Strength Training For Women
So, you want to get strong, and you have no idea how to start. I got you. Well, let’s be honest. You know you SHOULD be strength training regularly. Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance. It must be really intimidating to think strength training as a beginner. But don’t worry, I got you covered. First thing first, as a beginner, what are the exercises you should do to make your workout more effective?
- You can start with just your body weight.
Put simply, strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. For a beginner, body weight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train.
- Begin with twice a week and gradually build up your endurance from there. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Aim to complete 30-minute sessions, then gradually increase the sessions to 45 and then to 60 minutes.
- Prepare your muscles before you start your routine.
A proper warm-up is an important part of an effective strength workout. A dynamic warm-up is important for your pre-workout routine, it preps your muscles for the work they’re about to do and helps increase your range of motion.
- Pair an upper-body exercise with a lower-body exercise.
The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise so as to allow the upper body to recover while the lower body works and vice-versa. These are suggestions of exercises that you should do together:
Squats + push-ups
Walking lunges + lat pulldowns
Romanian deadlifts + overhead press
Mountain climber + bench rows
- Aim for 10 reps and three sets per exercise. When you’re just getting started try to keep things simple. Performing 10reps and three sets of each is a good place to start.
- When you’re using weights, here’s how much weight you should start lifting. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you screw up your form. Remember, forms and techniques are important if you want to achieve results.
- Stick to the same moves each day when you’re starting out. Stick to the same basic moves two to three times a week to build a basic level of fitness and strength. You do not want to complicate things.
- Fit in a post-workout stretch. Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility. Stretching is also great for calming the nervous system. The cool-down is static stretching whereby you hold a stretch for 30 seconds.
- Refuel with water. After a tough sweat, it’s important to re hydrate your body. Drink lots of water.
- Take rest days when your body tells you to. Your muscles might feel achy the day after a training session. It’s called delayed onset muscle soreness. When you strength train you’re causing microscopic damage to the tissue that will be repaired, that’s how you build stronger lean muscle.
BUT if you need a rest, listen to your body.
Many women still think that lifting weights is just for bodybuilders.
That’s unfortunate. A woman who doesn’t do strength-training exercises loses her muscles and over time, the body become weaker.
So, Why Do Strength-Training Exercises? Regular resistance exercise has many benefits.
- Increased muscle fiber size and strength.
Resistance training causes microscopic tears to muscles, hence as you rest between exercise sessions, the muscles repair themselves, growing back slightly stronger than before.
Genetic factors and hormones are largely responsible for muscular responses to resistance training. This is especially true for most women, who typically are smaller in size, have less muscle tissue and produce lower testosterone levels than men. So, don’t worry, not many women can bulk up easily!
- Increased in bone mineral density, which may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Increase in resting metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories even WHEN YOU ARE RESTING!
- Improved body composition. Put it simply, you loses body fat and look less flabby.
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Lifting weights helps to prevent you from gaining intra-abdominal fat, the kind that constricts blood vessels.
- Getting Started
Before you begin lifting weights, talk to your doctor especially if you have a health condition that could make exercising difficult, painful or unsafe.
Also, keep these tips in mind:
– If you’ve never done strength-training exercises before, schedule at least five sessions with a qualified personal trainer. Don’t get yourself injured! It’s big trouble!
– Do not work on the same body part two days in a row. Your muscles need time to recover in between workouts, and training too frequently can reduce the benefits of strength training while increasing the risk of a strain, other injuries, or worse!
Unfortunately, many people still believe in that “no pain, no gain” slogan BUT it is a propaganda! Always remember that severe, sharp or lasting pain indicates that something is wrong.
Beginner’s Weight-Lifting Programs for Women Over 40
Having strong muscles is part of looking and feeling your best at any age, but after the age of 40 your muscles decrease even more than when you were 30.
It is beneficial for women over 40 to adopt to a basic weight-training program, mixed with cardiovascular exercise to retain strength and increase bone density and metabolism. Strength training helps to lower the risk of health conditions that sometimes develop after menopause, such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
For most women, after 30 seems to be the most stressful time.
Your body begins to undergo the changes of pre menopause, (yes, I’ve heard of women who had their menopause at 35) including risk of muscle fiber shrinkage, higher blood pressure, loss of bone density and undesirable weight gain.
By incorporating weight training into your health routine, it helps to reduce body fat, tone muscles and strengthen bones while also combating low energy, mood swings and insomnia. Some age-related changes are very much inevitable, but by staying active, it puts everything in a more tolerable situation.
When getting started with a weight-training routine for the first time, the biggest challenge is to remain consistent.
Always begin with a 10-minute warm-up of light cardio such as walking, and stretch your muscles after your workout, holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
As a beginner, exercise machines will be much easier to use than free weights if you have no experience with weight training, because most machines have a built-in range of motion.
Of course, free weights are more effective at producing overall muscular strength but that will come in gradually as you progress! Free weights require much coordination and support because they require you to use your stabilizing muscles. Hence, try to use free weights only when you’ve pretty much strength your core muscles!
Feeling some muscle fatigue when doing the prescribed number of repetitions is normal, but if you feel any pain, stop the exercise immediately, and consult your doctor if it persists. It is important for beginners not to do to failure, as it could inadvertently cause joint compression or shortness of breaths, resulting in dizziness, nausea or injuries.
So next come the big question.
What Is the Best Workout For Women Over 40?
BUT my question is – what do you want to achieve out of exercising?
Well, if you are in your 40s, weight lifting is the way to do it. While cardio training may help you burn fat, weight lifting will help you reshape your physique, adding curves and muscle in all the right places.
So, look your best in your forties!
So, there you go!
Full Body Workout For Women Over 40:
- Squats – 3 sets of 10reps
- Chest Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Chest Fly – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Bent Over Rows – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Leg Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Lunges – 3 sets of 10 reps (per leg)
- Super-set your Bicep Curls with Triceps Extensions – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Super-set your Lateral Raises with Front Raises – 3 sets of 10 reps
You should focus on lifting a weight which you can manage for 10 reps without losing proper form.
Finally, a good 30-60 seconds in between sets is almost perfect for your muscles to recover from the previous set and you’re good to go the next round.
And now, the big 50.
Strength-Training for Women Over 50.
So, you want to be strong, healthy, and happy, and perhaps feel and look 10 years younger? Then it’s time to pick up the weights!
And BOOM! Fitness changes constantly.
BUT here’s the good news!
There is a correlation between your health and the amount of muscle mass you have. The more muscles you build, the higher your metabolism, the stronger your muscles, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off. So, having stronger muscles is extremely important.
It’s time to reverse this loss of muscle! If you are currently doing weight training, kudos! Give yourself a thumbs-up!
If you haven’t, oops! It’s not too late to start today and join the rest on the road to a better metabolism, stronger muscles and overall better lifestyle! Also, it’s never too late to start or physically reinvent yourself.
I’m going to share with you my experiences as a Personal trainer and my perceptions on strength training based on the mistakes I see most often among majority of the women in the gym.
- Use the Right Weight
Let me just be honest, if you’re looking at toning your muscle, you will need to build muscle. And don’t worry though, you’re not going to look like a WWE wrestler or “she-hulk”. No wrestler ever got massive arms from curling 5kg dumbbells, and that I can assure you. (Well, unless you’re genetically blessed to gain muscles easily!)
So, pick a weight that enables you to do 12 to 15 repetitions, where the last three feels almost impossible to lift. If you can jump right into another set with ease, then It’s not heavy enough.
- Work Every Muscle
As much as we would all love to have flat abs, the hard truth is doing crunches or sit-ups without watching your diet and without exercising every other muscle won’t do the job. You need a total body workout! Yes, face the fact!
- Full Range of Motion is KEY
Learn the proper way to do an exercise correctly and be sure to use a full range of motion. Well of course, exercises can be modified if you had an injury or other issues. It called Regression of exercise.
- Utilize Your Core in Every Exercise
All movements start from the core. Your core includes everything that connects your upper body to your lower body.
An effective way to focus on the core is by trying to draw your bellybutton in towards your spine, but without holding your breath in the process.
Keeping these muscles engaged not only works your core, but it also protects your spine from injuries during exercise.
So, what should a beginner’s exercise program for a 50 be like…
Try these basic movements to get the body started. You do not want to injure your body at this age. Trust me.
- Squat to bicep curl
The best way to maintain and improve bone density is through exercises that involve your entire lower body. This exercise is considered a weight-bearing, compound, complex exercise, which specifically targets and strengthens the muscles and bones of the pelvis.
- Reverse Lunge to shoulder Press
This exercise strengthens muscles in your entire lower body and helps in daily activities such as walking, stair climbing, and the transition from sitting to standing.
- Standing Calf Raise
This exercise improves the stability and mobility of your feet and lower legs, also your proprioceptive skills and gives you control and power over your body.
- Bent Over Row
Due to gravity, it gets tough to keep our body upright with good alignment throughout the day. This exercise strengthens all of the muscles in your back and also improves bone density of the spine. It is a good exercise to help keep your posture upright.
- Bird Dog
This exercise is one of the strengthening exercises that most physical therapists use for back injuries. It strengthens the muscles that are involve in every movement you make, including your core, glutes, back, and shoulder muscles all at once, while helping to open the hip flexors and shoulders.
- Dumbbell Pullover
This exercise improves your ability to pull heavy objects more safely. Put simply, having stronger chest muscles is equally important.
- Hammer Curl
These muscles are smaller, hence due to atrophication of muscles, your arms can become weaker. It’s important to keep your biceps muscles strong so that you can carry objects safely and easily. It will also make your arms look great. So, it’s a WIN WIN!
- Forearm Plank
This is a core body exercise that strengthens all the muscles of the core, gives you a stronger lower back, and teaches your body stabilisation.
This is a BONUS!
Many of you might not have heard of the transversus abdominus muscle. But it is the real muscle that gives you a flat belly! It is also an extremely important muscle for a stronger back and tummy.
- Hamstrings Bridge
A very low impact exercise and is recommended for women who suffer from arthritis or knee joint problems.
This exercise helps to strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, core and lower back.
So, while aging is inevitable, aging well is not.
One of the most important things to consider as you grow older is exercise. Exercise keeps you feeling and looking younger, and it also physically slows down the aging process!
So, are you ready for the transition?