There are a lot of good reasons to start lifting when you’re over 40…
- general health
- prevent muscle loss as you age
- look amazing…
And lifting is recommended to strengthen the muscles around joints and that’s something we want, right?
But if you’ve got cranky knees, shoulders, or elbows like I do, you might worry about getting hurt when your lifting.
I’ve got 10 ways you can protect your joints when you lift. Watch the video or read below.
1. Warm-up and cool down.
Use movements that raise your body temperature. Do some easy cardio for 5 to 10 minutes.
Related: How to Warmup to Lift the Right Way
Cool down with some easy floor, exercises or stretches for your whole body.
2. Watch your form.
Use full range of motion if you can, but adjust your form if you need to.
Don’t lock out your knees or elbows to avoid putting too much pressure on your joints.
Always, keep your back straight and hold your shoulders down during some upper body movements. You may notice that your shoulders start to creep up towards your ears. We don’t want that. You want to bring your shoulders down.
3. Vary your program.
Repetitive motions and imbalances can cause strain on your joints.
Limit your sets to about 15 reps or less.
Design a program that covers all your muscle groups so that you are building strength in a balanced way.
4. Start off light.
Practice your exercises before you add a lot of weight.
Increase the intensity by adding a little weight, or if you can’t add weight, do a couple more reps.
5. Slow down.
Let your muscles do the work instead of allowing momentum to take over.
If you’ve ever seen people in the gym, just swinging the weights around – that’s not what you want to do.
You could count to three as you raise the weight and count to three again as you lower it.
6. Rest and recover.
Strength training causes tiny, but harmless, tears in your tissues. Your muscles grow when those tears repair.
They need to have a break of 24 to 48 hours before you work them again.
You can target other parts of your body while you’re waiting. There is a link below to a video that goes over different weekly splits to allow you to keep working while some parts are recovering.
7. Ask for a spot.
When you want to try something that’s a little bit heavier, have somebody there with you so that they can grab the barbell if you start to falter.
If you’re working out alone and don’t have a partner, don’t be shy about asking another gym member to give you a spot.
Most of us consider that a common courtesy. We’ve all been there and we are happy to help.
8. Breathe freely.
Holding your breath could raise your blood pressure or even lead to fainting.
Instead, exhale when you exert force and inhale on the less strenuous portion of that lift.
9. Use gloves or lifting straps.
They help you keep a firm grip so that you can focus on using proper form.
10. Try sleeves for knees or elbows.
Knee sleeves or elbow sleeves aren’t braces. They help keep the joints warm and the tiny bit of compression that they provide is going to increase blood flow to the area. That increased blood flow does provide a little extra support for that joint.
Another benefit of wearing a sleeve is that it increases your awareness of where your joint is during a movement and it will help you keep good form.
ONE MORE – Talk with your doctor.
Consulting with your doctor is especially important if you’ve been sedentary, if you have a previous injury, or if you have a medical condition like diabetes or arthritis. Your physician can recommend a program based on your individual history.
Know you need to change, but aren't sure where to start? I created this free training to answer the most common questions women have asked me over the years.
- What to eat?
- Why lift?
- How to stick with it?
- How to get started?
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Hi! I'm Tammy! I was a busy, stressed, and unhealthy teacher until I decided to take control of my health. I did not become an athlete until I was in my 50's!
I earned personal training and fitness nutrition certifications, then retired from teaching to dedicate my work life to fitness education for other busy women over 40.
My results are obviously not typical because most people don't train to compete as a bodybuilder.
But I believe everyone can make positive changes with healthy habits! Each of us has a unique combination of strengths and challenges that need to be considered to customize a program that will work for us. Science-based principles, flexibility, and consistency make all the difference.