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My tricep muscles were at risk of looking like a turkey’s neck until I started to lift weights in my midlife.
A few years back I was in the supermarket reaching for something on a high shelf when the unimaginable happened.
I caught myself holding my under-arm so that it didn’t wobble.
Those things under my arms had a mind of their own and could knock cans flying off the shelf causing permanent injury to some poor passer-by. I’m fairly immune to scenes in the supermarket (I’ve had two children) but injuring others due to saggy arm flaps would have been too much to bear.
I decided it was time I did something about the offending muscles. I really had no muscle mass to speak of.
I purchased two 3kg weights and planned a 20-minute weight training workout that suited me.
Fast forward several years and I now use two 5kg weights and have accumulated a generous amount of knowledge on the advantages of weight lifting for women in midlife.
It is all good!
The Health Benefits Of Using Weights In Midlife
Weight training regularly will:
- Burn more fat. As muscle needs energy the more muscle mass you have the more fat you will burn. It’s a win win, as you muscle builds you will looked toned and fit and you will burn fat easily.
- Tone and slim avoiding the dreaded middle-aged spread. It only takes a loss of 3% of your body fat to lose 3 inches off your middle and thighs. That’s not much, get started now.
- Speed up your metabolism. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be. Then you will be burning calories in your sleep. This needs a high five for sure.
It is well documented that to build and maintain bone mass women need to do weight-bearing exercises. These exercises don’t have to be with weights they can also include various exercises like push-ups. Yoga can include weight-bearing poses so if weights aren’t your thing you could try a yoga routine that includes weight-bearing poses.
Other Maybe Not So Obvious Benefits Of Building Strength
Strength training will improve your everyday fitness, which generally makes life a little easier when, for instance, you have to lift your suitcase off the carousel at the airport after you awesome overseas trip.
Strength training exercises will strengthen ligaments and tendons giving joints more stability and strength. This can help to maintain mobility as we get older.
Particular types of resistance training exercises can improve your core strength facilitating better posture and improving balance.
According to one study, less than an hour of weekly strength training (compared with no resistance exercise) can mean a 29% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which increases risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The more lean muscle mass you have, the more efficient your body is at removing glucose from the blood a primary concern for women with diabetes.
Postmenopausal women such as myself are at risk of osteoporosis. Resistance with weights will help to combat that loss of bone mass and increase muscle.
Using Your Body Weight Works Just As Well
The advantages of lifting weights in midlife are great, from shedding fat to shaping up and improving the chances of longevity.
However it is possible to get the same benefit from body weight exercises. Three of the best exercises you can do with your own body weight are:
Engage your tummy muscles and raise your body up off the floor, keeping your forearms on the floor and your body in a straight line from head to feet.
Keep your core engaged and try not to let your hips or head start to droop.
Hold for 30 seconds or longer.
When you find the length of time easy add another 10 or 20 seconds. Keep doing that until you can hold for 2 or 3 minutes, or longer if you prefer.
Start in a straight arm plank positions As you can see here feet are hips width distance apart.
Keeping your core engaged lower your body until arms are at a 90 degree angle. Then back up again.
Try not to dip in the middle or lower and lift with your body as straight as you can.
Start with as many as you can do and add one or two more each week until you reach your limit.
The resistance band is not necessary but will add a further difficulty if you want to push yourself.
A squat can be as deep or shallow as you want depending on your ability and your knee flexibility.
If you struggle with your knees you can make it easier by lifting yourself off a chair. As in the video below this photo.
It is important to have BOTH improved muscle mass and strength from resistance exercise and the benefits of stamina and heart health from aerobic exercise.
The good news is that walking is a great aerobic exercise. You can change the intensity of your walk by walking up hills or by walking a little faster
I walk 3 kilometres every day in the morning up hills and down and with the help of my watch make sure I at least hit 12,000 steps each day. Immediately after my morning walk I either do 20 minutes of weight work or yoga. It was this video that helped me build a weight routine that I liked.
This is a routine that works for me. I would love to hear about your routine or that you are inspired to start one. Comment below and let me know.