One thing I’ve noticed in the Becoming Elli community is that many of us are looking for ways to get started with strength training. Many women who have joined the Becoming Elli Facebook group (it’s a private group and if you haven’t joined, please do so!) want to get started with strength training.
Most of us know how to do cardio exercises. We use the treadmill or the elliptical or we bicycle indoors and out.
If you listen to the Fit Strong Women over 50 Podcast, you know that we talk a lot about the importance of strength training for women as we age.
Why Strength Train?
We lose muscle more quickly than men and that loss begins earlier than we’d like to think about. Losing muscle makes it harder to keep our metabolism going at a good pace. It makes it harder to move. There are lots of reasons why we should be strength training, also called resistance training. We can go into those reasons in a different post.
There are lots of ways to do strength training, whether you belong to the gym or workout at home but we can all use some help in getting started. You can use weights such as dumb bells, kettle bells, and resistance bands. You can also use your own body weight doing things like squats, push ups, and lunges. Knowing what you can do is, of course, not the same as actually doing it.
Ways to Get Started with Strength Training
I’ve come up with a few ways to help get started with strength training.
Set goals with a timeline related to strength training. While long term goals are great, be sure to include some shorter term goals as well.
Perhaps your long term goal is to be able to do ten regular pushups. That’s a great goal but it may take you a while to get there so make some goals to hit on the way. Perhaps it’s to be able to do ten modified pushups. Then you can make a goal of being able to do one regular pushup. Finally, you hit that long term goal of ten regular pushups.
Invest in Yourself
I find spending money on something is a big motivator. If I pay for a training class, I’m much more likely to go. Perhaps you buy some new weight equipment to include in your home gym. Buying a kettlebell is sure a major investment. Or perhaps you pay to access a strength training app. Or you pay for personal training. Whatever it is, I think most of us do more when we’ve made a financial commitment to something.
Sure, people buy treadmills and gym memberships that they don’t use but I think if you combine the desire to get started with strength training with the financial commitment, you’re more likely to work at it.
Tell people what you’re doing
Tell friends and family member. Confide in your co-workers. If you’re open about wanting to get stronger, you’re more likely to get some support. It helps to tell people who also strength train or workout in some way. I remember telling my mother what I was doing and she really only walked. She told me I didn’t need to be doing this, that walking was enough. So telling your friend at your yoga class might be better.
Do you have friends who are also interested in strength training? If so, try to work out together. If that’s not possible, maybe try comparing workouts and giving each other ideas of things to try. Online communities, such as the private Facebook group for Becoming Elli, can be helpful. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, discussing with like-minded people can help.
If you’ve joined a gym, talk to the staff. There are people there who can show you how to do different exercises or how to use a piece of equipment. Take advantage of that resource.
Try to Improve
Look for ways to improve. I guess this might be related to goals but what I mean is, just be aware of your body and what you’re capable of doing. If last week, you could only carry two plastic bags of groceries, see if you can increase to three this week. If you can do biceps curls with 8 pound dumbbells, see if you can bump it up to 10 pounds.
Give It a Chance
Stay out of your head. Some of us start strength training say we don’t like it. The problem with that is we usually don’t want to do things that we dislike. If you work on having an open mind, you may realize after awhile that you’re actually enjoying yourself. Give it a fair trial. I really work on no longer saying, “I hate this” when doing squats.
We know that strength training is important for us as we age so it’s important to figure out ways to get going with it.
What suggestions do you have? I would love to hear other ideas. Comment below if you have something to share.