Many people believe that exercise and physical activity should reduce with aging. That cannot possibly be farther from the truth. Strength training is crucial irrespective of age, but even more so in aging women over 50.
While some don’t exercise at all, some think the cardiovascular exercises they do is enough. Again, that is false. As an aging woman, you need more than just cardiovascular exercises to stay fit.
It is impossible to completely eliminate the loss of muscle mass in the body as you age; that’s just biology. But what you can do is to significantly retard the rate at which the body loses muscle. And the way to go is strength training.
Before you ask, strength training doesn’t mean you’ll look like a boxer or wrestler; you can maintain your perfect shape and still be healthy. You just need the right exercises, some of which this article will provide.
Advantages of Strength Training for Women Over 50 Years Old
Although it’s easier to maintain your muscles in top shape when you’re young, things change when you’re 50. Once you reach that age, you start losing muscle every year. The good news is that you can rebuild that muscle if you consider strength training women over 50. Other than improving the strength of your muscles, some exercises also have the potential to improve bone health, among other benefits.
A woman’s body also suffers some physical changes when she reaches the age of 50. For example, menopause is something that a woman will have to deal with. Due to menopause, many women gain weight, and that fat is most commonly accumulated as abdominal fat. If you make sure to exercise even when you’re going through menopause, you can combat this type of weight gain and ensure you stay in shape.
Besides, it will make sure that conditions associated with being overweight are not taking over your life. These conditions include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer.
Training strength after 50 will stop the loss of your precious muscles.
Your metabolism can also be improved through exercise. Strength training can help speed up your metabolism, and as a result, more calories will be used by your muscles at a resting heart rate rather than going into your body fat. This is why strength training and lifting weights also need to be added to your schedule.
What’s also great is that strength training can improve your mental health as well. Depression is something that nobody wants to experience. But sadly, the risk of depression becomes higher once someone ages. Strength training can help in this regard, as well. It can help decrease depression incidence. Furthermore, it will help build self-confidence, something that many people lose as they get older.
How Much Should You Exercise?
For strength training for women over 50, you can exercise just as much as other adults do. Therefore, you don’t really have to worry – you’ll have the same experience as younger adults. Just remember to take it up gradually depending on your level of fitness.
You should have either 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, or 150 minutes of moderate activity on a weekly basis. This gives you either 15 minutes of vigorous exercise five days a week or 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Exercising for five days only will also give you some time to rest during the weekend – a time during which you let your muscles recover and allow them to grow.
You should also try some aerobic exercises at least 10 minutes at a time and consider doing strengthening exercises a minimum of two times every week.
Strength Training Exercises for Women Over 50
If you want to exercise core muscles, then it’s important to know what strength training exercises are the best for you. Some exercises can simply be done using your body weight, while others may require the use of dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or simply rubber bands. You should just make sure you incorporate multiple strength training exercises from this list into your routine, so you can strengthen your muscles just the way your body needs.
On top of that, you must ensure that the weight you choose lets you complete 12 repetitions of every exercise. If you pick something too heavy, you might not be able to perform the exercises properly. So, go for lighter dumbbells, and if it’s too easy, then you can upgrade.
1. Modified Push-Up
For this exercise, you have to start by getting into a kneeling position on your mat, keeping the hands below your shoulders, and the knees behind your hips, which helps the backstay angled and long.
Then, tuck your toes under and tighten your abdomen, after which you should bend your elbows to lower the chest towards your floor. You should look towards your fingertips, as it will help your neck stay long. Afterward, press your chest back up so you get back to the position you started the exercise in.
Just go as deep as you can to complete the 12 reps. You don’t have to touch the floor for the first time you start doing push-ups. Don’t let perfection get in your way!
Modify the push-up to suit your level of fitness and grow from there.
2. Basic Squats
Basic squats are performed by standing tall while keeping your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Your toes, knees, and hips should all be pointing forward.
The movement starts from the hips. Flex them by sending your butt backward, and start bending your knees while keeping your chest up. Imagine you are going to sit on an imaginary chair but keep the core engaged all the time.
What should happen next is that you’ll hit the bottom of your squat. This is, go as deep as the flexibility of your body lets you. A good hint is: good as deep as you can keep your chest up. If going lower means bending your torso down, then go that deep. Then take a 1-sec pause, and then rise back up so you can stand. That’s one rep.
Use the arms for balance in a squat, and go as deep as you can without losing proper form.
3. Forearm Plank
The forearm plank is a pretty common exercise for strength training. It starts with you lying on the floor – so, get on the floor while having your forearms lying flat on the floor. Ensure that both your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders. You can use a mat to put your elbows on and avoid unnecessary discomfort and pain.
Then, you should raise your body off your floor, which will engage your core as well. Maintain that position with your forearms and keep your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. The abdomen should be engaged too, and your hips should not drop or be raised. Hold this position for 30 seconds instead of 8 to 12 reps. Put your knees down on the ground if the exercise becomes too difficult.
In planks, make sure to keep shoulders above elbows and your core engaged all the time.
4. Shoulder Overhead Press
You’ll need dumbbells for this exercise. Start by getting your feet hip-distance apart, and then bring the elbows out to the side. This will help create a goal position with the arms, while the dumbbells will be at the side of your head. At the same time, the abdomen will be tight.
Afterward, slowly press your dumbbells until your arms become straight, and then slowly go back to the starting position.
If necessary, you can stay on a chair while doing this exercise.
Make sure to keep your core engaged all the time to avoid lumbar hyperextension (lower back over-rounding).
Lifting weight above your head works great for your heart as well.
5. Dumbbell Deadlifts
Get your feet hip-width distance apart, and then have your dumbbells facing towards the front of your tights. Make sure your abdomen is tight, and that your back is flat while you are trying to softly hinge the hips. Keep your knees straight until the dumbbells go just below the knee caps. That’s the cue to start bending the knees.
Keep going down (bending your knees) until the dumbbells reach the middle of the shins. Then reverse the movement up. This is, push the floor with your feet, while keeping the hips bent, to extend your knees and lift the dumbbells. Once the dumbbells are above the knee caps, start extending your hips.
Then do a squeeze of the glutes when you reach the upright position. That’s one rep.
Remember to keep your core engaged and the back flat during the whole movement.
The deadlift is a great full-body exercise when performed correctly. Make sure to keep a proper form all the time.
6. Single-Leg Hamstring Bridge
To do this, you should use a mat and then lie on your back on it. At the same time, keep your knees hip-distance apart, and lie flat. The next step is squeezing your glutes and lifting your hips off your mat so you get into a bridge position. Lift and lower your hips for 8-12 reps, and then do the same on the other side, with the other leg.
Repeat these exercises three times, and you can tick your full body strength workout.
Strong hamstrings mean a healthy back body. Do the bridge to strengthen them without equipment.
Tips for Strength Training for Women Over 50
We know it can be difficult. We know you are busy. We also know you just don’t want to. However, whatever your answer to the question ‘why aren’t you training strength?’, there are a few tips that can make these exercises easy for you.
1. Set a routine and stick to it
This is the first area where people get it wrong. Before you even start strength training, you need a routine of the exercises you plan on doing. Don’t just ‘freestyle.’ Setting a routine and including it in your daily plan makes it easier to exercise every day. So, set one, and more importantly, stick to it.
2. Get all you need beforehand
There are many types of strength training exercises. We listed a few in this article. Some exercises require other tools, like dumbbells and yoga mats. For such exercises, you should ensure you get them before you even start exercising at all. Many people put off a whole session simply because they don’t have the right tools. That may not seem as much; it’s just one day, right? But there is always the danger of this happening frequently. Before you know it, the person drops the exercise routine altogether. There are links to where you can get these products online.
3. Be committed and disciplined
Commitment and discipline are crucial when strength training. Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t looking too promising at first; it takes time. Just make sure you stick to the schedule and keep putting in work. Before long, you’ll see changes. Positive changes.
4. Don’t be afraid to try something new
There are many strength training exercises you can do. We obviously cannot list them all here. But if you get bored with some exercises, you can and should switch up. If you don’t want to start practicing new exercises, you can consider the variations for some of the old ones you are practicing.
5. Stay within your limit
This is where we have to beg. Please, stay within your limits. Don’t compare your body to that of a 25-year-old. At this stage of your life, you need to take extra care with the physical activities you perform. If you know the exercises with dumbbells are too challenging, you can drastically reduce the dumbbells’ weight or drop them completely. Work hard but also work smart.
Strength training for women over 50 is something that helps with preventing certain diseases. It also allows you to stay in shape, speed up metabolism, and build muscle mass. It’s important to have an established workout routine every week, which ensures you get to experience the benefits of the exercises.
Make sure you have a mat and some dumbbells to help you perform some of the above exercises. As you start your routine, you will see great results after a while, not only physical but also mental. Hopefully, this will encourage you to keep going and building your strength training routine.
Mother, wife, school teacher and yogini. Finds peace and a much needed exercise in yoga. After a few years of just yoga, she’s now exploring other kinds of training and eating routines looking to stay fit to keep enjoying traveling and discovering the world.