As we age, we slowly lose the muscle mass we’ve naturally had for so many years. Doctors and researchers believe this decline starts sometime in our 30s, estimating we lose about three to five percent every decade. There are ways to help, though. We can build up our strength through exercises like weight lifting.
Women who discover strength training repeatedly share how much it can help them overall. Personal trainer Alicia Wang has seen this time and time again with her own clients for the past 20 years. Here, she lays out then benefits that prove it might be time to give weight lifting a try.
It can help you increase your metabolism and burn more fat.
It’s common to think cardio is most important when it comes to working out. Yet, cardio alone usually isn’t enough to see results.
“I have often witnessed women start with the typical all-cardio workouts only to find themselves working really hard and not getting the results they were seeking,” Wang says. “Too much cardio can wreak havoc on our neural systems. On a hormone level, you will increase human growth hormone as well as testosterone after exercise, which will help build muscle. This additional muscle will contribute to an increase in metabolic rate.”
Wang says it’s important to remember that this doesn’t always translate on the scale since muscle can weigh more than fat. But the bonus is your body will be more muscularly dense. “Regardless of the scale, more muscle and less body fat means the body will take up less space,” she says. “More importantly, your body will be stronger!”
It can help strengthen your bones and prevent future injuries.
Osteoporosis impacts more than 10 million Americans and more than 80 percent of those are women. Since women tend to have smaller bones than men, as they get older, they’re more likely to break. One way to help this is through strength training.
Many studies have shown that this can help slow bone loss, and some experts say it can even help build bone. Of course, if you’re starting at a place where you have injuries, sensitives, etc., you should consult a professional before working out. But this might be just the thing to get you stronger all the way to the bone.
It can give you back some tone and shape to your body.
Wang says this myth has been well rebutted over the years, but it’s worth mentioning again — weight lifting doesn’t make you “bulk up.”
“Women do not have to fear getting huge muscles by lifting weights,” she says. “We simply do not have the same testosterone levels as men.”
She says working on strength can go a long way to help give women some tone and shape back. Plus, it’s not always about lifting dumbbells. She says she also encourages people to try all sorts of strength training, including bodyweight training, calisthenics, Animal Flow, martial arts, etc.
“The beauty in using our own body weight to strength train is that it is always accessible and does not require a gym or equipment,” Wang says.
It can improve your mental health and overall well-being.
Wang says this is her favorite benefit because she’s seen how powerful it can be for women. Often, weight training helps them see they can do things that they never thought possible before.
“Sure, we know lifting weights will make our muscles and connective tissues stronger and more resilient,” Wang says. “But the deeper, and, in my opinion, more meaningful muscles that are strengthened include our minds and our ability to show up and carve times for ourselves.”
Wang likes to tell her clients to think of it as a self-care muscle.
“Each time we lift a weight it is an embodiment of what it means to lift ourselves up. To truly show up for us,” she says. “There is power in becoming stronger, feeling like we can take up our space, take care of ourselves and also others, a direct result of lifting heavy things.”
So if you haven’t tried lifting weights before, this might be the time to test it out. Like Wang mentioned, there are so many different options out there, including using your own body weight and just a few items in your own home gym. Maybe it’ll be the thing that gives you the boost you need to get to your next goal.