Let me set the record straight; ladies, strength training won’t make you bulky.
Too many myths cloud the topics of aging and fitness. They keep people from living a healthy lifestyle, and most come from younger people and society at large.
But there’s one super-persistent myth that people over 50 perpetuate themselves. To be more precise, women over 50 use this falsehood too often to avoid the most important type of exercise they need: strength training.
“I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get all big and bulky.”
Have you ever heard or said something like that? It’s astonishing how this one refuses to vanish. So, let’s take another shot at it here, for those of you out there being held back from your optimal life by a lie.
Why Strength Training is So Important
Strength training is also known as weightlifting or resistance training and it includes using free weights, machines, body weight, and resistance bands.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as bodybuilding in the Arnold Schwarzenegger fashion.
All humans need muscle just to perform basic tasks like standing up or picking something up off the floor, but we lose it if we don’t use it. In fact, common age-related muscle loss (known as sarcopenia) is why we so often see older people struggle to stand up from the couch.
“Sarcopenia is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults,” said Dr. Jeremy Walston said in the National Institutes of Health.
Losing muscle contributes to falls and fractures, and it reduces our strength and mobility for all kinds of tasks. Less muscle can mean more body aches and pains, poorer posture, and losing the ability to live independently. It can also lead to greater insulin resistance, putting you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes.
Sarcopenia is not inevitable. We fight it with strength training so that we can do all kinds of physical activities.
About That Myth
Strength training is easy, empowering and safe at any age with a properly designed program.
Here’s what’s NOT easy: Accidentally getting “big and bulky” like bodybuilders.
It takes intense concentration and effort – in the gym AND in the kitchen – to get big muscles like that. It also takes testosterone and human growth hormone, both of which decline with age. So, there’s no way a healthy dose of strength training will make you “big” OR “bulky,” let alone both.
Avoiding lifting weights because you don’t want to get bulky is a little like saying that you won’t drive a car because you don’t want to be a champion racer.
If you exercise regularly with resistance, you will have more muscle mass to feel, move and look better. Resistance training burns fat, improves balance, eases arthritis pain, builds bones, and helps us sleep better.
And if you want to avoid falls, it’s essential.
Two Women Who Love Strength Training
Here are two women who started after 60 and swear by it. I know countless more. I’m even one myself.
“Without even trying, I lost 25 pounds. I felt better than I ever had in my life,” says Margaret.
“I look like any other little, old lady,” says Barb, a retired physical therapist. “There is a wheelchair waiting for every one of us. And the point is to stay the hell out of it.”
My thoughts exactly, Barb!
Talk to me now to put this deadly myth – and others – to rest once and for all.
And repeat after me: Strength training won’t make you bulky.