So now that you understand the significance of certain hormones, it’s also important to realize that you are not doomed! Having that knowledge does better equip you on how to battle through the process more effectively so you can see the results you’ve been after for so long (ie, changing your eating habits and reducing stress). Strength training or resistance training is also one of those ways.
This is where metabolism also becomes just as important. Your metabolism is essentially the rate at which your body burns calories at rest. This basically means the amount of calories you’d have to consume (energy in) each day to maintain where you are right now. This of course would increase based on your activity level. More energy out=more energy required to go in. In simpler terms, it’s how your body uses what you eat for energy.
As we get older, muscle atrophy (loss) is pretty inevitable, which in turn not only causes that dreaded sagging skin, but muscle atrophy is also responsible for a drastic decline in metabolism. The reason why? Muscle fuels metabolism. If muscle fuels metabolism, it stands to reason that the less muscle we have, the slower our metabolism will be. It would also stand to reason that one way to improve metabolism would be to build lean muscle.
Consider this: compare a bowl of jello to a baseball. Each weighing a little over five ounces. Think of the jello as jiggly, wiggly and disperses easily…and the baseball? You get the idea? Which would you prefer on your own body? Along with, muscle at rest burns more calories than fat does while at work. This my friend, is why the scales do not matter!
As we age, adding weights and resistance training to our workout program becomes even more necessary. Resistance training is any resistance we use to work against our body–working those muscles to tear them down, only to build them stronger and leaner.
There are three essentials for weight training for women over 40.
1. Start Slow
Seriously. Don’t try to rush it and focus on form first. I like to start with bodyweight exercises first (yes, that’s still considered resistance training-you own body is your resistance) then progress to adding weights. Using your bodyweight only also gives you time to perfect your form first and make sure you’re doing each exercise correctly.
How do I know how much weight I should use?
If you are a beginner, you may find that using water bottles, soup cans or 1/2 gallon milk jugs may be sufficient for you. This could also be equivalent to using a set of 3-pound dumbbells.
When you are doing each exercise, you want to have some difficulty reaching your last repetition but still maintaining the correct form. If on your last rep, you’re wavering on your form and posture, your weights may be too heavy. If you are still having an easy time on the last rep and feel you could do lots more, then your weights may not be heavy enough.
2. Warm Up Before and Stretch After
Before beginning any workout, warming up your joints and muscles with a dynamic warmup is essential in lessening your risk of injury. A dynamic warm up is not just simple stretching.
Your warm up should be movement. Literally, taking each joint through a complete range of motion, several times. And for my dynamic warm up? I go back to how I first started a few years ago: I start at the top and work my way to the bottom.
Dynamic moves may include jumping jacks, arm circles, windmills, leg swings (front to back, side to side), hip circles and so on.
Save your stretching and lengthening those tight muscles for after your workout.
Ahhh, rest. Rest is important at any age, but it’s absolutely necessary for us older gals. Probably the number one way to improve, whether it be running, cardio or weight training, is to rest. Weight training is a continuous cycle of stress and recovery, stress and recovery.
During training, you sustain micro-tears in your muscles. With proper rest days, the body repairs itself and gets stronger during the recovery phase. Thus, it can withstand higher levels of physical stress, therefore sustaining growth and increased strength.
As we age, muscle fibers also decrease in number and shrink in size resulting in slower muscle growth and recovery after a workout….making rest days even more necessary.
Do I still workout if I’m sore?
If you’re new to exercising then you are naturally going to experience muscle soreness. Even if you’ve been exercising for some time, changing up your routine or increasing the intensity will also leave your muscles screaming mad at you.
There are two types of soreness — the soreness you’ll feel the same day or even the next day after exercising and also a delayed soreness called DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. While both are normal, your muscles still need time to recuperate and repair.
With any muscle soreness, our tendency is to not move. This may also not be the best thing to do and could only prolong the duration of your sore muscles. So forgo your weight training for the day and instead do some light cardio or walking. I also take a Magnesium supplement and Omega 3 fish oil to help with soreness and recovery.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out the other posts in the Weight Loss for Women Over 40 Series:
- How to Go From Fat Storing to Fat Burning
- How to Break Your Sugar Habit
- How to Manage Your Stress to Manage Your Weight
- 6 Ways to Lower Your Cortisol Level
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