by Matthew Gagliano, Barrington, RI
Strength training isn’t just for body builders, fitness competitors, and men. Building strength is for every mom, businesswoman, and female over 30 who wants to look good, feel great, and maintain or enhance her athletic capabilities. It’s the missing link to achieving the health and fitness results you want, and it’s absolutely necessary to combat the hormone imbalances, reduced muscle tissue and strength, and weight gain that are ever so common as women age. A lot of women neglect weight training and only focus on cardiovascular work.I It’s similar to hamsters spinning in a wheel running circles over and over again. They aren’t getting anywhere, they get frustrated, and a lot are actually gaining weight. When you add strength training, your body will finally respond, and you will begin to positively affect your bones, muscles, and hormones. It’s the “secret sauce” to continuing to look fit all the way into your 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Build, Not Bulk Up, Muscle Tissue: A common misconception about weight training for women is that you are going to bulk up, look huge, and build bigger muscle than you desire. However, women simply don’t have enough testosterone to create “manly bulk” and you have to follow a specific eating and weightlifting programs to develop the type of muscles associated with bodybuilders. Instead, strength training is an integral component in slowing down the natural decline of muscle tissue in your body as you age and keeping your body’s metabolic rate at a higher level. A decline in muscle tissue creates a decrease in your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy you expend daily at rest. Once your basal metabolic rate goes down, your body fat is going to increase and the actual number of calories you can consume will go down. The less muscle tissue you have, the less nutrition you can take in without an increase in activity. Keeping your metabolic rate up through regular weight training helps keep your muscle tissue up, leading to stronger bone density and a body that is more metabolically active.
Another great thing about strength training is that regardless of what age you start with resistance workouts, you can still experience the same type of muscle tissue response at any age. Whether you’re 20 years old or 80, you can have the same percentage of increase in muscle mass from strength training. You’re never too old to get started!
Increase Bone Density to Combat Osteoporosis: Improving bone density and building strong muscle mass go hand in hand, especially for women as they age. When you go through menopause and your estrogen levels decrease, your bone density is going to drop. Since women don’t have as much muscle mass as men to start out with, bone density declines earlier in women than men as muscle size and strength decreases. Strength training is a must for women who want to increase or maintain muscle mass, as well as bone density. Genetics and nutrition play a role into osteoporosis, too. For women who are just exercising for health and not training for a specific sport, I recommend a mix of exercises that engage the entire musculature such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, overhead presses, front/side planks, and some rotational movements like chops. These exercises can all be performed with free weights, medicine balls, cables and bands at a minimum of two times per week.
Get a Handle on Your Hormones: Your hormones are the center of your body’s functionality and coordination. If you have a decline in lean tissue, an increase in body fat, and your estrogen is declining, it’s going to put your hormonal levels at a low spot. This is when you start to see visual changes in your body that you aren’t used to and you question what is going on with your body. This is when women start to get frustrated and they start to feel like they’ve lost themselves. Some people automatically think they can’t do anything about it, which is absolutely not true. Getting into the right nutrition and training program that includes flexibility, cardiovascular/metabolic, strength, and functional training is what makes the difference.
Enjoy Your New-Found Strength: Don’t be afraid to begin a strength training program to elevate your health and fitness levels, as well as complement your daily activities. Strength training doesn’t mean you’ll be body building. It means you will be more effectively and efficiently performing functionality training that uses movements to mimic your daily activities while keeping you fit and strong. The power of the after burn associated with strength training will also help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals without spending a lifetime in the gym. Become a strong woman you can be proud of by getting into a strength training program that will get you the results you deserve. Look good and feel strong while increasing your body’s overall health and wellness with a customized strength training program. The bonus: Your self-confidence INCREASES!