My mother was the queen of aerobics class and the treadmill. Averaging 105 pounds all through life, she exercised for general physical and emotional health. As my journey and education in the fitness world progressed, I began to encourage my mom to incorporate strength training into her routine. Even as a certified personal trainer she would give me the all too common response, “I don’t need to lift weights. I do not want to get bulky”. It wasn’t until her routine doctor’s visit ordered a bone density test that she began to change her mind. Hearing from the doctor that her bone density had decreased and she had osteopenia was an eye opener that she had some changes to make. At age 65 my mom trusted in me to coach her in the gym. We started with basic strength training three days a week using a combination of machines and weights. After just a few months she was able to perform push ups on her toes, increased her strength and built lean muscle. Now at 71, she still goes to the gym for strength training 2-3 days a week. She may be petite, but she has strong muscles to protect her bones!
Many women have a misconception that lifting weights will make them big and bulky but that is not the case. High levels of estrogen make it difficult for women to become too muscular. Generally, the changes women see from strength training are lean feminine muscles, strength, and endurance. Here are some of the benefits:
Preserves muscle mass:
Muscle mass decreases with age but you can counteract this effect through strength training. Your body fat increases as you get older if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose. Strength training helps preserve your muscle mass and can help to keep your body fat at a healthy percentage.
A consistent strength training program can help you reduce body fat and burn calories more efficiently, which can result in healthy weight loss or maintenance.
Reduces risk of osteoporosis:
Due to hormonal changes, women naturally lose bone density as they get older, putting them at increased risk for developing osteoporosis. A routine strength training program can slow bone deterioration and can help your bones grow stronger. maintain strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Decreases injury risk:
Building lean muscle can help protect your joints from injury and increase your balance and coordination, which can prevent falls and bone injury.
Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat:
The more lean muscle you have the higher your resting metabolism. More muscle and less fat means that you’ll burn more calories during rest, when you are not actually working out.
A stronger back, shoulders, neck, and core can help with your posture, you will stand taller and more confident. Stronger core and posture can also help relieve and prevent low back pain and injury.
TYPES OF STRENGTH TRAINING
Strength training can be done anywhere, using a variety of equipment, your surroundings, or just your bodyweight. Here are a few ideas:
Using your own body weight for resistance is an excellent way to increase muscular strength. Push-ups, pull-ups, tricep dips and core exercises are common exercises that use body weight. You can even find exercise stations at many local parks.
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Dumbbells, weight bars, and barbells are standard types of free weights. You can do effective workout programs at the gym or at home with any of these.
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Many fitness centers have weight machines to train all muscles of the body. Most are easy and safe to use with basic instruction.
Resistance tubing provides an inexpensive way for home strength training. Tubing is also convenient to pack for travel and outdoor exercise.
– Nicole DeFreece