’t worry if the weight feels very very light, as it is preparing your muscles for a little more intensive exercise down the track.
After a couple of weeks, start adding more repetitions, until you get to 20, keeping the weight light. When you are able to comfortably do 20 repetitions of the light weight, and you feel it is starting to feel too light, then gradually make the weight slightly heavier. With every increase in weight, drop the repetitions back to 12, increasing up to 20 again. There is no need to make the weight too heavy. Continuously lifting a light weight for 3 sets of 20 repetitions will be enough for your body to feel the benefits that are listed below.
Benefits of resistance training for women over 50:
- Bone density is increased and the risk of osteoporosis is decreased
- Reduce risk of injury in every day life, as a strong muscle is a healthy muscle
- Reduce risk of heart disease, as weight training has been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure
- Feel physically stronger which could allow an older person to remain independant for longer
- Improve mental health, reduce stress and decrease symptoms of depression
- Weight training has been proved to raise the metabolism for up to 24 hours after a workout. More calories are used to burn fat over that period.
- Over a period of time, body fat will be reduced and muscle will be increased
- If combined with a healthy diet, weight loss can be achieved
Many studies have shown that women over 50 who participate in a strength training program, report a much higher feeling of wellbeing and confidence. Their general physical health and ailments, such as back pain and arthritis, improve. I know that when I am doing a weights training program in the gym, I feel much better mentally, as I go about my daily life. It doesn’t matter how much cardio I do. For me, there is nothing like a resistance program, to make me feel mentally and physically strong, and able to cope with whatever life throws at me. I have excellent health, with very few episodes of illness such as colds, flu etc, and I put that down to not only being physically fit but to being strong.
Below, is one basic weight training exercise, to get started. This is a good basic exercise to start with, as it will work your chest, shoulders and arms. To also get a benefit to your core strength, tuck in the tummy muscles, while continuing to breathe, as you do the exercise. If you don’t have dumbells at home, just use a can of soup in each hand. Start off with 2 sets of 12 repetitions, and increase, as I described earlier. You do not need to use a bench, as shown in the video below. Lying on the floor is also an effective way of doing this exercise, reducing stress to shoulder joints, which sometimes can be felt, when beginning a resistance program.
- Please note that it is really important that you consult a doctor before starting an exercise program
Do you already have a strength training program? How does it make you feel? I’d love you to join in the discussion.
I appreciate the time it takes you to comment and will reply to all.