Many people underestimate the importance of doing strength training throughout their lifetime. We start to lose muscle mass starting around the age of 30 so you can imagine how weak we become year after year as we age if we don't do some kind of resistance training. Without maintaining muscle, we are more apt to getting injured and as we get into our 60's and older, we have a much higher chance of falling. Falling can lead to very serious injuries, even death in some cases. On a positive note, when you start strength training, there are a ton of benefits!
What are the benefits of strength training?
allows you to walk longer and stronger as you age (seniors fall because they lack the muscle to stay balanced during every day tasks)
keeps you independent longer because you'll have the strength and balance to do things for yourself (do chores around the house, lift groceries, walk up and down stairs, etc.)
will increase your metabolism and help your body to burn calories longer after a workout compared to just doing cardio
will provide you with a leaner body (less flabby!)
will improve your self-confidence
reduce the chance of developing high blood pressure and diabetes
prevent or reduce effects of osteoporosis (will have stronger bones)
assist in managing pain from arthritis
reduce back pain
can be completed in a short period of time
can start strength training at any age, and still get stronger
How often should you lift weights and how heavy should you lift? Well, it depends. If you're doing a full body workout, then you could do that workout every second or third day. But, sometimes people do an upper body workout one day and a lower body workout the next day. In this case you could alternate the workouts each day. The main rule is to allow the muscles (that you worked) to have a day off to recover and repair. If you don't give the muscles the time to repair, you won't reap the benefits. When I talk about repairing, this is only if you lift heavier weights. If you are doing movement exercises for range of motion or lifting 1 pound weights, you can do those exercises every day. To explain further, say we are doing bicep curls in a workout and I ask you to use a weight that you can only lift 8-12 times. Now let's say by the 12th repetition (the 12th time you lift the weight), you struggle to lift that weight, then you are definitely working the muscle. In this case, you shouldn't work your bicep hard again the next day. The bicep muscle should have a day off to repair. But, if you are doing bicep curls with 1 pound weights, then you can definitely do exercises using your biceps again the next day. We use our biceps every day but usually in a gentle manner by lifting items out of our fridge, brushing our teeth, opening doors, etc., but we aren't challenging the muscle in these exercises. It's only when we are causing some soreness in the muscle that we then need to give it a day off from more heavy lifting the next day. The same rules apply to all of our muscles. If you do a ton of squats one day and your legs and glutes are really sore the next day then give them the next day off. You could still work your upper body the following day just as hard. It should never be painful, but you do want to feel the work in your muscles...a little bit of soreness is a good thing. Pain is not.
Anyone at any age can start lifting weights and everyone can benefit. The main thing is to start with light weights for the first 1-2 weeks and then start challenging the muscles more with heavier weights. Always maintain good posture and ensure the muscle you want to work is being worked (for example, when doing bicep curls, maintain good posture and ensure you are not swinging your body to get the weight up). Ideally, have a full length mirror in front of you so you can ensure your form is correct. Often we feel we are doing the exercise correctly but seeing our form in the mirror can confirm we are doing it right.
I have created basic strength training workouts for beginners who want to start slowly. You can choose from chair or standing workouts. Find a workout that suits you best and continue to work on challenging your muscles so you continue to build strength. Your body will definitely thank you for it.