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

Tag: getting started

First Time Going to the Gym? We Were All New Once

The new year is here, and thousands of people all over the world are facing their first time going to the gym. 

You may be one of these folks. Maybe you’ve decided this is the year you’re finally going to get started with strength training. You may be preparing to pick up dumbbells or a barbell for the very first time. 

If so, way to effing GO! I’m so proud of you!!

On the other hand, maybe you’re an old hand who practically lives in the gym. If so, you may be dreading the impending onslaught of new members, because you’ve been here before. You’ve watched newcomers wander around aimlessly, overwhelmed and unsure what to do, looking baffled as they try to figure out what this machine is for and how to adjust the seat on that one. 

Whichever you are, I’m talking to you: veteran and newb alike. There are some things we all need to remember at this time of year.

Let me tell you a story. 

Female athlete using foam roller to alleviate muscle soreness, DOMS

I’m Not Sore—Do I Need To Work Harder?

My question is, how come I haven’t been getting sore? I’ve been lifting heavier, getting my protein in, but the last few weeks I only feel sore or tender sometimes. Makes me wonder if I’m not working hard enough, but it feels like I am when I’m in the gym!

Soreness is absolutely NOT the measure of how hard you’ve worked!

The underlying biology of delayed onset muscle soreness, which typically hits 12-18 hours after exercise and is often called “DOMS” by lifters) is not very well understood, but we do know it’s the result of microscopic muscle damage (which is how we get muscles to grow) and that a few specific scenarios tend to cause it.

Stop Procrastinating: Start with Just One Thing

You can’t do everything, but you can do one thing, and then another and another. In terms of energy, it’s better to make a wrong choice than none at all. You might begin by listing your priorities—for the day, for the week, for the month, for a lifetime. Start modestly. List everything you want to do today or tomorrow. Set priorities by dividing the items into A, B, and C categories. At the least, accomplish the A items. Try the same thing with long-term goals. Priorities do shift, and you can change them at any time, but simply getting them down in black and white adds clarity to your life, and clarity creates energy.

George Leonard, Writer and Aikido teacher, in his book Mastery
Personal trainer teaching client to deadlift.

How to Start with Lifting Weights

“How do I start with lifting weights?”

I get this question over and over again. It’s probably the question women ask me the most.

So I’m taking a brief detour from talking about the myriad benefits of strength training for women (and men) over 40. We’ll come back to those, because there are lots more to cover. But given how often this question comes up, I think it requires some attention.

I’m convinced that intimidation/confusion holds far too many women back from lifting (along with myths like “I’ll get big and bulky” and “I’ll hurt myself”.)

If you’re already strength training, I’ll bet you know someone else in this position and have gotten the same question. If you’re not already lifting, maybe you’ve heard enough to decide it makes sense to start, but aren’t sure how to go about it.

There is no “right way” to start with lifting weights

Contrary to what people may tell you, there is no single “right” way to start strength training. 

There is only a right way FOR YOU. 

Sunrise over the trees in Vermont

A Single Step

I may earn a small commission for purchases made using links in this post. I only recommend items I know, use myself, or have otherwise vetted.

I got up early this morning.

This is, for me, quite an accomplishment.

I am NOT naturally a morning person. I’ve been a night owl as long as I can remember. If left to my own devices with no clocks and no responsibilities, I’d be one of those vampires (along with teenagers) who goes to bed at 4 a.m. and wakes up at 11.

In fact, I DID that my freshman year of college. I purposely never had a class before 11:30 a.m, and I routinely stayed up until 4 a.m. doing my work.

I love the quiet of the night; it makes me feel creative and full of possibilities.

Or it used to. That kind of life hasn’t been viable for a long, long time, thanks to kids and day jobs.

But I digress.

There’s a reason I’m telling you about my sleep habits.

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