Muscle Training For Women. Why is It Important With Aging? 5 Myth Busters.

A guide for the protocol that can be followed for muscle training in women.

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]xercising regularly is a proven way to improve your health and well-being, as well as your strength and muscle mass. Did you realize that muscle training can slow down the aging process? This article covers all you need about muscle training and its benefits for young and aging women.

But first…

Why is it Important to Build Muscle? 

Men and women both lose muscle mass at a rate of roughly 8% per decade beginning around age 30 and accelerating to 15% per decade beginning around age 50. It can become quite obvious when a person reaches age 80, raising the risk of bone fractures and falls and reducing life satisfaction.

muscle training and loss over age

It’s commonly believed that women can no longer gain muscular mass after a certain age. Age-related sarcopenia, or muscle loss, is the underlying problem from which this fallacy originates. Although sarcopenia is inevitable, it need not be the end of everything.

Aging effects on women

Muscle strength is one area where women typically fall short of their male counterparts. Some of the differential effects of aging on the genders can be attributed to the hormonal changes that occur after menopause. Menopause’s estrogen deficit exacerbates the bone density loss that comes with aging. The resulting osteoporosis can affect a woman’s ability to maintain her balance or walk, increasing the likelihood of sustaining an injury. (1)(2)

Recent research has also linked the hormonal changes associated with menopause to an increase in cartilage deterioration, which in turn raises a woman’s risk for developing osteoarthritis.

Researchers compared 46 women ages 60-74 and 75-90 to evaluate how exercise affects aging. According to the study, older women who engage in a high degree of daily physical activity may be able to reverse certain signs of aging, such as reduced walking and diminished function.

According to other studies, women aged 50 and more can benefit from muscular training.

  • Stronger bones.
  • Reduced risk of falls.
  • Improved balance.
  • Better memory/focus.
  • Prevention from urinary and pelvic problems.
  • Balanced glucose and blood pressure levels.
  • Prevention from many age-related chronic diseases.
  • Improve sleep quality.
  • Relieve pain, and improve posture and balance.
  • Better and strong appearance.

Consequently, you’ll have more energy for things like socializing, daily activities, and generally working out.  Physical activity and exercises not only help you maintain a youthful appearance and state of mind, but it also retards the aging process. While all types of physical activity have some anti-aging benefits, muscle training is particularly effective.

An introduction to the effects of aging on the muscles and how exercise can counteract those effects. Read it in detail here.

But some myths are associated with muscle training for young and aged women.

Myths About Muscle Training for Women.

Do not have these myths and misconceptions about developing muscle for women hinder you.

1- Muscle training is for young women. Which is totally a  wrong approach. According to studies, a muscle may be developed at any age, even in advanced age.

2- Muscle Turns into fat later: No data suggests muscle is converted to fat when exercise and healthy food are discontinued. When you have increased muscle mass, your metabolism is faster and burns more calories, which may assist in avoiding fat accumulation. Even if you stop exercising, you can continue to build muscle anytime you resume weight training.

2- Long & Lean feminine muscles: No, there is no unique strategy for creating feminine-looking muscles. The trick is not to build muscle everywhere but to target select areas, so they gain the right amount of muscle. Additionally, becoming “toned up” can only be accomplished by reducing overall body fat (if needed).

3- Lifting weights are not for women: Women avoid weightlifting because they fear it will make them fat. These stereotypes about women and weightlifting aren’t true. One of the keys to developing strong muscles, regardless of gender, is lifting enough, securely, and within your limitations.  In fact, Currently, 47% of USA Weightlifting members are female, up from 17% in 2007.

4- Women should do more reps and fewer weights: Some research suggests that women have more Type I slow-twitch endurance muscle fibers than males, but there is no data that they should only perform high repetitions.

Goals of Muscle Training.

The main goals of muscle training in women lie in the following points,

  • To slow down the decline in muscle mass.
  • Improve posture while improving strength, lean muscle mass, endurance, and flexibility.
  • Upper-body and lower-body strengthening, as well as strengthening around the hips and knees.
  • To be able to perform daily tasks without having to make accommodations for her injury.

Implementing a Muscle Training Routine

muscle training

Beginning or sticking to a regular fitness routine is difficult for people of any age, and it doesn’t get any simpler as you age. It’s normal to feel down about your health if you’ve been dealing with symptoms like chronic discomfort, sore muscles, or worries about potential damage from taking any risk.

Full-body strength training has been shown to help premenopausal women maintain bone mineral density, or bone strength, in research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Physical Fitness in 2013.

If you’ve never worked out before, you might be intimidated by the prospect, unsure of where to begin, or convinced that you’re too old or fragile to achieve the same results you saw in your younger self. Maybe you don’t like to work out since it’s tiresome.

Women of all ages should build a firm foundation by focusing on structural integrity, movement patterns and technique, and muscle memory in the first training phase.

1) “Movement of any weight over “resistance” (including your body weight) — Any workout that pushes your muscles beyond of their comfort zone, causing them to rebuild stronger.

2) Progressive overload: constantly lifting more or performing one more rep than last time. Your muscles must adapt and get stronger. Muscle strength, even in the elderly old, can be increased with progressive resistance training, according to a significant body of research.

How to perform? If you’re just getting started with muscle training, it’s better to split your body into upper and lower muscle groups and work them alternately. After determining your training split, you must then pick which exercises to include in the session.

The first stage in building muscle and strength is strength training. Typical strength training consists of lifting weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and weight plates). It assists in increasing muscular strength. These activities generate significant muscular wear and tear. When you relax or sleep, your muscles re-grow, but this time they are stronger.

There are so many exercises to pick from, but here is a selection of core exercises that will help you gain strength and become more physically fit.

Upper Body. Upper Body Muscles traiining

Upper body includes chest, shoulders and arms. Women’s chest muscles are often quite weak and undeveloped. That is why the majority of women wish to develop their upper-body strength. For that following exercise can be done.

Along with major muscle like lattismus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius, following muscles should be focused.

Deltoids This is mostly utilized for arm rotation and is located on the upper arm near the top of the shoulder. This is the emphasis for many seeking to gain shoulder muscle.
Rotator cuffs There are four muscles and tendons that offer stability and strength during shoulder mobility. They’re involved in almost every shoulder movement, so keeping them strong and flexible is important.
Biceps Biceps brachii serve two purposes. First, bend the elbow, like in the biceps posture. The second is arm movement
Triceps. Their principal function is to stretch the elbow, but the lengthy head also stabilizes the shoulder. As women age, they gain body fat in this area, making triceps strengthening a priority.
  • Chest Fly:  The chest fly is a weightlifting exercise that aids in the strengthening of the chest muscles.
  • Wall Push-ups. These push-ups may strengthen the upper body, emphasizing the arms and chest. However, you need not get on the floor.
  • Chest Bench press: This is the most effective chest workout and can be done with barbells and dumbbells. It works in maintaining muscle mass in the chest and upper body muscles.
  • Push-ups: One of the most famous strength exercises is the push-up. The push-up is an effective full-body workout because it trains multiple muscle groups at once.
Abdominals.abdominal muscle training

Performing hundreds of crunches to develop your abs can enlarge your waist. In addition, crunches cause a bend of the spine, which may damage your posture and raise your risk of back pains. Rotational or twisting abdominal exercises can also cause back pain.

  • There is no such thing as “spot reduction” of fat in particular areas of the body.

Theoretically, anything which engages your transversus abdominis (TA) can reduce your waist size. The idea is to focus on different exercises, as mentioned below.

  • Planks. In addition to strengthening and toning your core muscles – your abdominal and lower back muscles — the plank can also enhance your balance. Planks may also improve your posture, which is beneficial if you spend most of your day sitting on a chair.
  • Push-ups: As already mentioned, push-ups are all-rounder exercises that also focus and train abdominals.

Our back muscles are some of the biggest in the body, and are comprised of

Latissimus dorsi (lats)  assists in shoulder mobility and rotates the arms around the sides and behind the body.
Rhomboids help in drawing the shoulder blades together and down
Trapezius also assists in bringing the shoulder blades together and down, as well as lifting and rotating them.
Erector Spinae essential for posture, keeping the back stretched and erect, and the body stabilized.

back muscle trainiing

    • After menopause, women are more prone to back problems. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which can cause low back pain, and spinal osteoarthritis are more common in women than men because of biological differences and the impact of age, childbirth, and weight gain on the spine. Follwing are few major exercises that can be done to strengthen back in women.
  • Superman: Superman is a fantastic workout for the spine muscles. In addition, this flexible exercise targets the rhomboids and traps, resulting in a taut, powerful back.
  • Conventional Deadlifts: It is a full-body workouts that are good for strengthening the core and lower backThis does require weighted equipment – often a barbell, but dumbbells or kettlebells can also be used.
Lower Body. lower msucle training

Squats, deadlifts, and other lower-body exercises are all fair game regarding muscle training. As a result, you can never get tired of weight training and always find new methods to challenge yourself.

  • Chair squats are another weight-bearing exercise that is simple to perform at home. In addition to toning the lower body, squats can also enhance balance.
  • Walking Lunges: Walking lunges are an excellent exercise for toning your thighs, stabilizing your hips, and activating your glutes.
  • Box Jumps: Dynamic actions like box jumps strengthen the fast-twitch muscular fibers in your calf, hamstring, quad, and glute muscles. You can use a step, bench, or any other sturdy, elevated platform for this workout.
  • Calf Raises: Calf raises are a good way to strengthen your calves and improve your ankle stability, which can help you perform better in plyometric activities like box jumps.

The trick is to ease into the muscle training routine by performing basic exercises you already know how to do and then gradually increasing the complexity and intensity as you get better.

How much to do? The general advice for building muscle is 2 to 3  sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for each exercise.

It is always advised to perform any warm and cool down period before and after any muscle training session. 

Remember, these exercises should be performed at a moderate intensity, utilizing either your body weight or weights that your physical therapist or trainer suggests.

Considerations for Later-Life Muscle Traning.

Strength training is only part of the equation for gaining muscle. Look at these other variables that may come into play and affect your outcomes.

  • Make a Routine. You should consult a doctor before beginning a muscle training schedule. In this way, he or she can determine if there are any musculoskeletal concerns to be aware of. The next step is to connect with a fitness professional to create a weight training plan that integrates aerobic and studio courses with strength training for optimal results.
  • Start Slowly. When beginning a muscle training regimen, the key to success and safety is gradually increasing your fitness level from your present level. Overexercising muscles might result in injury, which can lead to discontinuing the activity. A consistent pace of progress is the optimal strategy in this case.
  • Balance. Strength training can help you keep and even enhance your balance as you age, but it can also have unintended side effects if your balance is off. If you have balance problems, you should adjust your exercise properly to avoid harming yourself.
  • Nutrition. For optimal muscle growth and repair, aim for a diet rich in lean protein, as it’s an essential part of muscle training. 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight) is a piece of typical advice for muscle growth. In addition to supplying carbohydrates, a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help maintain normal bodily function, facilitating healing and promoting well-being.
  • Rest days and Recovery. The negative of aging is that it might take your body longer to recover between exercises. Don’t work the same muscle groups in consecutive exercises. It has been suggested by CDC to have 2-3 days muscle building exercise twice a week with active rest days, in which you go for a walk or focus on mobility, which can increase the quality of your recovery.
  • Keep a Track. Keeping a log of your workouts and settings is an excellent measure of your progress.  You may track your progress on your own, through an app or online tool, or by simply writing it in a diary or sticky notes.
  • Focus on the End Result. Regarding weight training, the quality of your reps is more essential than their quantity. That is why it’s important to focus on your technique with each weighted lunge rather than trying to rush through a set of 100. By doing so, you’ll gain strength and speed while decreasing your risk of injury.
  • Other health Conditions. Injuries, persistent back or knee pain, and other health conditions don’t mean you shouldn’t strength train, but you may need to adapt specific routines to minimize unnecessary stress. A physical therapist or qualified personal trainer should create your muscle training program if you suffer from injuries or medical issues.

A significant delay in physical aging can be achieved in as little as 20 to 30 minutes of doing exercises each day.

How long does it take to build muscle?

Everyone will have a unique range of outcomes in terms of physical fitness. While some people may notice improvements within a matter of weeks, others may have to wait months. The rate you see benefits is also affected by your body type and current fitness level.  A rough estimate calculated via research can be 3.3% of lean muscle mass in 15 weeks of the muscle training program. Some older adults assume they’re too old to attain fitness goals. If you’re serious about building muscle as an older adult and working within your body’s limits, you can get the desired results.

Women have been led to believe incorrectly that they should only engage in cardiovascular exercise and avoid muscle training. But if you want to be truly healthy, muscle training is a great approach to maintaining your fitness and health as you age since it helps you gain new muscle while protecting and preserving the power you already have. Along with planned training, prioritizing recovery is important for maximizing performance. Remember that the next time you’re working up a sweat at the gym, you’re building these muscles. It’s never too late to start training your muscles and love your golden years!


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Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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