Tired of Covid19 updates? Then check this out —> There is exciting new research on strength training for women, specifically for women over 40.
Here’s how we use this to help our clients at True 180 Personal Training (check out our Virtual Page!), and how you can implement these ideas for yourself as well.
Before we get to the news we need to go over a few key definitions that will be essential to unpacking the research findings:
#1. Volume: volume = reps x sets x load or intensity.
- Reps is the number of repetitions. If you were doing 10 push ups at once, then you did 10 reps.
- Sets are collections of reps, so repeat those push ups 3 times and you’ve done 3 x 10.
- Load in the push ups would be your bodyweight, and, that might be modified by doing them at an incline, assistance, and/or adding extra.
Quick point on intensity or load: Just because something feels harder doesn’t mean that it is “more intense.”
- For example, doing what would be easy exercise at room temperature feels very, very hard in a heated room.
- It doesn’t feel harder because you are burning extra calories, it feels harder because your muscles cells are literally trying to avoid death.
#2. Frequency: frequency is simply how often a given body part or movement pattern is trained. Bodybuilders use body parts splits where they focus on 1-2 muscle groups at a time. In this scenario if you can only workout 4 times per week, then you will only be able to stimulate your muscles once a week. (We don’t use body part splits because we feel lucky if our clients train 3 times a week… in other words, we live in the real world.)
️Back to the News:
️The biggest challenge in holding onto the muscle you have in women over 40 is the decrease in estrogen levels. Increasing the volume and frequency of strength training has been show to be effective in combating this problem. For every day of strength training that a woman adds to her schedule research shows that there’s a 1.3% decrease in body fat and this is regardless of energy consumption as well.
The good news is that women at any age have better strength endurance and faster recovery within their workouts than men. In other words women’s bodies are built to be able to tolerate this increased training volume.
#1. Do total body strength workouts 2-4 days per week. 2 is good and 3 is usually better, especially with age. We like to set our programs up like this.
Total body allows you to maximize frequency and intensity: for example, if you do a “chest” workout with 3 different “chest” exercises on one day your energy levels in those muscles will drop off big time. As those body parts get excessively tired your intensity goes down, which drags down your overall volume. Excess fatigue also makes all exercises more risky.
#2. Add an extra set for medium and high rep work: when we used to have male clients we would only do 2-3 sets of exercises in the 12-20 rep range, however, once past the beginner stage, our female clients have no problem doing 3-4 sets.
#3. Add in some “emotional exercise” at the end of your workout: if you still have time and energy feel free to add a pair of isolation exercises that target an area that needs some more help or that you simply enjoy. For a lot of our clients that is “buns and guns”
(butt and arm work), or upper back and hip work to improve posture and take stress off our knees and backs.