Want to enjoy a stronger body, greater self-confidence, faster weight loss, a better posture, and more energy? Strength training offers the most benefit for the least amount of time. Here’s 10 reasons every woman over 40 should be doing strength training.
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Strength training for women over 40
Fat, flabby, and tired. Stiff and achy joints. No energy.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t let your age be an excuse. Everyone can enjoy good health, lose weight, get stronger and leaner. Will it be easy? No, it won’t be easy. But you will get stronger and see progress. You can change.
There are plenty of choices for the “latest and greatest” exercise programs that promise quick results, and it can be confusing and overwhelming trying to decide where to begin. But after 30 years of strength training and helping others get started, I can tell you the most effective way to change your body is to include basic strength training exercises.
We don’t have to let ourselves go, and we don’t have to spend hours exercising to enjoy feeling fit and healthy.
Strength training offers the most benefit for the least amount of time. Strength, or resistance training, done correctly, can:
- Strengthen your muscles
- Maintain bone mass
- Strengthen the ligaments and tendons supporting your joints
- Improve your posture
- Strengthen your core – abdominal and back muscles, helping to prevent back injuries
- Prevent loss of muscle tissue – maintaining muscle tissue can increase your resting metabolic rate
- Speed weight loss (studies show a combination of strength training with other types of exercise leads to faster weight loss)
- Increase your stamina
- Improve your confidence
- Relieve depression and anxiety
Simple, basic, strength training exercises will provide you with all the benefits you need with the least risk of injury and the fastest results.
When choosing a strength training program, I recommend:
- Slow, steady movements
- Working the major muscle groups first (chest, back, shoulders, legs)
- Including specific movements for biceps, triceps, abdominals, and lower back
- Using natural range of motions for each joint (avoid hyper-extending joints)
While you can certainly benefit from combining High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with your strength training, I believe at least some of your workouts should be slow and focused only on strength training.
Benefits of Strength Training for Women of All Ages
The benefits of strength training are the same whether you are 24 or 74.
- Flexibility. Our ligaments and tendons tighten and shorten the less we use our bodies and as we age. Resistance training causes us to use all of our major joints with a full range of motion. This keeps the joints flexible and allows the joints to work efficiently.
- Strength. Again, slowing down and using our bodies less as we age, we begin to lose our strength, especially in our upper body, and especially for women. Resistance training allows us to focus on our weak areas, to work all the major muscle groups and to keep our bodies in balance.
- Increased lean tissue. Along with increases in strength, come increases in our lean muscle mass. Why is this important? I am talking about small increases in the number and size of our muscle cells. This may or may not be noticeable, especially as it occurs throughout our body, but the small increase in lean tissue increases our metabolic rate. That is our body’s ability to use up energy, to burn calories. (Very helpful for those of us who enjoy eating!)
- Increased bone mass. Research clearly shows increased bone density associated with resistance training. Working muscles exert force on the bones as they move – this causes the bone to create more density. And of course, denser bones are less likely to fracture.
- Psychological benefits. Let’s not forget the psychological benefits of exercise , which include:
- Stress relief. Endorphins released with exercise to improve our mood.
- Sense of well being and accomplishment that comes from doing something good for ourselves.
- Better sleep. Who couldn’t use a better night’s sleep?
Including some combination of push-pull movements can correct or prevent imbalances that can lead to poor posture or injuries.
For example, including exercises that open the chest combined with strengthening exercises for the muscles in the upper back can improve the slouching and excessive curvature that often occurs in older women (but starts when we are younger).
So how do we get all these benefits, and how do we do it in as little time and with as little effort as possible?
Proper training! Optimal benefits can be obtained with proper training. Keep in mind that variety is important. As our bodies adapt to the demands we place on it, we must vary the exercise stress to continue our improvement. In other words, we can’t keep doing the same things over and over and expect to keep seeing progress.
Strength Training for Women Over 40 – Three main ways to vary the exercise stress
- This is how often you exercise.
- Set a reasonable goal for yourself.
- Aim to do at least some type of exercise at least four times each week.
- Duration is how long the exercise session lasts.
- Benefits can be obtained from short frequent sessions.
- Individual goals will vary depending on your current fitness level.
- Adjustments should be made as fitness level improves.
- Intensity is how hard you are exercising.
- Intensity will vary depending on current fitness level and goals.
Let’s start with some basic moves that can be adjusted to fit your current fitness level and that can be changed as you improve. This strength training routine involves all the major joints and muscle groups.
Click on the links for explanations and illustrations provided by ACE – the American Council on Exercise. They have an excellent exercise library that allows you to choose exercises based on body parts, difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, advanced), and availability of equipment (no equipment, dumbbells, exercise bands, etc.)
Full Body Strength Training
Start with a brief warm-up, for example, jumping jacks, high stepping, or marching in place. You can download a free Full Body Workout you can do at home – CLICK HERE
Chest: Bent Knee Push Up
Back: Single-Arm Row (use a chair to support your upper body)
Shoulders: Seated Shoulder Press (with dumbbells and chair)
Legs: Stability Ball Wall Squats (with exercise/stability ball)
Glutes: Glute Bridge (with exercise/stability ball)
Triceps: Behind the Head Press/Triceps Extension (with dumbbells)
Biceps: Seated Curl (using a chair – can also be done standing)
Abdominals: Stability Ball Cruches (with stability ball)
Abdominals/Lower Back: Stability Ball Prone Walk Out (with stability ball)
Abdominals/Hips: Side Plank Modified
Strength training for women over 40 is no different than strength training for anyone. Start slow, listen to your body, and make adjustments to your routine as you go. Consistency is the key – make a plan to include strength training and stick with it. Don’t expect instant results, be sure to enjoy the process, and find healthy ways to reward yourself for making progress.
If you have any questions, I’m here for you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.