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can midlife women get toned

Can Midlife Women Get Toned?

One thing many women complain about after age 40 is the loss of muscle definition. In their 20s and 30s they may have looked sleek and toned, but after age 40 things start to go downhill. You may be wondering if you can ever get back that toned look.

This article covers several concepts about exercise for midlife women. To get more information, refer to my ebook - Healthy Changes which has an extensive section on exercise.

What does toned mean?

When women refer to getting toned or getting a toned look, they usually mean they want to be lean, with some muscle definition and not flabby, jiggly, or bulky.

Some misconceptions about getting toned

There are several misconceptions that have been promoted by magazines, social media, and even the fitness industry that need to be addressed to get a better understanding of how to look toned.

Spot reduction

This is a big one on social media. Spot reduction is the idea that if you exercise a certain area of your body you will reduce the fat in that area. An example of this is thinking that sit-ups will help you to lose belly fat or side bends will get rid of flabby sides. This idea is really popular on social media but is completely false.

The problem with the concept of spot reduction is that you are exercising the muscle, which doesn’t mean you will reduce the fat in that area. You may be increasing your abdominal muscle size by doing sit ups but you won’t be reducing the layer of fat that covers it.

A better way to burn fat and add muscle is by doing a resistance training program that works the big muscles and cardiovascular exercise, especially interval training.

Can you get bulky?

Many women are afraid of resistance training, especially with heavier weights because they don’t want to get bulky. It is almost impossible for women, especially those over 40 to accidentally get bulky. You likely don’t have high enough testosterone to get big muscles very easily so you probably won’t end up looking like a body builder.

One thing that can happen if you do start to add a little muscle without also addressing the fat is that you may start to look a little bulkier because the fat hasn’t been targeted to give you the muscle definition you want.

Using light weights with lots of repetitions

Another misconception is that light weights with lots of repetitions are what is required to tone. Fitness classes where you do tricep extensions until your arms burn are a good example of this. This type of workout is good for building muscle endurance but doesn’t help with muscle growth or fat burning so it doesn’t really help with toning.

Part of this misconception comes from seeing men with bulky muscles lifting heavy weights.

Relying only on cardio

Cardio has a good effect on fat burning, but it shouldn’t be your only means of getting exercise. Strength training is needed for muscle growth. And the great thing about increasing your muscle mass is that you also increase your metabolism so that you burn more fat even at rest.

How To Increase Muscle

It becomes much harder to put on muscle for women over 40. You don’t have as much testosterone as when you were younger and that is one of the keys to increasing muscle. If you have a teenage son you will see how easy it is for him to put on muscle. Your muscles don’t respond as quickly as they did when you were younger.

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The best way to increase muscle is to use a full body resistance training plan. Your plan should concentrate on bigger muscles and multi joint exercises to get the most benefits. This means that rather than do a calf extension which only works the calf muscles, do a lunge that works the big quadricep and glute muscles along with the calf muscles. Or do an assisted pull-up exercise to work the back along with the biceps.

Muscles need to be stressed a certain way for them to grow. For most people the right amount of stress is using a resistance that you can only do for about 8-12 repetitions. Using weights that are too light is one of the biggest exercise mistakes that women make. 2 to 3 sets with a rest in between will help you get the most out of a resistance training plan.

Make sure your diet contains enough protein. This will help your body to maintain and to build muscle. But don’t completely give up on carbohydrates. These are needed for fuel and without carbohydrates, your body may start to use muscle and protein for fuel which ends up actually reducing your muscle.

How To Lose Fat

If you are going through menopause or are post menopausal your body is more likely to want to store extra fat. This makes losing fat even harder than it was when you were younger.

Resistance training will have some effect on your fat loss because the added muscle will help to increase metabolism. A resistance training workout will also burn some fat itself. Interval training is also useful for burning fat because it is very efficient. In fact, any exercise will burn a certain amount of calories. A calorie deficit will mean that your body will start to use fat as fuel.

Exercise does help with fat loss, but changes to your diet and lifestyle may also be necessary. If you are eating more calories than you are burning, then your body will likely store the excess as fat. Reducing sugar consumption is a good start (Take the 5 day sugar free challenge to get started). Reducing stress may also help to reduce the amount of fat your body stores.

Summary

Getting a toned look is possible for midlife women, but it is much harder than when you were younger. A combination of exercise, diet changes, and even lifestyle changes may be necessary to get that toned look you want. Get started with exercise with this free exercise plan for menopausal women.

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References:

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-myth-of-toning.html

https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3629/myths-and-misconceptions-spot-reduction-and-feeling-the-burn/

  

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