How to Start Strength Training After 50 – Part I
You may have noticed that this episode doesn’t have any music over the introduction. If you’ve listened to Flipping 50 for a while, you know that most of the episodes do. It’s when I get ideas and no time to send it off to my podcast support team that probably drives my team crazy. But I do believe that sometimes done IS better than perfect or good enough is good enough if the alternative is never doing anything. This is one of those episodes where I was so excited to share things with you … hopefully to inspire you to start strength training if you haven’t been, or to have you start strength training more consistently, or start strength training more effectively … where ever you are, likely if you clicked this podcast this is for you.
Start light if you’re just beginning.
When you start strength training there is no need (or benefit) to lifting heavy. The neural component is responsible for changes in the muscle the first 4 weeks at least. So more weight won’t get more results faster.
Allow your connective tissue to make the necessary adaptations while your brain is flipping on all the switches.
Avoid working the same muscle group two days in a row.
The breakdown during exercise requires the rebuilding and repair of muscle. It is the days of rest & recovery between workouts when you get fit. More rest not more exercise is the answer, particularly after 50 when we each take a little longer to recover than we did. It’s not a limiter to the amount of work or the fitness level you have… unless you ignore recovery.
Work to fatigue.
This tip is one of the absolute most important for women in midlife who want to start strength training. Working the full body with each muscle group reaching fatigue is better for changing body composition than is moving fast and getting tired. Make the distinction between rapid movement that makes you tired and movements that help you reach muscular fatigue at the end of each set.
Eat enough protein to repair muscle.
If you’re going to start strength training you’re going to see and feel some results even if you change nothing else. If you want to take the next step and also change nutrition, you’ll see and feel even greater results. At some point if you don’t have nutrition going for you, your results will plateau.
In the STRONGER program one of the important tweaks we made after the beta test was to include information about how to eat pre and post exercise along with how meals throughout the day can help or hurt your results.
The building block of muscle IS protein. The timing of your protein is more important now than ever. Muscle protein synthesis begins to decline with age. That means that 70-year old needs almost twice as much protein at a meal or post-workout as a 20 year old to reap the same benefits. You can, age is not a limiter here either, as long as you consciously consume protein on a per meal and a post workout basis.
Many older adults, particularly women, halt their ability to increase lean mass and decrease fat because they continue to do the same protocol (sets and repetitions) and the same weight without progressing or changing the stimulation on the muscle. If you’re stopping your set and walking away without having reached fatigue (still with good form), you’ve missed the opportunity to change your body.
When you start strength training you do want a gradual increase to allow your joints and ligaments the opportunity to adapt. You will get to a maintenance phase but that doesn’t mean you’ll maintain the same exercise program. That unfortunately will cause you to regress. The body is too smart and adapts easily.
That’s why in part the STRONGER videos change weekly. The exercises your joints can do are someone limited, but the sequence variations are unlimited. A wise progression keeps getting you progress.
Train in full range of motion.
While some joint issues may suggest appropriate limited range of motion, for the most part you want full range of motion for each muscle group. Free weights or machine weights, including cables often allow this best. Tubing and band exercises have their place, however the elastic property of tubing is so variable that the resistance is not optimal throughout the range of motion. It’s best at only a part of the motion.
Next in this special podcast mini series I’m going to address how to make any strength training exercise more effective once you’ve gone beyond that start strength training space and you’re ready for more, or you just like to have a plan for what’s next!
Until then… if you have a question, leave it below the show notes at flippingfifty.com/start-strength and I would be so grateful if you’ve found value in a tip or confirmation that you are on the right track if you would
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both really help me reach women who have amazing gifts to share so they can get the energy and vitality to do it, and help you surround yourself with women on the same journey.
Let’s start flipping 50 together!