Do y’all remember “Mr Steal your grandma” who broke the internet for looking really good for being in his 70s? Never mind the skeletons that emerged from his closet about his personal life, and how he wasn’t actually going to be out trying to steal anyone’s grandma but…I digress. I remember thinking gees – this man physically looks much better than a lot of men my age, and that must come with intensive self-care.
There are many other images of older women in say their 50s and 60s, ripped with toned bodies for days and abs to die for. The likes of Halle Berry and Jada Pinkett Smith have done well for Black Hollywood in showcasing the total “look good factor.” I quite like my curves and celebrate my jiggle, but one thing I consistently work hard at – as inspired by some of these actresses on TV and Instagram accounts, - is trying to keep the fluff off my belly area. It is for this reason ladies, that I made it a point this year to up the ante in incorporating weights into my work out routine.
I will say this, it’s a long hard journey to getting your body tight and right. My weight picked after the birth of my son and at a short 5”4’, I peaked at 92 kilos, literally rolling my way through life at that point. After a lot of self-convincing that I needed to get it together, I embarked on a fairly consistent regiment that allowed me to encounter life in the 65-70 kilo range.
Realising that I had plateaued in terms of weight loss, and had a good bit of hanging skin in the belly and bra-line back area, I joined the league of women who incorporate both intense cardio and strength training into their routine. I also didn’t want to lose my feminine appearance, and was under the impression that you become uber butch if you start using weights as part of your training.
So thought to for the benefit of readers following my weight loss journey over the years, put together a few key facts that may help you shift your misconception on weight training for women, and possibly get you started on getting fit and toned.
1. Strength training helps keep the fluff away.
Muffin top, thigh dimples and the arm jiggle that helps your palm wave good bye? No. I didn’t think too much of it until I started noticing the difference when I added weights to my training. Not only does strength training play a critical role in shedding excess weight through burning more calories, but it also subsequently keeps the weight off. I’ve managed to maintain my weight in the same kilogram range over the past 2-3 years – give or take a kilo or two – by lifting weights at least twice a week. Without it, I’m pretty I would be floating back into the unwanted range on account of my love for food.
2. That thing about being woman and deteriorating bone health and muscle mass with age.
I turn 35 this year and have dreams of being a hot mama turning heads the day I take my kids on their first campus tour. With that – I still have a good bit of work to do then not so? Research studies have shown that after puberty has come in and kicked in all its changes, we proceed to lose approximately one percent of our bone and muscle strength every year. Consequently, it would be prudent to take on strength training as a way to reduce or stop bone and muscle mass
3. Strength training makes you stronger, fitter and more toned.
Show me a woman who doesn’t care for a toned body, and I’ll happily ask her what her alternative ought to be! Don’t you just love on those Travel Noire Conde Nast type images of a woman laid out on a beach staring at the clear blue sea, with not a dimple on her body in sight? If you are wishing that could be you next summer, then strength training, also called resistance training is the way to go. There are two types of resistance training:
Isometric resistance involves muscle contraction against a non-moving object, such as against the floor in a push-up.
Isotonic strength training involves muscle contraction through motion, as you would when lifting weights in a body pump class
Both are equally effective in raising your strength and endurance levels. I recommend alternating these works out as they can take a toll on your body.
4. Strength training improves your flexibility and oh wait…you just look so much nicer.
I bring you back to that beach image – you and your six pack frolicking in the shallow tide. Incorporating weights to my routines has done wonders for my abs and arms. My movement and coordination is getting better and I have far less back aches. I am working hard to build the bigger muscle groups with squats while carrying a bar for firmer thighs and buns. I can’t say it easy and recommend you join a class for this just to get the motivation. Real results begin to show after consistent 3 months’ worth of exercise and the best thing is – your body will thank you as you grow older.
5. Strength training keeps the doctor away
The health and wellness benefits of strength training are well documented, with studies indicating pain reduction in women suffering from arthritic pain should they use weights. Post-menopausal women are able to increase bone density and reduce the risks of bone fracturing that comes with age. On the whole, strength training backed by cardio does keep the doctor away
6. Needing heightened energy levels and a break from mood swings?
I’m not a morning person. Because of how much of a hive of activity my house is in the morning, I have had to schedule my work outs for end of day as opposed to each morning first thing. Working out after work gives me that final boost of energy that allows me to get some admin, writing, studying and planning done for the next morning. I also for some reason get in a much better night’s sleep after a p.m. work out. Doctors say strength training increases your endorphin levels, enhancing how you feel.
7. You want to burn more calories? Add some weight!
My work outs are far more intense now that I’m taking classes like #Bodypump at my neighbourhood gym. I’ve seen better results in shorter period of time and am enjoying the physical transformation, (especially with the dreaded “back meat” and “arm jiggle”), and endurance during my jogs or cardio training.
So there it is ladies – the few reasons why I got started on weights. I used to think I would become this body builder looking woman, but the benefits are far better than just looking like a machine in the gym. Getting your body looking right does wonders for your energy levels, physical appearance and self-esteem! So do share with us fitness hacks that are bringing forward a difference to your life!