Strength training is a vital component to the exercise regiment of anyone who wants to build muscle mass and burn fat. If you are a woman over the age of 40 then regular strength training takes on a whole new meaning to your overall well-being. Women in this age group tend to fight an ongoing battle of muscle loss, which makes maintaining ideal weight and retaining current strength even more of a challenge.
Muscle mass can be improved by using your own body weight for resistance training. A popular way to achieve this is by doing push-ups. Push-ups can be done with the help of bending your knees to the ground if needed. They can also be done up against a wall if you have problems bearing the full weight of your body on your hands. Start our by trying to do two sets with 10-15 push-ups in each set. As you get stronger you can vary the type and number of push-ups that you include in each set. These strengthening exercises can be performed anywhere and will go a long way towards retaining upper body strength.
Squats are another exercise that can be done without additional weights. You can begin by standing with you feet shoulder width apart and lower yourself into a seated position without allowing your knees to push forward past your ankles, keeping the movement as fluid and straight up and down as possible. You can use a chair to help with balance as needed. Start out by doing two complete sets of 10-12 reps. As you get stronger you can hold your squat in the seated position on your final rep for several seconds before standing back up.
Another weight bearing exercise that can build muscle is the lunge. First, step forward with your right leg about 2-3 feet from the stationary foot then lower your body up and down slowly, again using a chair for balance if needed. Make sure that your front shin is perpendicular to the ground and keep your torso upright. Repeat this up and down movement, using mostly the ball of your stationary foot, on one leg 10-12 times and then switch legs for two full reps. As you gain strength and balance you can hold barbells in both hands to add more weight resistance while you do the lunges.
Lunges can be performed on a more advanced level by alternating legs as you move across the room. Do not attempt the more advanced type of lunges until you have mastered the balance and strength required for the basic lunge. Lunges are effective because of multi joint involvement and muscle involvement. When you do this exercise the right way you will feel the effects throughout your entire lower body.
A great way to increase strength throughout your core muscle area including your abdomen and your back is to practice the plank. Lie face down and rest on your forearms with the palms of your hand flat on the floor, get ready to do the plank. Next push off the floor and rise up on to your toes while holding your body weight up on your elbows and forearms. Do your best to keep your back flat by tilting in your pelvis and tightening your abdomen. This should keep your rear end from dropping down or sticking up. Start by holding this position for at least 20 seconds and repeat for 3-5 reps. As you get stronger try holding the plank position for a full 60 seconds on each rep.
Remember that it doesn’t take expensive equipment or gym membership to begin adding weight training exercising into your weekly routine. These types of weight bearing moves are recommended to be included 2 – 3 times a week in order to prevent muscle loss and retain strength for all middle-aged women.
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