Most of my clients are women over the age of 50. As a group, I can say that they are the hardest working and most dedicated clients that a personal trainer could ask for. Hard working, dedicated, and totally focused on getting better and stronger. Girls definitely rule when it comes to training.
The biggest request I get when starting with a new client is “I need to get rid of this fat around my (fill in the blank)”. The impression is that if they do tons of crunches, they will lose the fat that has accumulated around their bellies. It doesn’t quite work that way. Exercises targeting a specific part of the anatomy doesn’t burn-up all the fat in that one area. Sorry.
In addition to accumulating a little extra padding in those “problem areas”, there are other changes happening in your body after 50. Here are just a few of the most common adaptations to age:
• Menopause ends the childbearing years
• Gray hair replaces natural hair color
• Vision fades requiring reading glasses
• Gravity starts to take over as everything starts to sag a bit
• Skin loses it’s normal elasticity and feels loose
• Thickness around the waist and hips start to form
I could go on, but let’s stop there. There is no way to stop the natural aging process. At 59, I am amazed at how my body has changed over the past 20 years. With every 12-month turn of the calendar, I have to work harder to just keep-up. Since I know I cannot stop the aging process, my goal is to simply slow it down a bit, and that should be yours as well.
Perhaps one of the best ways to slow down the effects of aging after 50 is to lift weight. Now, I’m not talking about the little 2-pound dumbbells. I’m talking REAL weight. Here are 3 reasons why you need to lift weight after 50:
1. Bone Density
You think drinking milk and taking calcium supplements is going to keep your bones strong and hold off the dreaded “hump back” caused by osteoporosis? Think again.
The best way to build strong bones is by lifting heavy weight. Think about it for a second – When you pick up something heavy, your brain (being the super smart computer it is) determines that you need a little more thickness in that arm-bone or else it will snap like a twig. So, when you consistently hoist heavy weight, growth hormone is produced and new bone cells created to increase the density and strength of the skeletal structure(your arm).
This is called “anatomical adaptation”, and it is the fastest and best way to get your bones strong.
2. Burn Fat
Would you like to turn you body into a little “fat burning machine”? No problem. Just start lifting heavy weight. When you lift weight, your body produces lean muscle mass, which takes calories to support. This increases your basal metabolic rate and helps you to burn more calories during the day.
The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn. If the body does not have a ready source of sugar available, it will start utilizing body fat for energy. This is where good nutrition comes in. But needless to say, if you are lifting weight and building lean muscle, you will reduce the fat around your waist, hips, thighs, and arms.
3. Feel Awesome
I know this one doesn’t sound very scientific, but lifting weight will elevate your mood and make you feel like you can do anything.
When you lift heavy weight, your body produces endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain and reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a “positive feeling” in your body similar to that of morphine. In essence, you get “high” when you workout with weights.
Lifting weight is less dangerous and certainly less expensive than taking drugs, both legal and illegal. It is very cool for me to be greeted at the door with a scowl (I’m not in the mood to train) only to have my client give me a huge energized smile when I leave. Yup, those endorphin thing really do work.
So, if you are a woman over 50, then give lifting weight a try. My advice is to work with certified personal trainer who can show you the right exercises and how to do them safely. A good trainer will also help you progress the movements and weight so that you keep getting stronger. If you need any help, just let me know.