Five reasons for starting to lift those weights

Working out with hand weights is one of the best things a woman over 50 can do for health – and it won’t make you look like the Hulk. Julie Welch explains

Working out with weights is one of the best things you can do for your body, ever and even more so if you’re a woman who has reached 50. Here are five reasons for starting to lift those weights.

 1.  It stops you from getting fat

As we age, increasing and maintaining muscle mass is one of the best ways to keep body fat at bay. Research shows that the average woman who strength-trains two to three times a week for two months swaps 3½lbs of body fat for nearly 2lbs of muscle; and on average, for every pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35-50 more calories a day.  Now, time to dispel a myth: it’s not true that it makes you bulk up like a 1980s Soviet shotputter. Unlike men, women don’t gain size from weight training; we develop muscle tone and definition. One of the side benefits of regular weights training is that your body will start asking you to feed it protein, which builds muscle, rather than carbs, which build waistlines.

2.  It lifts your mood

Research confirms that women who strength-train report feeling more confident and capable of coping with the slings and arrows that come our way in midlife.

3.  It helps with back pain

It resurrects your boobs and straightens a spine that, after years of hunching over a computer, is beginning to slump into a demi-lune. Crucially, it also offers protection against osteoporosis by increasing bone density, improves your balance and can really help if you suffer from back pain.

4.  It cuts the risks of heart disease and diabetes

Strength-training is a great way of lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol and blood pressure, so it cuts down the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

5.  It will give you stamina and energy

Not only will strength-training give you energy, stamina and power but it will also make you feel psychologically strong as well as physically.

5 Tips for Getting Started:

  1.  Work out at home

Working out with weights can easily be done at home. In fact, for older women – who can be self-conscious and fastidious about doing strength work – it is by far the better solution, since the corner of the gym where the weights live tends to be off-puttingly colonized by grunty dudes in sweat-splattered T-shirts.

2.  Invest in  a set of hand weights

Leave the dumbbells and disc plates for later when you’ve built up strength and technique. Reebok weights go  from toothpick-light to seriously chunky.

3.  Commit to 20 minutes every morning

If you do 20 minutes as soon as you get out of bed, you’ll be set up for the day and energised for a lunchtime run or evening cardio session.

4.  Book a Personal Trainer

If you’re new to working out with weights, consider having two or three sessions with a personal trainer who can show you how to do it safely and effectively and can make a programme specifically for your needs. Your gym will be able to point you towards one.

5.  Check out Youtube

If a personal trainer is beyond your means, there are many Youtube videos that will show you how to train safely