“I worried I’d get big if I lifted weights, but I actually dropped a dress size!”
Nicolle Smith, 49, on taking up strength training at age 46
I started lifting weights three years ago at the age of 46. I wanted to find a physical activity that would challenge me. If you’re not a runner (and I never enjoyed running), the options for fitness in the middle years really narrow down to a handful of activities. Many play tennis (which yields a high chronic injury rate in those of us over 40), take up yoga (which is fine, but doesn’t really get the heart rate up or develop strength), or try golf (which isn’t my thing).
Weight lifting for women
I considered CrossFit, but there was no way I was going to master all those complicated moves. And realistically, I wasn’t in good enough shape to even think about something that advanced. Group exercise can be fun, but I like to work at my own pace – and to be honest, I really hate cheerleader-type exercise instructors.
I was intrigued by strength-based exercises and set out to find a qualified strength and conditioning trainer. My personal trainer started me off with a few basic body weight exercises and moves, but the first time he asked me to pick up a dumbbell, I told him I didn’t want to lift heavy weights. I worried that I would get big. He guaranteed me I would not. I thought about the lean, firm women I’d seen lifting weights, and agreed to give it a shot.
Lifting weights has a huge health impact for women as they age. I am stronger and more capable than I was in my 20s. I had a bone density scan last year, and the technician told me mine was “off the charts”. I have also dropped a dress size as fat has gradually dissolved and been replaced with muscle.
Strength training provides the perfect challenge for me. And I love the training environment. No one is there to show off. We’re all there to do our best and to get better. It is really empowering.
Benefits of weight training for women
Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness, and it provides an important balance to aerobic workouts. The Mayo Clinic counts the following among the many benefits of strength training:
Preserves your muscle
Muscle mass diminishes with age. You can counteract this loss through strength training. The percentage of fat on your body increases as you get older if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose. Strength training helps preserve and enhance your muscle mass, regardless of your age.
Controls weight and boosts metabolism
A regular strength training program helps you increase lean body mass and burn calories more efficiently, which can result in healthy weight loss.
Reduces risk of osteoporosis
Because of hormonal changes that women experience as they get older, they naturally lose bone density, putting them at increased risk for developing osteoporosis. Routinely lifting weights slows bone deterioration and can help your bones grow stronger, help you maintain strength, and reduce your chance of developing — or slow the effects of — osteoporosis. In Nashville, Basics and Beyond also uses whole-body vibration training for osteoporosis prevention and reversal.
Decreases risk of injuries and falls
When you build muscle, you help protect your joints from injury and increase your balance and coordination. This becomes increasingly important to help you maintain function and independence as you age.
Women’s strength training options
Strength training for women doesn’t have to be limited to heavy barbells! Strength workouts can use resistance tubing, dumbbells, sandbags, weighted vests, kettlebells, bodyweight, or even water. Anything that stresses your muscles can give women the benefits of strength training.
If you’d like to find out more about hiring a personal trainer to have fun lifting weights, getting strong, toning up, and dropping (at least) a pants size, contact Basics and Beyond to schedule a phone call. Don’t wait – We tend to fill up fast!