Inspiration and info for midlife women who lift—or want to start

Category: Health & Physiology

How strength training affects our bodies, and fits into the bigger picture of our overall health, especially as we age.

Woman with insomnia, maybe suffering with menopause, lying in bed with a pillow over her head, anxious and upset because she can't sleep.

My Insomnia Battle

Hello, dear reader. You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven’t posted any new content here for quite a while… much longer than I intended or wanted.

This has not been due to lack of desire to post. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It’s been the result of hitting a metaphorical brick wall: wicked and at times intractable insomnia.

Set of dumbbells increasing in size to illustrate the importance of progressive overload in building muscle.

Progressive Overload: The Key to Building Muscle

New lifters often spin their wheels because they don’t understand one of the most important principles of building muscle: progressive overload. 

I hear from so many beginners who say “I’ve been working out for months but I’m not seeing any changes.” Leaving aside other factors–for example, sometimes not eating enough protein–a big reason for this when we start digging into their routine is a lack of progressive overload.

Assortment of protein-rich foods

How Much Protein Do I Need?

“How much protein do I really need to be eating, and what should I eat to get it?” 

I hear this question from new lifters a lot, especially from women. 

Many women (including me!) initially start lifting to change the way they look, and tend to dramatically underestimate how much protein they need, and in fact to eat too few calories in general. No surprise: we’ve heard for our entire lives that less food and endless cardio are the keys to the body we want.

How Lifting Weights Protects Your Heart and Brain

In parts one and two of this series on the benefits of strength training over 40, we talked about preventing frailty and osteoporosis. But did you know lifting weights also helps protect your heart and your brain?!

The four stages of osteoporosis

Lift Weights to Prevent Osteoporosis

In part one of this series on why strength training is critical in midlife, we talked about muscle loss, or sarcopenia. Muscle loss affects both men and women, not equally, but significantly.

There’s another catastrophic loss that affects females more profoundly than males, especially after menopause.

Yup, we women can add another fun Greek word to the list of things we have to deal with as we age: “osteopenia,” and its uglier relative, “osteoporosis.”

Dumbbell rack in a weightroom

Over 40? 8 Reasons to Lift Weights

In my 30s, I exercised to look good. In my 50s, to stay fit. In my 70s, to stay ambulatory. In my 80s, to avoid assisted living. Now, in my 90s, I’m just doing it out of pure defiance.

Dick Van Dyke

Let’s face it. Many women, especially those of us over 40, find the idea of lifting weights unfamiliar at best, and scary at worst. 

In general, our culture has not historically encouraged girls and women to get strong. Thankfully, the public perception of strength training for younger women and girls has been evolving at a pretty rapid clip over the past 10-15 years. But lifting doesn’t even occur to most older women—think Gen X and up.

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