Women Over 40: It’s Time To Lift Weights (Here’s What You Need To Know)

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Gang, it’s time. After years of struggling with various perimenopause symptoms (hot flashes, insomnia, the occasional panic attack), I’ve noticed a distinct trend: these symptoms tend to get better when I’m working out hard. I’m not talking about going for a walk (although I love walks), but a serious workout – something that leaves me breathless and very sweaty – is what I’ve found really makes a difference.

Beginner Weightlifting For Women Over 40: A Four-Week Guide

Beginner Weightlifting For Women Over 40

Weightlifting, in particular, not only seems to help my menopause symptoms, but makes me feel really strong in general. Weightlifting has been a confidence boost, especially when skiing or hiking. I don’t worry about getting injured, and I just feel so physically capable. And I am! Not only can I lift heavier stuff, but my balance is better, my mood is better, and that sloooow (and very, very stubborn) weight gain around my middle has halted for the first time in years.

Healthline has a great article, 14 Benefits of Strength Training, about the various benefits of weightlifting (with studies linked – a detail I always appreciate). According to these studies, not only does weightlifting make your bones stronger, but it can also help to manage blood sugar levels, improve brain health, boost metabolism, and strengthen your heart – just to name a few!

A beginner's guide to weightlifting for women over 40

Despite these proven benefits, there are still many women – especially over the age of 40 – who are hesitant to lift. I think that we’ve been fed so much…let’s go with misinformation (*cough*bullshit*cough*) over the course of our lives – that lifting heavy weights will “bulk” us up, or give us “guy muscles” – that we’re naturally apprehensive. So we stick with high reps at low weights, and, quite frankly, lose out on many of the benefits of lifting.

The Mom Edit’s Guide To Weightlifting Over 40: Follow-Along

The Mom Edit is kicking off a four-week beginner weightlifting series with our personal trainer, Laurel Card. Our goal? To get really, really strong, safely. This series may be beginner level, but we’re going to lift heavy (or, rather, we’re going to work up to lifting heavy) and really reap those benefits.

This series is open to everyone, but it’s especially geared to women over the age of 40. We also have a special shout-out to the 65+ crowd – Laurel and I have been wanting our moms to start lifting, so here’s your special invitation, Mom!

4-week follow along guide to weightlifting for women over 40

Starting Saturday, April 6th, weekly workouts will drop on our YouTube channel, followed by supplemental posts publishing here on The Mom Edit. In addition to the weekly workouts, these posts will also include some recipes, tips, Q&A answers, and workout outfit inspo just for fun.

Want To Join Us? Here’s What You Need For Our Beginner Weightlifting Series (& Some Getting Started Tips From Our Coach)


Weightlifting For Women in Their 40’s: An FAQ

While Laurel goes into more detail in the video, we asked her to pull together a quick little FAQ to get everyone going. (Or, basically, we asked her to answer any questions that we know our moms, specifically, have been asking, haha.)

How old is too old to start lifting weights?

You’re never too old to start lifting weights – muscle knows no age! Muscle doesn’t know if you are 20, 40, or 70 years old. It just knows whether it is active or not. You can build muscle at any age, you’re never too old to feel and look great!

What Equipment Do I Need?

To start lifting weights at home, you will need:

  • Dumbbells, multiple weights (this is the full set I use – it’s pretty, haha – you can also get weights and a stand separately)
  • Resistance bands (I use these)
  • An exercise bench (this is mine, but you can also use a chair and your floor)
How much weight should I start with?

You’ll have to test a few weights to find one that is manageable for you, yet challenging. If you don’t challenge your muscles enough to adapt and grow, you won’t see results. On the other side of that coin, if you lift too heavy, you will lose your form and risk injury. In this first series, we are sticking to 10 reps for everything. If you can perform all reps with ease, then your weight is too light. You’ll know you have hit the right weight when your muscles are burning and fatiguing–when the last 2-3 reps are almost impossible to finish, that’s the sweet spot. For most people, I suggest testing first with an 8 lb weight and then going up or down from there.

How many times a week should I lift?

I recommend at least two times per week, at a minimum! This program, however, is really geared to weightlifting four times a week. Pay attention to how your body is reacting to your workouts each day. If you need a break, take one. If you are too sore, wait a day or two. You’ll figure out what works best for you as you go; and make sure you are getting in those active rest days too.

How long should a weight lifting workout be? Is 30 minutes enough?

You could get the job done in 30 to 40 minutes, but I think it’s also common to work out for an hour, especially if you’re doing a thorough warm-up and an appropriate cool-down.

How do you know when to go up in weight?

When you can get through all of your reps without struggling at the end (or if you could do at least 2 more reps), then it’s time to move up in weight. If the weight jump is too dramatic (based on the weights you own), you can also increase your reps. For example, we are starting with 10 reps. If that becomes easier for you, move up to 12-15 reps per exercise.

How long until I see results?

Waiting for results and trying to stay motivated is probably the hardest part. Results will come as long as you are consistent, I promise you that, but they will not happen overnight. Everyone is different and results will depend on many factors. It honestly could take up to 6 months to see our bodies physically changing and sculpting. Focus on how you feel and how strong you are becoming! Happily, these results will happen much quicker, more often, and will keep you motivated to keep lifting those weights. Then, before you know it, you’ll look in the mirror and see those physical results you’ve been waiting for.

How do I prevent injury?

Your form and your technique are very important. If your body isn’t in the correct alignment and you’re not doing the exercises properly, you could injure something. If you are trying to lift a weight that is too heavy for you, you will start to sacrifice your form, pulling in other muscles to try to finish your exercise, therefore resulting in possible injury. Another way to injure yourself is by not fully warming up or not cooling down. Also, if you need to wear an ankle brace, a knee brace, wrist brace, etc., then wear it!

What shoes should I wear?

It’s important to wear a flat shoe for proper alignment when learning (even Converse works), but you can also just wear your socks or go barefoot (as long as you’re not worried about dropping a weight on your foot!).

Can I eat before I lift?

Yes, and you should! Your body needs a whole heck of a lot of energy to get you through heavy lifting workouts, so carb up, ladies. Carbs are energy, and if your body doesn’t have enough fuel, you won’t make it through the workout efficiently. Either you’ll quit because your body is too tired, or you won’t be able to actually lift as heavy as you can, sacrificing the results you want.

Smoothies are a great way of giving your body a lot of energy without feeling like you’re eating a ton of food. If you’re like me, and don’t like to eat a lot of food before workout out, a smoothie is perfect. Load this smoothie with bananas and berries!!! And I don’t just mean put one little banana and a cup of berries in your blender. When I say load it, I mean Load! It! On a normal day I use two bananas. And on a lifting day, I’ll put 4 bananas in my smoothie, 2-3 cups of berries (normally wild organic blueberries) and a liquid (filtered water, orange juice or coconut water). You will feel amazing and have energy.


What other questions do you have about beginner weightlifting? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be sure to answer them in our soon-to-come workout sessions together!

Xo,

S & Laurel

Oh hey, pinners…

Looking for a beginner's guide to weightlifting for women in their 40s? Follow along with our 4-week starter kit to get into lifting weights.