If Kettlebell classes send shivers down your spine and the free weights area at your local gym is a strictly no-go zone, we’ve got news for you – it could be the secret to turning back the clock. We know, it’s intimidating – the grunting, bulging muscles and string vests (yep, they’re still there, we’ve seen them!) is enough to send anyone running for the nearest cardio class. But research has shown that pumping a little iron can shift stubborn lbs, improve bone and joint health and stave away mental health disorders. So, jump off the treadmill and pick up a dumbbell as we tackle the hurdles stopping you from embracing your new anti-ageing regime.
Rolling back the years
Lifting heavy weights may seem like the last thing you should be doing as you get older – especially when people start rushing to your aid at the hint of an overloaded shopping bag, but studies have shown that it can prevent some of the typical problems associated with ageing. “The benefits of lifting weights are ten-fold.
Not only can you build strong and lean muscle mass and reduce the chances of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, which is very prevalent as we age,” says Charlie Turner, co-founder of premium and natural protein and supplements brand Neat Nutrition (neat-nutrition.com). “As we mature, many of us lose muscle mass and this is true for both women and men. Weight training can help keep your muscles strong and helps increase and maintain muscle mass which is important for day-to-day movement as we get older.” Once considered a vanity exercise, strength training isn’t just for the beach bums and body builders anymore – and Mila Lazar, head of HIIT at Another_Space gym (anotherspace.london) has the science to prove it. “By incorporating weightlifting into your routine you lower levels of myostatin (a hormone that regulates muscle growth, in short, the higher myostatin means less muscle) and increases the size and strength of muscles,” she tells us. “Overall, a decrease in myostatin and an increase in muscle mass helps us during the ageing process so we feel fitter, stronger, leaner and happier – and this all makes us feel younger.” Sounds good to us. Although ageing is inevitable, the symptoms of time can be lessened with an easy weight training programme. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 150 minutes of strength workouts each week can cut your risk of diabetes by 34 percent, improve balance, heart health (expect a 20 percent decrease in blood pressure) and back pain. No excuses then!
Finding the balance
If you’re a cardio queen, this may seem like bad news but there’s room for both. “There are benefits to both cardio and weight training to help maintain a healthy body as you age,” Charlie says. “Cardiovascular exercise gets your heart rate up and increases blood flow around the body, helping to keep you fit. Your heart is one of the most important muscles in the body and like other muscles, it needs to be worked to keep it strong. Cardio is also proven to keep your metabolism revved up, and diabetes under control. That being said, lower intensity exercise such as weight training is kinder on the joints and is fantastic for maintaining muscle and bone strength. In today’s age, more people are doing HIIT regularly, which is great but if done too much at a very intense rate it can have long term effects on bones and joints.”
Hitting the weights may build a strong body, but what about losing inches? Running a 5k here and there may have the scales tipping in your direction, but you might be losing more than you bargained for. “When you’re losing weight through cardio only, you’ll lose muscle and fat. Ideally, adding in a weight training aspect will counteract this but if you don’t, you could actually be slowing down your metabolism by losing lean muscle mass, rather than revving it up, Mila explains. “Cardio is helping the cardiovascular system but it fails to work as many muscles and it can actually contribute to muscle loss instead of fat loss. Decreasing body volume through strict diets and hours of cardio won’t have as much an impact in fat loss than lifting weights. It also helps myofibrillar development of the muscle which results in an overall increase of calorie burning and metabolism speed.”
Your weightlifting fears busted
With a mere 21 percent of women strength train two or more times a week, YF is here to put your dumbbell dread to rest
Strength snag #1
“The weights area is full of men”
We may interact with the opposite sex on a daily basis – at the school gates, the corner shop, the office – yet, throw one in the mix at the gym and we clam up. But things are on the change and Mila suggests we look closer as women are #girlbossing their way to the weights. “The weightlifting area for years has been a male dominated space on the gym floor – it’s very intimidating to stand around men that are lifting very heavy weights. Women have possibly seen that area as a scary one where they will be judged and never felt comfortable trying it which has led to this negative perception and causing women to be afraid of lifting weights. It may have been a man’s world in the gym but nowadays you can find more women in the weight area than a few years ago,” she says.
Strength snag #2
“I want to be lean but I don’t want to be bulky”
Ah the number one reason us ladies won’t step our new season sneaker into the weight room. And the answer is simple – it’s impossible. “Women have 10 to 20 times less testosterone – the hormone needed to build muscle – than men. You’d also need to be consuming a lot more calories than you burn,” Charlie explains. “Weight training will not make you bulky, it will make you strong and lean and is effective for fat loss. The same also applies for protein shakes but that’s a whole other story!”
Strength snag #3
“I don’t know what I want to do”
You’ve made it! Now what? Putting together a simple exercise plan is the next step to ace your weight training workout. We would always advise that you speak to a member of your gym to talk you through a routine to make sure your form and weights are correct. But, in the meantime, grab a couple of dumbbells and try Charlie’s easy five-step plan.