Ultimate Guide to Muscle Building: Tips for Women Over 40

Apr 03, 2024



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I'm going to discuss the importance of building muscle as we age and its relationship to fat loss, overall metabolic health, and longevity.

I've been a personal trainer for over 30 years, and back in the day, there wasn't much emphasis on women and building muscle. There were guidelines, but it wasn't until I became certified as a menopause fitness specialist and discovered the newer science for women in midlife and beyond that I understood how important, if not the most important, things we can be doing.

Importance of Muscle Building

What I'm learning about muscle is that it is our longevity organ. When we start focusing on building muscle rather than losing weight, fat loss will happen.

Notice I'm not saying weight loss because we lose part muscle and part fat when we lose weight. Diets that are quick fixes or calorie deficit cause massive muscle loss touted as weight loss, and that, my friend, for women in midlife is dangerous.

It is dangerous for a woman in midlife not to have muscle.

Muscles are imperative for your metabolism, insulin sensitivity, longevity, brain health, mitochondria, and cellular health. Having adequate muscle boosts fat loss, helps you sleep, and is anti-aging and anti-fragility.

Lack of muscle increases frailty and opens one up to diseases. As a mature woman, you must build resiliency, and nothing else works quite as well as building and maintaining muscle.

Muscles increase metabolism, energy expenditure, and calorie expenditure at rest and when working out. It also increases immunity.

Muscle is a mop that sucks out any excess glucose in your body; it's a sponge and is helpful for blood sugar regulation.


Focus on Building Muscle

The good news is that weight and strength training is for the rest of your life. There is no need to cram it in a couple of months. You get to learn, grow, and improve for years to come and always reap the benefits.

I want you to age well and be strong!

If you are just getting started and haven't lifted weights before, this is a great time to start.

Whatever your age, even if you're in your 80s, start now. It is never, never, never too late.

You can always build muscle!


Critical Factors for Muscle Growth

Isn't it amazing that we can always build muscle - when we have adequate protein?

You cannot build muscle well without protein because protein and muscle go hand in hand.

If you're just getting started, do bodyweight exercises.

Next, add light weights and then progressively lift heavy weights.

The only way to build muscle is to break down the muscle fibers by lifting a heavy load and giving your muscles days of recovery.

When you're younger, you can work out every other day, but when you're older, I like a couple of days in between the workouts. Research shows that 72 hours of recovery between weight training sessions is best for menopausal women. Giving yourself ample recovery is going to help with injuries and muscle building.

When you're just starting out, we'll lift lighter while ensuring your form is proper. But the key is to progress, and if you were using three-pound weights for your bicep curls to start out with, that's great, but if you can do 20, 30, or 40 reps with those, you are wasting your time.

We want to increase, and that's why I love getting a trainer. Maybe working with a trainer will help you establish what works for you and then give you a progression.

I love the Trim Healthy fitness workouts, and there are a couple of others that I really like: Lift with Cee (she's on YouTube) and Heather Robertson. I would say I also like hers, but hers are more for women before menopause, with recovery time added.

Whatever it is you choose to do, start building muscle!

Let that be your goal and your longevity commitment to yourself.

It is imperative if you are in weight loss mode. Lifting weights will also help you prepare for growing old.

When we grow old, we get weaker and end up falling, But when you get strong with weight lifting, you are working to prevent frailty.


Continuous Learning and Progression

If you are already lifting and not overloading the muscle properly, you could do 15 repetitions. I suggest going up and adding weights one or two times a week.

If you're not seeing results or not lifting to failure, I suggest adding more weight or volume. That would be more sets, so if you're doing two sets, you jump up to three; if you're doing three sets, jump up to four or add more weight.

Meeting yourself where you are is critical.

Progression is crucial, and remembering that your muscle is your metabolism is also essential. It is your longevity organ, and it is going to help with weight & fat loss,

Weight lifting helps with body composition and with your strength.

Finally, one of the most important things is that we lose bone as we age, but when we lift weights, that muscle pressure against the bone causes our bones to lay down bone cells to create stronger bones.

Every woman in perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause needs to be strength training.




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