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Why I Train the Way I Train

March 31, 2010

Mostly, I train women over 50. I like it this way. At 54, I understand the special needs and challenges of women over 50.

We don’t put on muscle as easily or as quickly as we used to be able to–and, in some cases, are already in the muscle-wasting process.

…so I rely on basic weight-lifting movements, using a stable surface (no chest presses on a ball) and free weights when possible, performed in a muscle-building rep range in order to improve the odds of adding muscle safely and efficiently.

We are at higher risk for thinning bones and osteoporotic fractures.

…so I focus on weight training to strengthen bone as well as muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Weight training also improves flexibility, coordination and balance, which can help prevent falls that can lead to fractures. Needless to say, I use little, if any, plyometrics or ballistic movements. (Using just a touch of plyometrics—perhaps jumping off and onto an aerobics step—in only those clients who are able to do them safely can help bones rebuild and get stronger.)

We gain and hold on to excess fat more readily than we did at a younger age.

…so, an emphasis on adding muscle mass will improve the shape and tone of the body, plus speed the metabolism. (Muscle burns more calories than fat does.) Also, a fit woman with some body fat to lose looks healthier, I feel, than an unfit woman at her “ideal” body weight. This is more evident the older you get, when skin starts to sag if there’s little muscle underneath to support it.

We are evaluating our past and giving thought to our future, with many of us concerned about aging, our health, our financial needs and work opportunities.

…so I put the focus on “getting stronger,” an achievement that brings a variety of rewards and helps many women appreciate a newfound sense of mastery and accomplishment. “Getting stronger” usually results in standing taller, which makes us look and feel more competent and confident. 

We have an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and certain cancers.

…so reaching and maintaining a healthy weight—which helps fight all these conditions—becomes more important than ever!

The best way I’ve found to achieve a healthy weight is through a combination of:

• weight training

• eating appropriate amounts of nutrient-rich food

• a mix of interval cardio for its superior fat-burning capabilities and cardiovascular benefits, plus slow, relaxing cardio (like a walk in the park) for stress relief—so critical for good health and good mood.

I could do many things with my clients in the gym.

Look around. Every trainer has his/her tools and methods.

What I choose to do is to show women how to weight train properly—and to get them to feel so comfortable in the gym that they can work out without me.

My mantra…You’re stronger than you think you are!

Flickr photo, FocusFitGym11

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