Start with light weights, perform the exercises slowly and controlled, and then progress to heavier weights as time and your ability levels permit.
Hey there, ladies! So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start strength training, huh? Good for you! Strength training is essential for maintaining your overall health, especially as we get older. But if you’re a senior woman just starting out, it can be a bit daunting. Fear not, because we’re here to guide you through the process with some helpful tips and advice. Let’s dive in!
Why Strength Training is Important for Senior Women
First things first, let’s talk about why strength training is so important for senior women. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and bone density, leading to a higher risk of fractures and falls (1). Strength training helps combat these issues by building muscle, improving balance, and increasing bone density (2).
Moreover, strength training has been shown to improve our mental well-being, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and even increase longevity (3). Now, who wouldn’t want that?
Consult a Healthcare Professional Before Starting
Before you embark on your strength training journey, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. They can help you determine if you have any pre-existing conditions or physical limitations that need to be considered when designing your exercise plan (4). It’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
For example, if you have a history of very high blood pressure and it’s uncontrolled, you’ll want to get that controlled by medication if it’s routinely above 170/80. If you start exercising and it’s above this range you can increase your risk of stroke. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Begin with Bodyweight Exercises
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. When you’re just starting out, it’s best to begin with bodyweight exercises, which are a great way to ease into strength training. These exercises use your body’s weight as resistance and can be easily modified to suit your fitness level. Some examples of bodyweight exercises include:
a. Squats: Great for building lower body strength, particularly in the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings (5). The simplest way to do these is box squats, standing up and down from a chair.
b. Wall Push-Ups: An excellent modification of the standard push-up, focusing on upper body strength, specifically targeting the chest, shoulders, and triceps (6).
c. Seated Leg Lifts: This exercise targets the hip flexors and quadriceps, helping improve balance and mobility (7).
Remember to start slow and listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort, stop and consult your healthcare professional.
I generally recommend you start with 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each movement, 3x/week.
Gradually Progress to Using Resistance Bands and Weights
Once you’re comfortable with bodyweight exercises, it’s time to level up! Resistance bands and weights are great tools to help you build strength and challenge your muscles (8). Here are a few exercises you can try:
a. Bicep Curls: This classic move targets the biceps and can be done with dumbbells or resistance bands (9).
b. Seated Rows: Strengthen your back and shoulders with this exercise, using a resistance band or a cable machine (10).
c. Step-Ups: Grab a pair of dumbbells and step up onto a sturdy surface, like a step or low bench, to work your lower body (11).
Remember to start with light weights or low resistance and gradually increase as you become stronger.
Prioritize Proper Form and Technique
Regardless of the exercises you choose, always prioritize proper form and technique. This ensures you’re effectively targeting the intended muscles and reducing the risk of injury (12). Don’t hesitate to consult a personal trainer or seek out instructional videos online to make sure you’re performing the exercises correctly.
Consistency is Key
Like with any form of exercise, consistency is crucial for seeing results. Aim to strength train at least two to three times per week, allowing for rest days in between to give your muscles time to recover and grow (13). It might be tempting to push yourself harder, but remember that slow and steady progress is more sustainable in the long run.
I can’t tell you how many people just go in, start working out 7 days per week and then burnout because they went from 0-100 WAY TOO FAST. That’s the fastest way to not hit your goals.
Don’t Forget to Stretch and Warm Up
Before you dive into your strength training routine, it’s essential to warm up and stretch to prepare your body for the exercises ahead. Warming up helps increase blood flow to your muscles, may reduce the risk of injury, and can improve your overall performance (14). Likewise, stretching after your workout feels good and if you add something that feels good after a challenging workout, you’re likely to remember the thing that felt good… which means you’ll keep doing it! (15).
Some effective warm-up exercises include:
a. Marching in place
b. Arm circles
c. Leg swings
Post-workout stretching exercises to consider:
a. Hamstring stretch
b. Calf stretch
c. Shoulder stretch
Stay Motivated and Enjoy the Process
Last but certainly not least, remember that strength training should be enjoyable! Find exercises that you genuinely enjoy doing, and don’t be afraid to switch up your routine to keep things fresh and exciting. Setting small, achievable goals can also help you stay motivated and track your progress.
There you have it, ladies – a beginner’s guide to strength training for senior women! Remember to consult a healthcare professional before starting, prioritize proper form, and most importantly, enjoy the process.
Strength training is an incredible tool for enhancing your overall health and well-being, and it’s never too late to start. So go ahead, embrace your inner strength, and show the world what you’re capable of!