Strength training, also known as resistance training or weightlifting, is an effective way for women to improve their health and fitness. While many women may feel intimidated by the idea of lifting weights, it is important to recognize that strength training is not just for bodybuilders or professional athletes. In fact, strength training can benefit women of all ages and fitness levels.
Why Strength Training is Important for Women
As we age, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass and bone density. This can lead to various health problems, including osteoporosis, decreased mobility, and an increased risk of falls and fractures. However, strength training can help counteract these effects by building muscle and increasing bone density.
In addition to its physical benefits, strength training can also improve mental health and cognitive function. For example, studies have shown that strength training can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and may even improve memory and cognitive function.
How to Get Started with Strength Training
First and foremost, check with your doctor to make sure that strength training is safe for your current health condition, or to understand any limitations that you need to consider.
Once you get the "ok", it’s helpful to have goals when you start training. For LA-based personal trainer Nathan Michaels, his clients tend to focus on one of three goals, “the big ones are weight loss, wanting to move better, and then potentially some performance goals as well.”
If you are new to strength training, start slowly before gradually increasing the weight and intensity of your workouts. Begin with lighter weights and focus on proper form and technique before adding to the weight or number of repetitions.
It is also important to choose exercises that target all of the major muscle groups, including the chest, back, legs, arms, and core. Doing so helps ensure that you are getting a balanced workout without neglecting any muscle groups. In terms of equipment, you can start with simple free weights, resistance bands, or even simply with your own body weight. Many gyms also offer introductory strength training classes or personal training sessions that can get you started with learning proper forms and techniques.
Tips for Successful Strength Training
There are several best practices to help you get the most out of your strength training workouts while keeping the risks of injury at bay. Adopting these positive habits can help you reach your strength goals faster to achieve lasting results.
Consistency Is Key
Aim to strength train at least two to three times per week and try to stick to a regular schedule. The body is like a machine, it is important to keep your muscles active for optimal function.
Mix Up Your Routine
Avoid repeating the same exercises for each workout session. Instead, consider switching things up by incorporating different fitness routines, and varying the weight and intensity of your workouts.
Pay Attention To Your Body
Stop the exercise immediately and consult a trainer or medical professional if something doesn’t feel right or you experience any form of pain or discomfort. While you might expect some soreness at first, according to Michaels, “soreness is not an indicator of a good workout. If you're sore after every single workout, you're doing too much.”
Fuel Your Body Properly
Make sure you are getting enough protein and other nutrients to support muscle growth and recovery.
Get Sufficient Sleep
According to Michaels, muscle-building occurs while you're sleeping, and not getting enough quality rest can lead to “a loss of progress, a lot of soreness, and the loss of motivation.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge Yourself
As you progress, don’t be afraid to increase the weight or intensity of your workouts. Remember, it is important to push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to see results.
How to Find a Personal Trainer
Some people find that working with a trainer provides consistency and motivation. Trainers can also help make sure you have the right form so you can work out safely. Depending on your budget, you may want to work with a trainer just to establish a routine, or continue on a regular basis, or do "check-ins" at various intervals.
Finding the right personal trainer can be daunting, especially for women who may have specific health concerns or fitness goals. The good news is that with the right amount of research and preparation, you can find a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health and well-being in no time.
Seek Personal Training Certifications
When searching for a personal trainer, ensure they are certified by a reputable organization such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
A certified personal trainer has official training in workout essentials including anatomy studies, exercise physiology, and fitness program design training, equipped with the skills to help develop the safest and most effective workout plan for you.
Consider a Trainer’s Experience
A personal trainer's practical experience is equal in importance to their certification. Consider fine-tuning your search for a trainer with specific experience working with women over 40 and a positive track record of helping clients achieve their strength goals.
Review References and Testimonials
Seek references and testimonials from your trainer’s past clients. Honest client feedback provides a genuine feel of what it is like to work with the trainer and the effectiveness of their programs.
Assess Their Communication Style
Communication is critical when working with a personal trainer. Prioritize your search for a trainer who genuinely listens to your concerns, explains exercises clearly, and offers flexible arrangements that suit your needs and schedule.
An all-around positive guide provides the motivation and inspiration to help you reach your fitness goals faster and with greater confidence. According to LA-based personal trainer, Nathan Michaels, it’s important to find someone that takes time to listen “and take your needs and goals and put them on the forefront.”
Evaluate Their Approach to Health and Fitness
Ensure that a trainer's approach to health and fitness aligns with your personal workout goals and values.
For example, if you prefer functional fitness, seek a trainer who can effectively incorporate functional movements into your sessions. Similarly, if you prioritize weight loss, reach out to a trainer specialized in nutrition who can help you develop a healthy eating plan to supplement your workouts.
Consider Their Availability and Location
Aside from your trainer’s credentials and accolades, it is important to check that their availability and location work for you.
Go with a trainer who can accommodate your schedule so you can make the most out of your collaboration. You might consider trainers who offer in-home or remote training sessions if you prefer sweating it out in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Strength training is a fantastic way for women to improve their overall health and fitness. By incorporating resistance training into your workout routine, you can increase your strength, bone density, and metabolism, while also reducing your risk of injury and improving your posture. With consistency and dedication, you can achieve your fitness goals and enjoy the many benefits of strength training.