After 40, some women begin a sedentary lifestyle and become less active. It is a natural thing for women to lose lean muscle mass after age 40, especially if they stop exercising. To get back in shape and build muscles, women in this age group should do strength training to start building muscles again, improve their coordination and balance and prevent osteoporosis.
It is often said that you need to build muscle to increase your metabolism and tone your body. Strength training will require you to lift weights. Lifting weights will build lean muscles. Eventually, for every pound of muscle that you put on, your body will burn 30 to 50 times more calories daily.
As always, check with your doctor first before you embark on any exercise program and diet change, especially if you are taking prescription medicine, have any kind of heart problem, problems with joints and bones, have diabetes, high blood pressure, overweight and a smoker.
Here are some exercise tips to build those lean muscles:
- Start with aerobic exercises for about 10 minutes to warm your muscles to prevent pulling and tearing as well as increase your oxygen intake and pump your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Try to do up to three sets of each exercise with 10-12 repetitions and take a 2-minute rest after each set. Follow this up with stretching exercises targeting each muscle group.
- Plan and schedule your exercise program. Instead of isolation training where you focus on specific muscle groups, opt for a basic compound program that is aimed at all the muscle groups. For your age group, do strength training 2-3 times a week. Strength training requires intense effort for shorter periods while flexibility exercises will tone you muscles.
- Learn the proper technique of strength training. Start with lighter weights and as your body adjusts, then move on to heavier weights. You just need to tone your muscles, not bulking them.
- Combine your strength training with proper diet rich in carbohydrate, good fats and protein. Drink plenty of water as well to keep your muscles and tissues hydrated particularly when you exercise.
- Focus on strengthening your upper back and shoulders as protection against poor posture later. Females are prone to knee injuries, so focus on strengthening your hamstrings too.
- Engage in other physical activities that take the form of cardiovascular exercises such as walking, bicycling, gardening, swimming or ballroom dancing for overall balance.
- Get enough rest and sleep to help your body recover. Muscles build when you are resting and sleeping.
- Do not do strength training when you feel sore to prevent further injury. Take time to heal and find substitute activities.
- Eat small meals frequently, up to 5 times a day. This will help your metabolic process function better and build lean muscles. You are burning calories as you train so you need to replenish your energy supply. Eat a few hours before you train and eat again after your training.
The benefits of exercising and good diet are undisputed. Exercise not only keeps you fit and healthy, tone your muscles and gives you a good form, it also removes stress and you feel good about yourself. Whenever you embark on a new exercise routine, make it a point to check with your doctor and seek the help of a professional trainer for advice in planning your exercise program as well as the recommended diet for your age group.