Strength Training for Women Over 50
WHAT IS STRENGTH TRAINING?
Strength training is a type of resistance training that involves lifting weights in order to build muscle strength and size.
WHY IS STRENGTH TRAINING IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN OVER 50?
Well, strength training is important for everyone, helping to keep our bodies functioning effectively, maintaining fitness, and reducing the risk of injuries.
However, as we get older, bones get weaker. This is especially true for women going through menopause - it’s estimated that on average women lose up to 10% of their bone mass around this time, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis and potential for fractures. Strength training causes the muscles and tendons to pull and push on the bones, which leads to bone cells becoming stronger and denser. This can help to prevent, and even reverse, bone loss!
It's not just the bones that get weaker too. As we age, we lose muscle mass, leading to a slower metabolism. This means we naturally put on weight quicker, and find it harder to lose. Strength training helps to build muscle and prevent this from happening. Plus, strength training can burn fat and calories, particularly if you’re doing full body workouts with compound exercises like squats.
Another benefit of adding strength training (and any exercise) into your routine is that it increases dopamine and serotonin, the happy hormones. This can help to manage menopausal mood swings that are caused by fluctuating hormones.
6 STRENGTH TRAINING TIPS FOR WOMEN OVER 50
If you’re a complete beginner to strength training, or it’s been years since you last did it, start with bodyweight exercises like squats or planks. This can help you to build up initial strength in your muscles and joints, and work on getting the form right.
You can also start off using resistance bands rather than weights to start with to build up strength and get used to the movements. As the name suggests, these offer a great way to add resistance to your workout, helping to build more strength in a controlled way, without the need for lots of heavy or expensive equipment.
I would recommend strength training 3-4 days per week, doing around 30-60 mins each session, depending on how advanced you are. Rest days are extremely important for allowing your muscles to recover, so don’t overdo it.
Don’t forget to work the core muscles. The core plays a huge part in balance, stability, and posture! Try to do at least 5-10 mins of ab exercises per week.
Once you’re ready to move on to working with weights, start with fixed resistance machines. They are great for beginners as they have a fixed movement pattern, which means you can build up strength and learn the right form with minimal risk of injury. As you become more comfortable with them move on to free weight exercises.
Use slow and controlled reps to get the most out of the movements, avoid using momentum. Focus on the muscles you’re working with each exercise, and don’t forget to breathe.