Weight training in women over 50 years of age

What is weight training?

Weight training is a common type of strength training that develops skeletal muscles using free weights, weight machines, body weight, elastic bands or other items to help build muscle.

Health benefits of weight training

Weight training has been shown to help prevent muscle loss which occurs as we age. Maintaining healthy muscles will help with balance and decrease the risk of falls.

Weight training can help maintain strong bones. Bone density decreases with age which can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Regular resistance training can decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering body fat, decreasing blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and lowering the stress placed on the heart while lifting a particular load. Women who go through menopause have an increased risk of heart disease as the estrogen levels drop, weight training helps decrease the risk of heart disease. CDC

Weight training can help decrease the risk of back pain. It helps build up muscles which can help reduce strain on your back.

Weight training can help decrease abdominal fat and maintain a healthy weight.

“Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly sleep better; they sleep more deeply and longer and awaken less often”. -CDC

Weight training can also reduce the risk of depression and boost self-confidence. -CDC

Prior to beginning weight training

Complete a  PHYSICAL ACTIVITY READINESS QUESTIONNAIRE

According to the American College of Sports Medicine,

“If you answered yes to one or more questions, if you are over 40 years of age and have recently been inactive, or if you are concerned about your health, consult a physician before taking a fitness test or substantially increasing your physical activity. If you answered no to each question, then it’s likely that you can safely begin exercising.”

If there are any concerns with your heath you should seek out medical attention.

Concern for injuries in women who weight train and are over 50

I asked  Mike Lynch, a personal trainer at Lynch Fit if there was a concern for injury in women over 50 years of age who weigh trained.

Mike responded,

“As a trainer I don’t prescribe high impact exercises for any women no matter their age. Obviously, as we age our bodies are not as resilient as they were in our 20s and 30s so it’s important to be mindful to pick exercises that mimic real life with the emphasis on safety. This is not to be misinterpreted, one needs to apply intensity to their exercise program but stay away from ballistic and high impact exercises.”

We asked personal trainers if  a fitness program differed in a woman who is 30 compared to a woman who is over 50 years of age?”

Mike Lynch, owner and trainer of Lynch Fit suggests,

“I could go on for days about the benefits of weight training for both women and men. Obviously,  a major concern for women after the age of 50 is osteoporosis/bone loss. A good safe program not only puts a healthy stress to the muscular system but also applies a healthy stress to the skeletal system resulting in tissue turnover/muscle and bone regeneration. Combining weight training with a significant influx of quality nutrition will ensure that your body has the raw materials to stave off muscle and bone loss. ”

We asked Marc Arnberg, owner and trainer at F45 Dix Hills suggests,
“The program is the same. However, the exercises, weights and pace will be modified according to our member’s ages and any injuries, etc.”
Weight training injuries

An article in Sports Medicine looked at weight training injuries. They concluded,

“weight-training sports appear to have relatively low rates of injury compared with common team sports.”

“Very few significant differences in any of the injury outcomes were observed as a function of age, sex, competitive standard, or bodyweight class.”

“The shoulder, lower back, knee, elbow, and wrist/hand were generally the most commonly injured anatomical locations; strains, tendinitis, and sprains were the most common injury type.”

Health tips for weight lifting and prevention of injury

Mike Lynch a personal trainer in Long Island and New York City suggests,

“Warming up sufficiently is imperative for all women at any age. That being said the concerns of injury increase as we get older due to prior injuries and joint instability. A good general 5 to 10-minute warm-up followed by light warm-up sets for the muscles that are going to be worked in that given session followed up with a good 5 to 10 minutes of stretching would significantly reduce injury and make your next workout far more productive.”

Consider starting off with less weight and increasing the weight as you advance your program.

Consider a variety of exercises and multiple sets that engage the same muscles,

Stop if pain occurs and seek medical attention.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests,

“that a 2-10% increase in the load be applied when the individual can comfortably perform the current workload for one to two repetitions over the desired number on two consecutive training sessions.”

How often should you weight train?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that a strength training program should be performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week.

Eight to 10 exercises should be performed that target the major muscle groups.

A combination of aerobic and weight training is recommended for health and function.

Weight training and bulky muscles

You can weight train without building bulky muscles depending on how you train.

A fitness trainer can help you plan your individualized weight training program depending on your goals.

Tips for weight lifting

Consider a workout log where you document sets, reps and weights used.

If you are weight lifting at home consider a,

Sturdy chair

Good shoes

Comfortable clothes

Hand held weights

Ankle weights

Mat

The CDC offers a free beginner home weight training book, you do not need special equipment. The book is 126 pages. Skim the PDF file and only print what you want. It also includes a 12-week workbook.

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