Hot Flash: Must Do Weight Bearing Exercises for Women Over 50

By Barbara Bishop

I keep hearing about how weight training can help you lose weight faster than just dieting and aerobic exercise. It’s nothing new. But I haven’t had such great experiences with weights; in particular, the people who helped me to train.

I could write a book on all my adventures with personal trainers. I had a weight trainer that wanted me to look like a football player, (probably because he was an ex-football star with UCLA), one that wanted to blow off the work out and smoke pot, and one that usually showed up still drunk or with a vicious hangover from partying all night, and wanted me to join her. The list could go on.

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I then switched from weight training to running. I had a fantastic trainer who rid me of my fear of running. He was awesome. He had me run for 1 minute, then two minutes three minutes, and before long, I was running three miles each workout and lost 30 pounds!

The trouble came when, because I was so confident, that I starting to train for a marathon. My big mistake was not combining weight training with my running to strengthen my body. From all the marathon training, I herniated a couple of disks in my back. My running came to a screeching halt, after building up enough stamina to complete an 18-mile run. Never did do that frickin’ Marathon.

After months of no exercise, going to several physical therapists (who did nothing for me) gaining back all the weight and then some, I’m going to incorporate weight training into my fitness regime.

Right now, I walk at least a half-hour every day (Zoey, my Maltese, makes sure of this), do yoga regularly (ok, semi-regularly) and take ballroom dance classes on a regular (ok, semi-regular) basis.

I asked a no-nonsense weight trainer with more than 30 years of experience to give my readers (and me!) recommendations for the must-do weight-bearing exercises for women over 50.

He told me that weight-bearing exercises are extremely important for women to combat the muscle loss that naturally occurs because of aging. Did you know that by the time a woman turns 50, she’s lost about 20 pounds of muscle? (Yeah, no shit.)

The top three exercises he recommends that all women over 50 do weekly are the following:

  1. Seated Leg Press – works the glutes and thighs. Comparable exercises are lunges and squats.
  2. Seated Pull-Downs – works back and biceps. You could also use a seated rowing machine to get the same effect.
  3. Chest press – works chest, shoulders and triceps. The bench press or push-ups is a comparable exercise.

Weight-bearing exercises should be limited to two times a week at the most.

For each exercise, do three sets of each, 10-15 repetitions per set. Use light weights; enough to feel the exercise but not too much to injure yourself.

It takes 48 hours for muscles to recuperate from a workout. During those 48 hours, eat more lean protein to help the muscle rebuild and get stronger and to get plenty of sleep.

Ok ladies! Only two days a week and you will have arms, firmer boobs, leaner legs and a tighter hiney!

Let’s do this!

Portrait of a cheerful senior woman holding dumbbells