Let’s go back to the basics. What is the good old NHS website saying?
Adults should do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles on at least 2 days a week.
I only ventured onto this website while studying towards my Personal Trainer Diploma. (Crazy, huh?) I was physically active all my life (I’ve been a semi-professional volleyball player for a good decade) but after finishing my Uni, my physical activity took on more of a random phase. Yes, I did running and cycling, gym classes and tons of yoga. But there was never really a proper schedule or thought put into it. Even when training with my personal trainer at some point in my life (for about 4 years to be specific) – I didn’t quite understand why I was asked to perform this or that exercise. No proper weekly or monthly plan was ever organised for me. What about you? Do you have a training plan or just randomly hop from one fitness class to another? I mean, clearly, as long as you move, it’s fine but…
I have to say, I’m not a spring chicken any more. I’ve noticed I do get injured more easily. I often get exhausted (I never had to nap during the day!) and my stamina is not as it used to be.
So, it is pretty good timing that I decided to do my PT training. No more random workouts. Let’s put some knowledge behind what, why & how we are exercising.
So, provided you follow the advice on the NHS website and do resistance training 2 times per week. Why?
You Will Be Physically Stronger. Did you know that 40% of women between the age of 55-64 and 45% of women between 65-74, and 65% of women between 75-84 couldn’t lift 4.5 kg! (10 pounds) That’s literally a bag of cat’s food! As a woman, you have few precious natural recourses as important as your muscles. They’re what keep you strong, able, and independent. They’re also frighteningly easy to lose. Around the age of 30, women begin to lose muscle density. Lean muscle mass slips away to the tune of about 3% per decade between the ages of 30-80, while strength declines 30% between the ages of 50-70 and takes a major nosedive after that.
You Will Be Mentally Stronger. Strength training (and exercise in general) decreases depression because the act of exercise produces mood-improving neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
You Will Have More Oomph. Studies have shown that lifting heavier weights is the best form of exercise to boost testosterone. As muscle mass increases, it will trigger the body to produce more testosterone. Testosterone is often perceived as the ‘bad boy’ of hormones, but without it, you won’t have enough oomph to get out of bed.
Your Resting Metabolic Rate Will Rise. Or at least you will be counteracting its decline, as that is what happens when we get older. That is why a lot of women struggle to keep the weight off while ageing. As your lean muscle increases, so does your resting metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day. As the professional body builder Kim Constable (aka The Sculpted Vegan) says: The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, and the more food you can eat. When I started training I was only eating 1200 calories a day and was terrified to eat more in case I put on fat. Now I eat 3000 calories a day and maintain 17% body fat in off-season, dropping to 10-12% when dieting for a show. How do I eat so much and still stay lean? A fast metabolism. I was not born with a naturally fast metabolism, but instead had to build one.
Just like you can change your shape with muscle, so you can change your metabolism. A body with more muscle will naturally have a faster metabolism because muscle is very calorie hungry. It requires a constant supply of nutrients to keep it alive, drawing from either food or fat energy. A body with more muscle will also naturally burn fat more quickly than a skinny body with no muscle. When you are skinny fat (slim with very little muscle tissue), your body doesn’t want to give up its fat stores as it knows that they may be needed for energy at some point in the future. So it will be more likely to convert muscle tissue into amino acids for energy, than risk burning off precious fat stores. This is why many people put on all the weight they have lost after an extreme period of dieting. The body has no muscle to feed with the extra calories, as not only was no muscle built during dieting, but more was probably burned off because of dieting. When your body has no muscle to feed with the food you eat, it simply dumps the extra calories into fat stores.
You Decrease Your Risk of Osteoporosis. Activities that put stress on bones can nudge bone-forming cells into action. That stress comes from the tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength training.
You Will Reduce Your Risk of Injury, Back Pain, and Arthritis. Strength training not only builds stronger muscles but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. For example: strengthening the gluteal muscles can help in eliminating or alleviating low-back and knee pain.
And last, but not least: Weight Training Will Not Make You Bulky. This is a topic for a whole new conversation but in short, lifting weights for 1 hour 2 times per week will NOT make you bulky. It is a FULL TIME JOB to look like a body builder! If it was so easy, every other person would be a walking Schwarzenegger! [Insert an eye-roll].
 The Framingham Disability Study: II. Physical Disability among the Aging. Alan M. Jette, PT, PHD, and Laurence G. Branch, PHD https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.71.11.1211
 Roar – Dr. Stacy T. Sims, PHD
 Jeong UC, Sim JH, Kim CY, Hwang-bo G, Nam CW. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpts/27/12/27_jpts-2015-691/_article