While aging is inevitable, aging well is not. There are many factors involved in maintaining good physical and mental health as you age, but one of the most important things to consider as you grow older is weight training.
Chris Freytag knows from experience, as a personal trainer who is over 50 years of age, she knows that exercise not only keeps you feeling and looking younger but actually physically slows down the aging process. And while exercise comes in many forms, strength training is where the true anti-aging magic happens. Strength training is one of the best types of exercises for women over 50 – it’s time to start!
Let’s explore in detail the benefits of strength training for women and some of the specific strength training exercises that Chris Freytag recommends that women over 50 do.
Seven Reasons Why Is It Important to Strength Train After 50
1. Weight Training for Women Builds Lean Muscle Mass
As we get older, our bodies inevitably go through muscle loss, if we’re not focused on a strength training workout regularly. Those who strength train see tighter, more toned bodies, rather than getting “bulky”.
Being stronger means you are able to stay independent and strong for life’s daily activities such as carrying groceries, lifting grandchildren, or engaging in fun activities like golf or other sports.
Around the age of 30, we start to lose our muscle mass if not doing anything to actively replace it. As many women age, they become more sedentary, and hence, their muscles start to deteriorate. That’s why you need to start doing strength work. Building lean muscle is not only healthy, but it also looks great.
2. Weight Training for Women Builds Bone Density
Muscle loss can have further consequences on bone health. Unexpected falls put countless older people in the hospital every year. In fact, according to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older Americans.
By strength-training the muscle and connective tissue that surrounds your bones, you are making yourself stronger and helping to prevent a fall from happening in the first place. Bone density is a big deal and strength training is the best way to preserve it.
3. Weight Training for Women Decreases Body Fat
Maintaining a healthy weight is important when it comes to preventing many diseases that come with aging. By strength training, you are able to decrease the amount of body fat, both internally and externally. A healthy amount of fat is both good and necessary. Too much, however, is not. Strength training exercises can help with this.
4. Weight Training Speeds Up Metabolism
Strength training and lifting weights lead to more muscle mass, which then leads to a higher metabolism. Muscle uses more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat.
When you have more muscle mass in your body, you burn more calories every day. This is why you want to get started asap!
5. Weight Training Improves Mental Health
Strength training is not just about more muscle mass. As you get older, you may go through a lot of life changes making it normal to feel sad, stressed, or uneasy about these changes. Adopting a strength training program has been shown to improve your confidence and boost your mental health. Harvard Medical School reports that exercise helps lessen the incidence and the degree of clinical depression.
6. Weight Training for Women Improves Balance, Coordination, and Mobility
As you age, you tend to lose the overall muscle strength that allows you to balance. By lifting weights, you are not only building up muscle strength and protecting bone health, but you are also forcing your body to function in an unbalanced state, thus improving overall balance and coordination.
7. Weight Training for Women Reduces the Risk of Many Diseases
According to Tufts University, strength training exercises will reduce the risks and symptoms of several health problems too including arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, and depression.
3 Best Strength Training Exercises for Women Over 50
Here are 3 exercises for women over 50 that will work for every muscle group and give you a good total body workout. Several use your body weight and a few require a set of dumbbells. Choose a weight that allows you to complete 12 repetitions of each exercise. If the exercise feels too easy, go a little heavier.
Perform each exercise shown below anywhere between 12 and 15 repetitions.
Repeat the entire circuit of the 3-strength training moves a total of 2 times through the circuit. Between each circuit take a 1-minute break to grab your breath and start back from the top.
1. Basic Squats for Strength Training
Here’s how to perform a basic squat:
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width distance apart. Hips, knees, and toes all pointing forward.
- Bend your knees and sit your butt back as if you are going to sit in a chair. Primarily keeping your weight equally in both heels, allowing you to keep your knees behind your toes.
- Hit the bottom of your squat, pause, and then rise back up to stand and repeat the full exercise.
- Muscles Targeted: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Core
2. Modified Push Up for Strength Training
Here’s how to perform a modified push-up:
- Begin in a kneeling position with your hands below your shoulders and knees back behind your hips.
- Keep your gaze in front of your fingertips so your neck stays long, squeeze your glutes and inner thighs together, keeping the lower body active.
- Slowly lower yourself to the ground, keeping your elbows back at about a 45-degree angle.
- Press yourself back up to the starting position
- Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions
- Advancement to this Exercise: Once you have mastered the modified push-up try a full push-up from your toes. Begin in a high plank position, hands stacked underneath the shoulders, legs long behind you. Lower your chest to the floor, with your elbows pointing slightly back, until you are just above the ground. As you exhale, tighten your belly and push yourself back up to a plank position.
3. Reverse Grip Double Arm Row for Strength Training
Here’s how to perform a reverse grip double arm row:
- Start this exercise with your legs together and sit back into a small squat; engaging the glutes and abdominal wall. Arms will be stretched out in front of the body holding the weights with the palms facing the ceiling.
- Drawing your elbows back by squeezing your upper back muscles together, pull the elbows gently past the hips so you feel the lats and triceps engage and return to the starting position with control.
- Options: Start with a lighter set of weights and focus on slow-controlled movements. Take a 3-second pause at the top of the range of motion and slowly return to the starting position. Once you’ve mastered lighter weights with a slow and controlled pace, grab a set of heavier weights and try completing a few more repetitions.
- Muscle Groups Targeted: Upper Body, Triceps, Back, and Shoulders
The Final Word
The CDC has set the guideline that everyone should perform strength training activities at least two days a week. This goes for anyone in their 30s and all the way up into your 50s, 60s, and even 70s! Strength training is perfectly safe for women over 50, but there are a few tips you should know before getting started:
Consult your doctor before dramatically changing your exercise regimen or if you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries.
The good news is that we can beat the odds by continuing to weight train, helping to build and maintain muscles throughout life! So, what are you waiting for, grab a pair of weights and get started with your weight training journey today!