Weight Training for the Over 40’s

Weight Training for the Over 40’s

Weight training for the over 40 group is very important, and women MUST be encouraged to focus on weight training in pretty much the same fashion as men. Luckily it look like they are more and more, and this is why it’s especially important for trainers to have a very in-depth understanding of weight training, and female trainers, and coaches need to get more involved.

Here are some interesting observations and facts:

It has been estimated that close to (if not over) 60% of the global CrossFit membership is women. And in METCON classes, we are seeing these numbers as high as 80%, and METCON, like CrossFit is NOT a lite weight, cardio, “body pumping” kind of program.

Strength training with weights was fourth in the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) fitness trend predictions for 2016 behind wearable tech, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and body weight training.

Take a good look at most gyms now a days, and you’ll notice the weights area is no longer full of only muscle clad men, but men and, increasingly, women with normal to above normal bodies looking toned and happy and doing old-fashioned lifting moves previously reserved for power-lifters, such as kettle bell swings, press ups and bench press lifts.

The celebs do it: Hollywood trainers like Ramona Braganza, and Mike Ryan put Hollywood starts like Hugh Jackman (47) on a regime of traditional lifts and bench presses to get him in shape for the X-Men films. Marilyn Monroe is said to have trained with weights; while Jean Harlow used resistance bands – more Hollywood women are lifting than ever. Cameron Diaz (43), Jennifer Lopez (46), Halle Barry (49)  – all swear by weight training. Even Ramona Braganza herself looks terrific at over 50 years old.

Ramona Braganza

Ramona Braganza from last year, and over 50 years old.


Halle Berry rocking the bikini

Body benefits for over-40s

If preventing middle-aged spread is a priority, strength training is key. Each decade after 30, muscle declines because it has a higher metabolic rate than fat, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, not only during exercise, but also at rest.

“Muscle requires more blood and oxygen to be supplied to it than fat and that increases the energy expenditure the body has to do to maintain it,” explains Professor John Brewer, head of sports and exercise science at St Mary’s University Twickenham.

Lifting workouts such as circuit training may burn about 200 calories while you’re doing them, but unlike cardiovascular exercise such as running, they burn some 25% more additional calories in the first hour following your workout and may keep your resting metabolic rate elevated by 100 calories a day for up to 72 hours afterwards.
It takes a surprisingly short time to build muscle for a beginner.

One large study from the Harvard School of Public Health followed 10,500 US men aged over 40 for 12 years and found that of all the activities they did, weight training for 20 minutes three times a week had the greatest effect on preventing age-related abdominal fat. “Muscle builds up quickly, even from the first session of exercise when you get sore, that minor damage repairs itself and you become stronger,” says Professor Brewer. “Within two weeks you should start to see benefits.”

Weight training can also help to control blood sugar levels in patients with Type-2 diabetes and one meta-analysis concluded that resistance training should be recommended in the prevention and management of Type-2 diabetes.

Moreover, it might help age-related bone loss too, as with age in women comes a decrease in oestrogen, a hormone that helps with calcium production. Studies found that strength training improved bone density in post-menopausal women.

“Previously it was thought only aerobic exercise could deliver positive mood benefits,” says Dr Claire Marie Roberts, a lecturer in sports psychology at Worcester University. “But we now know that resistance and weight training can have the same or better effect on the brain by increasing the production of serotonin, the brain hormone that makes us feel good.”

Research from the University of South Carolina found that women who were put on a twice-weekly programme of resistance training had a staggering 60pc decrease in anxiety levels and lowered levels of irritability in only six weeks. The effect also seemed best after moderate, not intense, strength training.
And while we know all forms of exercise improve depression, a review of 25 randomised controlled trials involving exercise training of depressed patients found strength training had twice the mood benefits that aerobic exercise alone had (though the best result was when patients did both). While studies of depressed patients have also found that those who did strength training improved their sleeplessness.

Strength training taps into the brain’s reward system quickly by stimulating the neural mechanisms that make people feel better.

So it’s very clear that as we get older we need to make sure to focus on weight training as well as all the other many types of exercise.

To learn more about weight training, and programming. Check out our international NAFC or NFPT (NCCA Accredited) fitness certifications.

Some article parts for the independent