Whether you are a woman that has just started to workout, or have worked out all your life, your 50-year-old body requires different nutrition and exercise than when you were in your 20s, 30s and 40s.
And while everyone’s body is different, there are many foundational similarities that it needs for optimal performance, muscle building, and the ability to lose weight at age 50 and beyond.
During this stage of life, different areas of our overall fitness need nurturing besides high-intensity cardio and trying to look “skinny.” As older women, we need to shift our focus to preserving our internal organs and overall health and well-being as much as we do the external appearance of our figure and the image we are projecting to the world.
Things like our bone mineral density, mental health, bone health, blood pressure and simple state of mind become more important in relation to overall fitness.
Something that I have found amazing about the human body is that it is in a constant state of change and repair. It tells you what it needs, and REALLY tells you what it does NOT need. Everything in your body works together as a balance. Digestive issues such as GERD, Acid Reflux, Lactose and Gluten intolerance give us distinct and painful signals as to what foods the body is rejecting.
Painful gas and bloated bellies suddenly become a normal feeling. Then we begin to take over-the-counter products or blame it on “aging” to try to help us deal with them. But if you simply follow your body’s signals, and understand what it is trying to tell you, a beautiful thing begins to happen. You start to dig into the world of healthy eating and habits, working with your body instead of against it, then before you know it, you begin to start living your best life NOW!
The Body and Mindset Shift Women Over 50 Have To Adjust To
So why is all this so important to a person who is age 50 and over? Because when a woman enters her 50s, major hormone and life changes happen and a major adjustment has to occur in her lifestyle to stay healthy and afloat. Bone density and body composition changes occur, menopause happens and your testosterone levels plummet.
You feel like you’re going crazy sometimes! Your 50-year-old digestive system is lagging and the skin above your elbows is sagging! Your muscle strength has declined and you’re losing your behind! The strength work you used to do in the gym is no longer seems to working as efficiently.
Also, you may not be gaining weight on the scale, but your weight does not reflect a strong upper body or toned legs anymore. What’s going on? I’m only 50! Not 90!
The aging process (and muscle loss) at this point can play tricks on your mind, self-confidence and your metabolism.
So you want to start countering the negativity in your results and counter the “lag” in your training program and fitness routines?
Fantastic. You’ve taken the first mental step.
One way is that you might tune in to the tv or your cellphone looking for a new workout plan on different web sites, searching for new and exciting routines, going to YouTube videos for training tips and exercises. Perhaps begin interval training, lifting weights, yoga, or anything that might simply work? Yes, we all have done this. But it’s so hard to stay motivated doing this alone.
So now as your virtual personal trainer, I want to encourage you to stay in the game and share some great tips with you that have been proven beneficial to several of my female clients over 50. The combination of simply eating right and exercising really works! It’s time to get back on the fitness horse and take back control of your physique, mind and life!
Nutrition Guidelines For Building Lean Muscle Mass
Regardless of your economic situation, you can eat good foods, be healthy, and stay fit. The truth is, weight loss at 50 isn’t that difficult when you understand the needs of your body at this stage in life. In a nutshell, lean proteins, fresh veggies, moderate starchy carbs and fresh fruits can give you the right amount of energy for training and feeling well and the nutrition to keep solid muscle mass on your body, combined of course, with safe, reasonable resistance training and strength training moves.
So why do you want “muscle” as a 50-year-old woman that is supposed to be aging “gracefully?”
Because the more lean muscle you have, the more skeletal support you have, and most importantly, the easier it is to lower your body fat! And the more fat you burn, the lower your chances of having conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease. It all goes together!
At this age, it’s all about the foods you are putting in your body, the exercises that you do, and the mindset you have to keep you going.
Smaller Meal Portions Are Key To Keeping Your Weight (and Belly Size) Down!
After trial and error in many different diets and food fads, I have had the best results following simple percentages representing how much of each type of food on your plate.
The best ratio for women over 50 as been 40% lean protein, 30% veggies, 15% starchy carbs and 15% fresh fruit or juice. I also follow the guideline of each meal being able to fit in both of my hands when I cup them together like a bowl. Eat two to three balanced meals a day, with healthy snacks in between if necessary, incorporating intermittent fasting on occasion, and drinking a gallon of water per day. This has been my best recipe for success in working with clients over 50. Simple!
Integrate Intermittent Fasting
You can research “Intermittent Fasting” and see which ratio would work best for you. For beginners, I recommend the 16:8 fast two times per week. Start with one day, then two if you feel comfortable. I like the Tuesday and Thursday fasting routine. This is to get you where you need to be with weight loss. After the desired weight is obtained, and you are working out more, you can fast one time each week, or at least every other week.
I believe as a whole, we eat way too much food, and if you are eating the right kinds of food with adequate physical activity, you need WAY less meals. This allows your digestive system to rest, reboot, and repair.
Food Guidelines For Feeding Your Muscles
Here is a guideline list of foods that will help you build muscle and starve fat without experiencing hunger pains or a drastic caloric deficit. Muscle growth is impossible without protein. Supplements are not a substitute for food based sources of protein.
Try it out and see how you feel after a few weeks:
WATER: 1 GALLON DAILY- ALKALINE IS BEST.
PROTEINS: (Baked, Raw, or Seared in Olive oil, NEVER breaded or fried)
- Greek Yogurt
- Baked or Grilled Chicken without the skin
- Veggie Protein Powders (Pea, Hemp, Sunflower, Soy, Pumpkin, Alfalfa, etc.)
- Lean Cuts of Beef or Pork prepared in Olive or Canola Oil, served in small portions.
- Lactose Free/Fat Free Cow’s Milk
- Fatty Fish
- Sweet Potato/Roasted Potatoes
- Wild Rice/Brown Rice
- Whole Grain Bread or Gluten Free (In moderation)
- Brown Rice Pasta
- Corn (Because high in starch, I like to use it as a starchy carb.)
- Brussel Sprouts
- Stone Fruits (Peaches, Plums)
- Brazil Nuts
Weight Training for Women Over 50
When you have achieved the incredible accomplishment of reaching 50 years old, first of all, you should give a major shout out to your body and THANK IT for all it has done for you.
Gratitude is key for getting your body to perform it’s best for you. Getting a good massage from a therapist or a friend a few times each month will work wonders and speed healing and workout results! Treat your body like your baby, because it is!
Your amazing vehicle of skin and bones and heart has carried you all over this earth, from city to city, state to state, from first love, to first heartbreak, made it through illnesses, perhaps bore children, let you feel the amazing sensation of victory, and helped you overcome the heartbreaking emotion of defeat. It’s amazing!
So when we turn the page and start to ask even MORE from our “older adult” bodies, we do it gently, with discipline, integrity, and with the utmost respect. Our muscles, joints, bones, organs, ligaments, and tendons have endured quite a journey thus far, so the second half of life, the remainder of the journey must be handled with infinite care and wisdom.
Choosing An Exercise Program You Can Stick With
Training programs should contain an exercise routine that fits your body’s age, ability, and lifestyle, and muscles supplied with enough protein to keep you strong and healthy.
I feel that even more so than the exercises that you perform, it is the mindset in which you do it that matters most. First of all, let your body tell YOU how much it can do, by honoring the way it is feeling under certain types of exercises and pressure.
Do not compare yourself to the younger version of you or anyone else in the gym or on social media. You will achieve great results if you work WITH your body, instead of against it, and surpass and smash goals for your future, if you are patient and persistent, making as-needed adjustments along the way.
I absolutely recommend getting a complete physical before starting any workout program. The respect and honor for your body and health starts HERE and NOW! Get to know your body on an even more intimate level than ever before, inside and out, with your Physician. Soon thereafter you will start to discover gifts that it will give you and new physical achievements that you have yet to develop. Your body is still very much ALIVE and VIGOROUS at 50 and beyond! The more you love it and care for it, the better it will perform for you. It’s simple!
Fit Enough To Workout? Let’s Do It!
Joining a gym is wonderful, but not necessary to get in shape. There are thousands of home workouts online and on social media that are free, current and inspiring, as I am sure you have seen. So there are no more excuses for not being able to get in shape. Eventually, I want you to be able to practice strength workouts by weight training, but to start, just do your best and follow whatever fits your body’s basic needs, budget, lifestyle, and ability. You will see that you will find a way to build on whatever and wherever you start with your workouts, food, and exercises. The momentum will begin and a stronger, new you will start to grow.
When you are 50+ in age, and a woman, your exercise focus should change from hours and hours of cardio and starving yourself, to strength training, flexibility exercises, correcting your posture, “light” cardio and meditation. Your “pooch” is usually associated more so with your diet than exercise and the things you are putting in there are now more important than ever. Simply eating things that your body can digest more efficiently in the right amounts will make a huge difference in flattering out that belly, and the way that you will begin to stand and hold yourself correctly after doing foundational posture- corrective exercises, will lift that chest and pop out that booty. It will all come together beautifully and you will start to feel like YOU again!
Strength Training Exercises
I am going to give you a few strength training movements that will help you get started, or to help you continue with the program you are already using. Use these as a foundation or to simply add to your training arsenal at home. NOW is the time for you to make the decision to make your own home gym, or go to your local fitness center and sign up. But at the very least, your garage, back yard or local park will suffice, no more excuses!
Benefits of strength training
- increase in lean muscle mass
- metabolism boost
- improved bone density
- improved posture, balance and flexibility
- improved mental health
You don’t have to feel or be in perfect shape to exercise. Throw that mindset in the garbage. Exercise will MAKE YOU BETTER! No matter what shape you are in or age you are starting. Think to train smarter and not harder, being consistent more so than resistant. YOU CAN DO THIS!
If working out at home, I recommend a few pieces of equipment at minimal cost, such as a yoga or stability ball, 10lb dumbbells or hand weights, an ab wheel, jump rope, and an exercise mat. All can be ordered for just a few dollars each at Wal-Mart or on Amazon, and delivered right to your door!
Warming Up Your Muscles
I recommend warming up with a brisk walk or on a treadmill or stationary bike for 10 minutes, on low to medium intensity, breaking a sweat, but where you can still talk comfortably without being out of breath. I attached clickable links below to some of my favorite safe and effective home exercises that hit the glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, calves, chest, arms, shoulders and abs. You can also incorporate light bodyweight movements like pushups and jumping jacks to get the blood flowing.
Stability Ball Workout Routine
With a simple stability ball, you can safely work the whole body with dozens of easy exercises such as ab crunches, stability ball tricep kick, chest press, overhead ball lift in the kneeling position, lower ab ball lifts with your legs, and supported back stretches. There is so much you can do with just this big rubber ball!
I recommend starting out with 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise with little or no weight, just to get your body moving. A general rule to follow is to EXHALE on the exertion part of the move, or the lifting part, and inhale on the recovery or lowering part. Your breathing is so important and signals to your body what’s going on!
Useful Resource: Best Resistance Band Back Stretches
The best strength training exercises for women over 50 is a circuit training type routine where you get an all over body workout, hitting several muscle groups, fatiguing as many muscle fibers from as many different muscle groups as possible, without putting too much stress on the heart, back and joints.
You can mix and match these bodyweight exercises as needed, but if possible, work them all together in a circuit, one exercise after the other. Then repeat the number of cycles around the circuit as you build stamina. I like to start with legs after the warm-up, then back, chest, shoulders, arms, then abs.
You can work up to full body, mixing and matching, but just work the larger muscles first. And don’t forget to stretch and cool down afterwards! This is where I like to listen to my body and heart, and thank it for the work it has done for me today.
In addition, training several muscle groups in one session helps prevent injury and over-working a particular muscle group. Remember that recovery takes a bit longer now that we have passed the 50-mile marker, so keep that in mind while strength training or doing any exercises with substantial resistance. Don’t overdo it! -It’s better to “under”-do it and fight again the next day, instead of “over”-doing it and putting yourself out for three days.
Train Smart Warrior Woman!
Focus on training three to four times each week, keeping each exercise at 2-3 sets max with 10-15 reps, or 2-3 loops around a circuit. Hit the muscles slowly, using full range of motion, extending, squeezing, and fatiguing the muscle effectively, while focusing on your heart rate and breathing. ENJOY your training! ENJOY being alive!
Work your muscles respectively, and find your own personal “beastmode,” but do not overstress it to the point where you do not feel well. You can add weight, or take away weights as needed. Be flexible with your strength training workouts rather than relentless! Train hard when you feel good, train easy when not so good, and rest when you need it.
Also, music is a fantastic motivator for training! It really shifts your chemicals from lazy to “fired-up” and puts you in the mood to rock and roll! When I feel unmotivated, I click on my jams, and BOOM! It’s go time!
..Music can take you back to some great memories where you felt amazing, kicked some butt, or fell in love. Or you can crank some new tunes that give you positive vibes and a vision for an amazing future reaching new goals. Start putting together your playlist now and pay attention to how it makes you feel!
Beginner Strength Training Routine
Here is a great beginner routine for you. You can add weights and machines as needed if necessary. Go for it girlfriend, here is to a whole new you! Move that body!
Building Lower Body Strength
Rear Leg Hold/Raises
Forward Lunge with Knee Raise
Side Lunge with Curtsy
Towel Shoulder Stretch
Weighted Donkey Kickbacks
Building Upper Body Strength
Back Exercise Circuit with towel
Dumbbell Curl to Shoulder Press
And by the way, just because you are now past the 50 mark, doesn’t mean that you cannot power lift or break any world records in weightlifting. But what it does mean, is that you should honor your limits as much as celebrate your strengths, and give your muscles time to strengthen and adjust to your training. And if your strength takes you to the top of a platform with a trophy in your hand, then go with it! But if it also keep you at the bottom of the platform, but still in the game, then go with that too. It’s ok!
Regular Exercise Is The Key To Feeling Great and Building Muscle
FEELING GREAT and being happy with yourself, is the ultimate goal with exercise and nutrition for building muscles after 50. Understanding your lowered hormone levels means that you have to eat and train to improve and support the levels of testosterone and estrogen that you do have, and support your body to keep these levels as high and balanced as possible.
Natural otc supplements that may support healthy testosterone levels in women are D-Aspartic Acid, Zinc, Vitamin D3, and Ashwagandha . And Fish oil, maca root and magnesium supplements can help balance hormones and mood. Always try supplements one at a time and make sure there are no negative reactions or adverse effects, and it is always best to ask your doctor if these are safe for you to use.
As our body’s hormone levels continue to fluctuate, it is more important for women to go with the flow of our body’s rhythm and not against it. I can’t stress this enough. If you feel stronger in the mornings, train in the morning. If you come alive at night, that’s alright! Train in the evenings. There is no specific right or wrong. It’s your story! Make the most of your own body’s needs.
It’s time to find your own personal balance in your life, and make sure that you honor your body in all its forms, feelings, and cycles. And when you do, the most beautiful image of yourself will emerge. With the right nutrition, your skin will glow. With the right training, your muscles will grow. And with the right balance, grace, and acceptance, your spirit will soar.
We are NOT defined by our age, we are defined by our ENERGY! You can build muscle after 50! I’m living proof. If you’re interested in a custom strength training program, contact us!