Perhaps it’s time to build some strength in your aging body. After all, any type of preventive health measure we can take is important. Women who want to lose weight and have a lean, toned body look won’t get it without adding on muscle.
But strength training pays off in bigger ways than looking better. Besides helping you to burn more calories and increase your metabolism, one of the benefits is a decreased risk of osteoporosis. Weight lifting helps to make bones denser. Nobody wants to suffer from a fracture.
It also helps to lower stress, provide more energy, improve your posture and it helps increase your performance with daily tasks such as lifting, carrying, and opening doors and jars.
Resistance training can aid in injury prevention because it strengthens your tendons and ligaments in addition to your muscles and bones. And another big payoff is that it can lessen the signs and symptoms of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis.
So okay, maybe you’re doing cardio (think treadmills, swimming, biking or aerobics classes). If you’re worried about losing muscle, and women begin to lose it somewhere in their thirties, cardio alone is not as effective as cardio and strength training combined. In fact, strength training may be the preferable choice, if losing muscle mass is of concern to you. From your thirties on, with age-related sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process), inactivity may cause you to lose 3% to 5% of your muscle mass per decade.
And yet, for whatever reason, only a mere 20% of women are doing strength training, according to my research.
Maybe you’re afraid of acquiring Bluto-type muscles – you won’t.
Maybe you can’t see yourself grunting and straining to lift weights like a sumo wrestler – can you picture yourself using some dumbbells, resistance bands or even your own body to do some strength-building moves?
Maybe you feel you don’t have the time. I understand. My schedule is tight, too. But surely you can fit in a quick 15-minute routine? Only 2-3 days per week? At home?
All you have to do is start slowly. It’s totally doable, and I know you can handle it.
Whether you scout out some exercises on youtube.com, hire a personal trainer or go to the gym, there are numerous ways to get started. Just be sure to consult with a qualified physician before engaging in any significant diet, fitness or lifestyle change. And be sure to learn proper form and technique.
Now whether I’ve convinced you to start strength training or you’ve been doing it awhile, you may be wondering what to eat before, during and after your workouts. You’d never head out on a long road trip without filling your tank with gas, right?!
Skipping your pre-workout fuel is the equivalent of hitting the road with an empty gas tank. You may get off to a good start, but you’ll likely be running on fumes in no time.
When you feed your body with the right nutrients before your workout, you’ll be able to lift more, run longer & faster, and speed up your gains. Plus you’ll feel so much better doing it!
Since our body’s preferred energy source is carbohydrates, your pre-workout fuel should be higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat.
Protein and fat are harder for our body to digest, and this uses up extra energy that we could be putting toward our workout.
Aim to eat about an hour before your workout to give your body time to digest and absorb the nutrients.
Here are a few Pre-Workout options that work well for pre-strength (as well as pre-cardio) workouts:
- Whole grain rice cake with 1 Tbsp. nut butter
- Small apple and a handful of raw nuts (or nut butter)
- ½ cup of plain oatmeal with berries
During Your Workout
Just plain water will do the trick during your workout. Experts recommend drinking between 3-8 ounces of water every 15 minutes during your sweat session.
Also, you can hold off on the sports drinks unless you’re exercising for 90-minutes or longer, or you’re exercising in extreme heat.
Sports drinks help to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes but are not necessary for the average gym goer.
Why not skip the sugary, neon-blue commercial sports drink all together and just whip up your own for longer, sweatier workouts?
Just grab a ½ cup pure orange juice, top with filtered water and add a pinch of sea salt or pink salt. You’ve got a DIY electrolyte replacement drink for a fraction of the cost, and it’s infinitely healthier.
Here are a few examples of a balanced Post-Lifting meal:
- Grilled chicken breast with roasted vegetables
- 2 hard-boiled eggs and whole grain crackers
You’ll also love this delicious smoothie – packed with protein, fiber and the anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries!
Very Cherry Recovery Smoothie
1 cup of non-dairy milk of choice
1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice (unsweetened, less processed)
1 handful of fresh or frozen tart cherries (frozen will have a thicker consistency)
1-2 tbsp. of chia seeds or hemp hearts
1 handful of greens (spinach or baby kale work well here)
2-3 ice cubes (more if you’ve used fresh cherries)
Blend, enjoy and watch those muscles grow!
Please consider integrating a functional strength training regimen into your life.
Let me ask you: do you have a strength training routine? If not, why not? What’s holding you back? What suggestions do you have for others who may be considering strength training? Please respond below. As always, we’d love to hear from you.