Weight training for women is so much more than I thought when I started. Weight training can give women over 40 the strength and body of a woman many years younger.
I remember my thoughts on lifting any weights, including using the resistance bands like it was yesterday. I was so cautious about how much I lifted for fear I would look like a bodybuilder.
As if I would suddenly wake up one morning so leaned out my muscles would be bursting out of my clothes.
After doing some reading about weight training and looking at the women actually doing the workouts, I soon realized weight training could be a good thing for me, especially to help firm up some saggy skin that comes from losing weight and being over 40.
I started my first real weight lifting early 2016 using ChaLean Extreme. After all, the women in those workouts had the image I wanted. Lean, toned bodies that looked young and strong.
The workouts I had done for the years prior had helped tone and restore some muscles, but I was still lacking the next level I desired.
Within the first few days, I was really enjoying the challenge of lifting weights and within a couple of weeks already felt stronger.
After completing that program, I increased the intensity with an Autumn Calabrese workout program that I continue to rotate in my regime now over a year later. And, guess what…I don’t have a bodybuilder body. Nothing close to it.
I am stronger, leaner with less flab. I am strong enough to do things I need around the house and barn without a high risk of injury.
What’s even better are the additional benefits of weight training for women that aren’t necessarily seen. As women over 40, we have to consider what’s going on inside our bodies even more than what the outside looks like.
7 Benefits of Weight Training for Women
1 Stop sporting the “skinny” fat
How many times have you lost weight only to have the flab hanging around? Do you realize you can be skinny without the flab? Even after age 40!
Yes, you can! Weight training, even on a light weight program, can restore muscle loss that will lift and tighten skin to younger years.
Many times in my 30s I lost weight, looking back now I realize every time I lost weight I was actually losing muscle due to the starvation diets I would go on. Those diets along with lack of activity and age left me with very little muscle.
I was left with flabby skin – sometimes tighter than others due to how much I weighed.
To give you an idea of how muscles make someone look leaner, most of my adult life I have weighed about 140 and a size 8 – 10. Now I weigh 138 and am a size 0 – 2.
The cardio workouts are great, those are needed also, but the weight training for women is another piece of our fitness puzzle that’s needed.
2 Frustrated at the Weight Loss Plateau?
There are many reasons for hitting that weight loss plateau. Nutrition, cardio, and needing to “up” your game.
If you are doing the same exercises you did 6 months ago, chances are your body has gotten used to it. I like to equate our body to a teenager. Our body can learn patterns and develop a laziness to it, doing what you want but putting forth the least amount of energy doing so.
Our muscles are able to develop a memory and by nature want to conserve as much energy as possible.
When we exercise we need to break down our muscles, tear the fibers down so that the natural repair function is a stronger muscle. (This is what rest day is, a chance for your muscles to repair and recover.)
Which leads me to another possibility for a weight loss plateau. Make sure you are giving your body rest days. They should be built into your program. Typically it’s one or two days a week, and a few days after 60 or 90 days of a program.
There are some muscles you can work daily, others should be rotated to give those muscles the break needed.
The muscles gained through weight lifting will boost your metabolism, helping to burn more fat. Of course, that is assuming you are getting proper nutrition. Poor nutrition will not encourage muscle growth.
3 Feel Younger with Strength
Would you love to have the strength and energy to do almost anything around the house yourself? I enjoy the independence being fit affords me.
Of course, there are still things I ask Andrew to help me lift and do, but I can feel the difference having a little muscle does now.
As you know, I ride my horse several times a week. Being fit and strong helps me to stay balanced while riding in addition to being able to more easily carry around equipment needed and just handle a 1400 lb animal much easier.
Perhaps there is a sport you are interested or participate in. Having more muscle tone will certainly help you excel to a higher level.
It’s a little difficult to come up with just the right description of how much better I feel with toned muscles. but feeling younger is pretty accurate. After years of being “skinny fat” and not even realizing it, skinny toned is by far much better!
And, in case you are thinking I was always an athletic type, nothing can be farther from the truth. Sure, I rode horses and took dance classes as a teenager, but after I hit 20 – I didn’t do anything athletic, nor did I ever think I had it in me.
4 Bone Health – Preventing Osteoporosis
If feeling younger and looking younger didn’t appeal to you, having strong bones and dodging the osteoporosis bullet surely will.
We (especially as women over 40) have a higher risk to develop osteoporosis as we age.
Just as the weight training for women helps to build stronger muscles through the challenges of bearing the weight, so do the bones. The stress on the bones during lifting weights, causes bones to increase in density.
5 Say Bye-bye to Fat
We grew up hearing treadmill walking for an hour to burn calories and get rid of the belly fat.
Many women are strictly walking around their neighborhoods trying to work off the fat.
Since then, we have learned how to work smarter, not longer.
Personally, I believe there is a place for a good strong walk on the treadmill or the neighborhood, particularly in the beginning of a big weight loss. Studies have shown walking at least 10k steps a day will improve your health. (Here’s how you can get 10k steps a day)
However, it is a well-designed weight training program that will blast the fat away.
Cardio is great and much needed for heart health. A cardio workout burns both fat and muscle while weight lifting burns strictly fat.
6 Burn More Calories All Day, Every Day
As women over 40 we can gain weight by just looking at bread. Not if you are lifting weights regularly. (Not to suggest we can eat anything we want.)
By having more muscle mass, a lean toned body, our metabolism will be boosted from that of a woman the same age who is skinny fat or out of shape.
So yes, you will be able to eat a little more, but still, say no to the bread. 🙂
7 Have a Sharper Mind
It’s really insane to think about, but since I have become fit and strong, my mind really does feel younger in terms of being sharper.
Perhaps it’s the greater confidence, self-esteem I have, but it is all due to better health and strength.
Many times I have wished I had gotten on this health train 15 years ago! Take it from me, don’t delay. You will feel great when you have accomplished this for yourself.
Weight Training for Women Over 40
The weight training for women program doesn’t have to be heavy weights if your goal isn’t to have a sculpted body. If your goal is simply to tone a bit and have better health, just lifting 5-10 lbs will have the desired effect when done properly through guidance and a program.
Likewise, there is no reason you can’t lift heavier as you progress and want to continue challenging yourself. Make sure to work with a professional who can instruct the proper weight to lift and increase if you are new to weight training.
Beginner Weight Training Programs
It’s important to follow a program that will explain how to lift weights, particularly in the beginning. Just like other workouts, there are specific muscles to focus on for different exercises and a trainer can help you through.
Below are some good beginner workouts.
For additional information on weight training for women, be sure to check out Why Lifting Weights is an Absolute Must for Women Over 40.