Strength training with my mum – one of my favourite weekly activities.
“The quality of our life is in direct correlation to the health of our muscles, and the amount of muscle we have.”
After hearing this saying recently, it struck me just how true that is.
Especially for women. After the age of 30, we start to lose muscle. And this loss speeds up when we reach menopause.
Now you may be thinking, so what? Maybe your fitness journey has never really focused on strength training. Perhaps you’ve always relied on cardio or other weight loss exercises to reach your fitness goals.
Well, our muscles do a lot more work in our bodies than we realize. The impact of muscle loss on our health shows up in various ways, such as:
- We feel (and get) weaker
- We are more prone to aches and pains
- We lose the muscle tone that gives us shape and confidence in our clothes
- Our metabolism drops, making it harder to lose weight (or maintain a weight we’re happy with)
Ultimately, muscle loss makes us look older, feel older, and gain weight faster. As we age, we continue to eat what we used to when we were teenagers or in our 20s. But now…our metabolism is lower. In addition to that, we feel weaker and have more body aches and pain. So, we’re also less active.
All of this culminates in increased weight gain over time.
Why Maintaining Muscle Mass is Key for Women’s Longevity and Quality of Life
When we were younger, we may have gotten away with just focusing on cardio exercise or no exercise at all. But as we age, we need to incorporate tools that make up for the muscle loss our bodies are experiencing.
We need to incorporate strength training into our exercise routines to help us hit our long-term health goals.
Strength training is one of the most impactful tools available to us for weight loss. It not only helps us hit our fitness goals, but it also helps us live fun, active lives for decades to come.
Strength training does this by helping us rebuild and maintain muscle mass.
Our muscles play a significant role in our overall health. They help us maintain healthy blood sugar levels, reducing our risk of diabetes. Muscle mass also helps to strengthen our bones, protecting us against osteoporosis.
Muscles help us move well, stay mobile, and react to things that throw us off balance (for example, when we trip).
Whenever we eat, our muscles act as sponges. They soak up carbohydrates in our blood for us to use as energy. If we don’t use up the stored energy through physical activity or exercise, our bodies convert carbohydrates into fat. Strength training increases the amount of physical activity we do, helping us burn off any excess carbs we may have.
Another Huge Benefit of Strength Training is That it Protects and Strengthens our Bones.
As we age and lose muscle, our bones get weaker. Because when we use our muscles, they pull on our bones, encouraging them to get stronger. Muscle loss is actually a big reason we become frail and are at a higher risk of falls as we age.
Developing or maintaining muscle mass is crucial for women over the age of 50, as around half will eventually develop osteoporosis. When you look at the statistics worldwide, nearly 1 in 3 women, over the age of 50, will experience osteoporosis fractures.
These types of fractures are far more common than heart attacks, strokes, or breast cancer. If the fracture happens to be a hip fracture, 1 in 4 people will die within a year of having it.
If you’ve ever broken or fractured a bone before, you know how difficult it is to gain your mobility back and return to being independent. Well, without muscles to support your bones as they heal, regaining your mobility is extremely difficult.
This is why many women who fall or fracture a bone are less mobile and are weaker after their accidents. The loss of their independence causes them to lose their confidence. They end up doing less and less, which worsens their health—ultimately, shortening their life.
By simply incorporating strength or resistance training in your exercise routine, many of these ailments can be prevented.
Strength training allows you to literally slow down the aging process by building up your muscles. By focusing on your diet and ensuring you eat enough protein, you can also maintain your muscle mass as much as possible.
Easy Ways to Add Strength Training to Your Fitness Routine
When you’re starting with resistance training, don’t make it complicated. Keep it simple. Your goal should be to get stronger over time as you move your body against resistance.
It also doesn’t have to take a long time either. Many clients do just 15 to 20-minute strength training sessions at home. But visiting the gym for a 20 – 40 minute weight lifting session has incredible benefits as well, such as access to different equipment.
Below is a simple and effective weightlifting template you can follow to get started.
Push / Pull / Legs
This routine includes three different exercises where you either push the weights away from you, pull them toward you, or work your legs.
Directions: Choose one exercise from each of the following categories. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise. This will give you an easy and very effective strength training workout.
If you want to take it up a bit, you can add a second exercise from each category or any other exercises you’d like to do.
Choose one exercise where you’re pushing forward or up over your head. Below are some suggestions:
- Dumbbell or barbell bench press
- Any form of push-ups
- Machine chest press
- Cable chest press
Choose an exercise where you’re pulling down or horizontally toward you. Check for examples below:
- Dumbbell row, kneeling on a bench
- Bent over row
- Machine row
- Cable seated row
Choose an exercise that works the big muscle group in your legs. Below are a few suggestions:
- Leg press machine
Strength training is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle for all women, but especially women 30 and older.
By building and maintaining muscle mass, you can prevent age-related muscle loss, improve bone density, and increase longevity and your overall quality of life.
Whether you’re new to exercise or a seasoned gym-goer, consider incorporating strength training into your routine to reap its many health benefits and achieve your fitness goals. Your body will thank you for it!
If you’d like to learn more about strength training for women, I have a podcast episode on the topic – check it out below.
You can also find more information and ideas on incorporating strength training into your fitness routine on my Instagram page – @hayleyplummerpt
If you have a question to ask me directly, please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’d like your own personalised training program, with an online coach who can support, encourage and guide you to get the best out of it, find out more about online coaching here: