I’m a weight lifter, and I’m not afraid of the freeweights, nor the heavy ones. I went to a gym test session at a “girly” gym, and was so annoyed at the girl’s surprise that I was capable of tripling most of her clients’ weight limits. And I haven’t regularly lifted in months. So even now, seriously out of condition, I’m capable of lifting more than most.
Cardio history: In college, I gained more than the typical “freshman 15.” Once I graduated, I was fed up with being insecure about my body. I decided to try Zumba since I liked dancing and wasn’t a big fan of other fitness activities. I fell in love! I went two to three times a week at first. Once I started to feel better about working out, I started doing cycle classes, too. I’d say at that time, I was doing about four to five cardio classes a week. Eventually, I decided to get licensed in both Zumba and cycle and started teaching a few classes a week. I was still intimidated by weightlifting, so I kept to cardio because I was seeing weight loss.
You're right about one thing, though: training with weights will increase your lean muscle mass. That's a good thing! The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. The more calories you burn, the leaner you'll get. Increased muscle mass will also add shape to your arms, take inches from your tummy, and even add some roundness to your booty! When women's magazines talk about "tone," they're really talking about strong muscles.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to happen! The word “sedentary” is key. Strength training is important for everyone, but after 50 it becomes more crucial than ever. It ceases to be about big biceps or flat abs but rather takes on a tone of maintaining a strong, healthy body less prone to injury and illness. The important benefits of strength training after 50 include:
Begin with three weight-training sessions each week, recommends Joe Dowdell, founder and co-owner of the New York City gym Peak Performance. For the greatest calorie burn, aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time—for example, squats, which call on muscles in both the front and back of your legs, as opposed to leg extensions, which isolate the quads.
Why she switched: I switched because I started seeing and reading a lot more about women doing squats and dead-lifting, and they weren’t huge or extremely bulky, and I became very interested in trying this. Then I found Instagrammer Jen Selter (queen of squats) and admired her figure, so I followed her and began doing squats and absolutely loved the results I was seeing. As I get older, or any woman in their 40s, we will start losing muscle and I want to prevent this as much as possible. Squatting and dead-lifting have given my legs and butt a lot of shape and muscle definition.
How her body has reacted: Since making the switch, my body composition has changed drastically. It is something I didn’t notice right away and I truly still don’t understand how drastically it has changed until I look at pictures and see how much leaner my body is and how much stronger I am. I have more energy outside of training, which leaves me in a good mental space to focus on eating healthfully to fuel my body properly.
There are some things on here that you can do from home if you own the equipment, such as I do, but there are some things you cannot do without going to a gym… because who really owns a Leg press in their home? That is why there are alternatives to almost ANY exercises such as using resistance bands instead of cables for the cable curls, etc. Tweak the program to best suit your needs!
HIIT cardio is the most effective for fat-burning, and it's actually really easy to do. Choose a cardio machine, a piece of equipment like a Kettlebell, or just use your bodyweight. The point is to do intervals of movement as intensely as you can. At first, go for something like 30 seconds of work followed by one minute of rest. Do these intervals for 20 minutes. As you get better, you can increase the work time and decrease the rest time.
When you strength train, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen (generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ effect). What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.