Why lifting weights is so important, particularly as you age

Picture in your mind, a pogo stick - who remembers those!? They were great fun! – but as fun as they are, they only have so much life in them before they wear out and stop working properly, likewise, if you leave and forget about them, they’re likely to go rusty and seize up. This is much like the muscles, joint and bones in the human body, with enough wear and tear they start to become a bit knackered and don’t work to their full potential, or worse still, if you don’t use them at all, they seize up on you!

Now, before I go on, I would just like to point out that I’m not against cardio, it’s a great way to keep your cardiovascular system healthy and in good working order, and it’s a good idea to incorporate it into your life, but it’s not the best thing you can do for the muscles and bones in your body. That, my friends, lies within the realms of strength training.

Pounding the streets, or the treadmill is great for building endurance within the muscles, and there may be some of you currently in the midst of marathon training. Brilliant! Crack on, but when it comes to building strong muscles and bones, running won’t cut it.

It’s very important that you take on board what happens to your bones and muscles if you don’t train them with weights, particularly as you age. From our mid-thirties, bone density slowly started to deteriorate, and if left to do so, can lead to osteoporosis (brittle bones that are more likely to fracture and break). Muscles also start to waste away if they are not put under force through regular strength training. Leading to you becoming weak and sooner or later not be able to so all the things you currently take for granted; walking up stairs, opening a letter, getting out of a chair. This might sound dramatic, but just take a snapshot of the older members of society, what do you notice about their ability, or inability to do those every day activities? In my opinion, if we regularly lift weights, we massively reduce the risk of following in their footpaths.

I want to be able to bend (or squat!) down and pick something up from the floor without it being a drama when I’m older and by weight training regularly, I’m giving myself every chance of being able to do just that. I am fully aware there are other factors that can come into play in life and knock us of course, but when you have a choice of doing all you can for yourself, or not, I know which option I would choose. I want to remain independent for as long as possible.

There are many misconceptions that strength/resistance training/weight lifting, whatever you want to call it makes women bulky. Believe me when I tell you that it’s hard enough for men to build a considerable amount of muscle (and they have more of a hormonal capacity to be able to do so) let alone women, so ladies, remove this idea from your mind. You will not become bulky if you lift weights…unless you take steroids!

I understand that venturing into the world of strength training can seem a little daunting if you’ve never done it before, and that’s where I come in. Whether you’re completely new to strength training, or have a little past experience, I will coach you through progressive training programmes that suit your needs. It’s not about being able to lift super-massive weights, the number on the plate is irrelevant. It’s about you giving 100% and really working those muscles. Believe me, you will thank yourself 3, 6, 12 months down the line.

“But Fi, I want to lose weight” – too much emphasis is placed on cardio as a means to lose weight, with a neat little package of strength training and sensible nutrition, you can create the right environment for weight loss, and by regularly training with weights, you will build more lean muscle tissue that will be more efficient at burning calories, even at rest. So why wouldn’t you incorporate strength training into your life?

If this post has got you thinking and you would like to start a strength training programme but aren't sure of the best way to go about it, drop me an email and let's chat about your goals. I can help you get started.