How Strength Training Can Benefit Us Over 40s
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Life begins at 40! Just because you may think you are past your prime doesn’t mean that you actually are and the benefits of strength training in midlife shouldn’t be overlooked.

A little each week can make the world of difference to the way you feel as well as the way you look.

You don’t have to venture into the gym feeling intimidated by all the younger attendees in their swanky new gym gear building big strong bodies because now it’s your turn!

Put on your best workout clothes, dust off your trainers and walk into the gym with your head held high because this is why strength training can benefit us over 40’s or over 50’s or 60’s.

Alternatively, get yourself an area in your home set aside for a transformation of the body and mind. Equipment is not necessary as we’ll find out later although investing in some weights, a mat, maybe some resistance bands, etc. maybe a good idea.

What exactly is strength training?

Ok, so you might not have even heard of strength training but don’t worry. Let’s break it down and discuss what it actually is. Strength training isn’t going to the gym every day and spending 30 minutes on a treadmill.

Strength training is a form of physical exercise that uses free weights or machines to induce muscular contraction to build strength, endurance and the size of your skeletal muscles. Strength training is also fun! It’s different and highly varied and you can train each part of your body.

If you feel like you’ve always had weak legs or weak arms you can build up their strength so you can keep up with the kids, and even lift the grandkids!

Don’t worry. You aren’t going to end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger if you pick up a set of dumbbells. And you neither need to go to a gym or have a weight-strewn, fitness machine-filled room to get the best from a strength-based workout.

Sometimes, all you need is the simplest of fitness equipment like resistance bands and a mat. You don’t even need a ton of different weights. There are dumbbell systems, for instance, that are an all-in-one solution like popular Powerblock and Bowflex adjustable weights.

Benefits of Strength Training

1. Protects bone health and muscle mass

 You might not have realized, that after puberty (which is obviously a distant memory now) we lose about 1% of our bone and muscle mass every year unless we do something about it. One of the best ways to prevent this and actually reverse it is to strength train regularly.

mature woman using barbellsStrength training will enable you to achieve stronger bones and better muscle mass. In order to do this effectively, you will need to feed your body with the correct nutrition. This means consuming a lean protein source after every training session. That’s not all there is to it though as we’ll now discuss.

One of the most effective ways to guarantee that your hard work pays off in an optimal way is to consume a fast-acting natural carb. Sources like pineapple or banana in conjunction with lean protein  (ideally a serving of whey protein) to create what’s known as an “insulin spike”.

This spike will actually serve to rapidly deliver the protein to the muscles and kick-start the recovery process. This spike would be incredibly difficult to achieve (if not impossible) without the use of a fast-acting carbohydrate source.

It should be noted at this point that this consumption of rapid-acting carbohydrates only applies in the half an hour window after a workout. The rest of your carbohydrate sources throughout the day should be of a slow digesting nature as per complex carb options as they do not release surplus energy to get stored as fat.

2. Holds back the stubborn waistline

Strength training helps you to develop your bone density and muscle mass. It also helps to burn that stubborn body fat! If you have been struggling to get into that new outfit or put your old pair of 80s jeans on, strength training is the way forward.

The development of lean muscle tissue means your body has to work even harder. This means it will be using and burning more calories for all these vital processes.

This process is often referred to as ‘physiologic homework’. Strength training can also kick-start your metabolism speeding it up by up to 15%. Not only will you get leaner, you’ll be slimmer too as your excess body fat starts to disappear.

3. Enjoy a stronger and fitter you!

Strength training is more commonly referred to as resistance training because you are using your muscles to ‘resist’ an opposing force. There are two types of resistance; isometric and isotonic.

Isometric resistance means you are contracting your muscles against a stationary object, such as against the floor in a press-up.

Midlife strength training

Isotonic strength training means you will be contracting your muscles through a whole range of motion as in weight lifting, for example, curling up a dumbbell or using the leg press.

Both forms of resistance training will make you stronger and leaner and assist greatly in getting you into great shape. The key with strength training is to give your muscles time to heal and recover.

Ideally, take a rest day in between strength training sessions and always make sure you effectively warm-up and cool down before and after every single strength training session.

4. Better balance and coordination

As we all know, getting a little older can sometimes diminish our coordination skills. Strength training will give you benefits that reach far beyond those of a flat stomach and nicely toned muscles. You can enjoy better balance and coordination, as these two skills will improve, as will your posture. It’s a good point to mention here if you have spent many years sat in an office chair and ruined your posture strength training is excellent for straightening you up.

What’s more, if you already feel as though you have poor flexibility and balance, strength training can reduce your risk of falling by an astonishing 40%! A crucial benefit, especially as you get older.

5. Better mood

It’s true if you strength train you simply can’t be grumpy. This is a scientific fact because regular strength training will elevate your natural levels of endorphins, which are responsible for making you feel happy, and provide you with that “on top of the world” feeling we all know and love.

As if that isn’t enough to convince you, strength training is a great, natural anti-depressant. You can also enjoy better sleep and better concentration at work.

Take those steps towards a better, longer and more fulfilling life

If you have any known health issues, or any worries at all ask your doctor what type of strength training you can safely partake in to meet your physical and psychological needs.

You can also work with a coach or personal trainer to design a bespoke strength-training program tailored to your needs and schedule that will be safe and effective for you. Want to live a longer, healthier life? Take those first steps to a stronger you today!

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Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. Redundancy from retail management meant an enforced move from helping women with sports shoes and apparel to helping people get fit and well.

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