We all know that a healthy, fit body is essential as we get older. Not a perfect body, or a body that always maintains an ideal weight. Most of us won’t be able to say we have achieved either of those aspirations.
But it is possible for most of us to have a healthy, fit body if we are willing to work for it. That’s why strength training after 50 is non-negotiable, my friends.
Aerobic workouts are essential, too, and I love my walking workouts! But it’s only half of the equation. We have to combine the aerobic with strength training to truly keep our bodies strong, healthy, age in a healthy way, and able to keep working for us as the years go by.
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Our Slowing Metabolism & Fruit…What?
First, a quick overview of why we’re even talking about the absolute necessity for strength training after 50.
As we age, our metabolism slows down and in general, fat increases while muscle mass, or lean tissue, as well as bone density, decreases. Some researchers say that we lose one percent of our muscle mass, per year, after the age of 30. Do a quick calculation based on your current age and the result can be startling.
Plus, in women, a drop in estrogen levels with menopause coincides with a shift of fat from the lower portion of the body (a “pear” shape), toward the midsection (an “apple” shape). So the belly fat that we are blessed with (not) makes us look more like apples.
Since muscle burns more calories than fat, if you have less muscle on your body it has implications for your overall weight and health, as well as a loss of overall strength.
Strength Training After 50
Bottom line for women over 50? We need to include strength training in our exercise routines! Even if we are limited in what we’re able to do physically, there is almost always something that will work to help maintain muscle strength.
Of course, please consult with your physician to make sure that you are able to safely perform any type of exercise routine, including working out with weights.
I started working out with weights over 20 years ago when I married my soul mate, Randy. He was into total physical fitness, and I learned from him that I wasn’t pushing myself nearly enough when working out.
He taught me how to push myself harder, that it was okay to sweat, and that there was so much more to a workout than hopping on the treadmill.
The love of my life is gone now, it’s been four years since he passed away. But I always remember how he looked at me and said “that’s not a workout, you’re not even breaking a sweat!” And he was right.
Now, almost 25 years later, I have modified what I do and how I do it when it comes to strength training. But I incorporate this mindset into my workouts and don’t mind sweating. 🙂
3 Non-Negotiables of Strength Training After 50
In general, aim for two to three workouts a week, on non-consecutive days, one set of each exercise you are doing to start and work up to two to three sets when time allows.
These workout suggestions are from fitness expert Linda Melone, a woman in midlife who lives what she teaches. Visit the link above for more details.
1 | Proper Resistance
Work out with a weight that makes you really work out. The goal is to work the muscle to a point where it has a reason to change. You do this by challenging it beyond it’s normal everyday exertion.
What that means is, if you are using a weight that is too light, you’ll never really build up your muscle strength.
How do you know if it is the correct weight for you? If you are on repetition 12 out of 15 and you’re working hard to complete the set, you’ve probably got the right amount of weight in your hand.
2 | Total body workout:
Don’t just workout your ‘favorite’ muscles and ignore the rest. Be sure to include exercises for legs, glutes, core, chest, back, biceps, triceps and shoulders. Ignoring any muscle group sets you up for imbalances and possible injury.
I find that the best way to ensure a total and safe workout is to follow along with an expert, at least until I have the routine down and know it by heart.
Here is one example of a workout specifically for women over 50:
This particular strength training routine is a keeper for me; it really tests my core as I progress through the workout. Planks are such a challenge for me and I can’t hold them for very long, but I keep trying. 🙂
There is a link below each exercise that will take you to a page with step by step instructions plus a video, which is very helpful to make sure your form is correct.
3 | Engage your core in every exercise
It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you’re doing; engage your core first.
This does not mean ‘sucking in’ your stomach. Think of it this way: try to draw your belly button in towards your spine without holding your breath.
Keeping these muscles engaged not only works your core throughout your workout, but it also protects your spine.
For me, any type of workout is more effective and enjoyable if I am totally comfortable and wearing the appropriate gear:
- Comfortable workout clothes that look good, too!
- A great pair of comfy walking shoes
- The best-best-best socks for workouts or any time, a must for me. I can’t be fiddlin’ with the socks while I’m working out or on a brisk walk
These essential tips for a workout that benefits your entire body are not difficult to comprehend, but they do require commitment and determination to follow through on.
But you know what? You only have one body, and let’s face it, girls, it’s getting older every day. So let’s take care of what we have, give it our best effort, and it will pay off!
What I learned about strength training for women in midlife is that I need to focus on all of my muscle groups, not just a few.
While I am diligent about my workout routine, I need to be smarter and spend time now that will benefit me going forward.
How about you, my friend? Are you willing to make a commitment to keeping your body strong as you age? Tell us about it in the comments!
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