Building muscle is not a easy task and especially after 40. When I was younger, I always had some muscle tone regardless how hard I worked out or what I did at the gym. As long as I was consistently working out I was toned.
This all changed once I got into my 40s. I noticed that I had to worker hard, a lot harder to keep what I already had and even then it still wasn’t working. Yes I was able to keep my weight down but where did all the muscle go?
It wasn’t until I put my focus on strength training- weight bearing exercises designed to build and strengthen muscles that I actually started to see a difference. And this only came about when I decided to get my personal training certification but that’s another topic for another day.
Unfortunately, hormone fluctuations aren’t the only change we face, our metabolic rate in which we burn calories drops, we lose muscle tone and bone density.
Strength training however, does more than just build strong muscles and bones, it changes our metabolism that improves health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. So if you are not concerned with muscle tone, strength training can still have an enormous impact on your health.
Given all of this, it’s easy to see how strength training plays an important part in any exercise plan. You do however, need to give muscles time to rest after each workout and therefore should not strength train the same muscles everyday. So either do the entire workout three times per week, every other day or you can alternate body parts by doing upper body exercises one day and lower body the next. You may do abdominal exercise everyday if that works for your body.
Here is a sample plan that may be perfect if you are a beginner. As always, please consult with your doctor before trying any exercise plan to see if it’s right for you.
This will be done with free weights. Start with the lightest weight (3 to 5 lbs) initially and 3 set of 12 reps for each exercise.
Bicep Curls: Works the biceps
Maintaining a neutral body alignment, keep the elbows close to the body with arms extended and do not lock knees. Curl the barbell to the shoulders and exhale on exertion then inhale while extending arms back to starting position.
Triceps Extension: Works the triceps
Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend arms overhead with palms facing each other. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells behind head until they are perpendicular to the floor. Pause, then straighten arms to return the dumbbells to the starting position. Make sure you keep elbows close to head.
Front Raise: Works the shoulders
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs. Your palms should face toward you. Raise your arms up in front of you. Pause when the dumbbells reach shoulder height. Then slowly return the weights to the starting position.
Lunges: Works Quads, Hamstrings and Glutes
Start with one front in front of the other as though you are taking a giant step. If necessary use a chair to help keep your balance
Holding a pair of dumbbells, lower yourself bending both knees making sure your knee stays in line with your ankle and your back knee does not hit the floor. Straighten legs to standing
position and then lower again. Keep your back straight and make sure your front knee does not extend over your toes. You can modify this if you have bad knees by only bending knees slightly. Switch legs and do 3 sets of 12 reps
Squats: Works the glutes and Quads
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and arms out in front of you. Stand with your feet approximately one shoulder width apart. Point your toes slightly outwards, as this helps to stabilize your stance.
Keep your arms either extended out in front of you or if you are using weights keep at your side. Push your hips back. slowly bending your knees to a 90 degree angle.
Rather than squatting straight down, you want to hinge your hips so that your butt moves backwards, almost as if you were sitting in an invisible chair. Make sure your knees don’t extend beyond the tips of your toes, unless you are very tall.Your body weight should be concentrated on your heels rather than on your toes. This will allow you to squat deeper Slowly rise to starting position.
So there you have it. A simple strength training workout to get you started on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Now I would love to hear how strength training has helped you and which exercises are your favorites.
Please share in the comments below.