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  • Writer's pictureJoni Grant

Is "Too Heavy" a Thing?

I hear it all the time. People that can carry a thirty-pound child on one hip won't consider a ten-pound weight in each hand. A person who hauls bags of mulch to the backyard won't do any exercise with the word "deadlift" in it, even when that's exactly what you do every time you pick something up off the ground.

I realize I've been lifting for nine years, and I have a different understanding of "heavy." When I first started working out, I was warned over and over again by well-meaning friends that I was going to get hurt. As older women, we have been told all our lives that picking up weights is a bad thing. Now it's time for us to stop hearing that message. No one ever told us not to haul a heavy child upstairs. We have all re-arranged sturdy furniture to our liking.

Let's define weight before we go any further. A weight can be as simple as your own body weight. When you think of bodyweight workouts, think about pushups, sit-to-stand, squats, and lunges which are just a few of the bodyweight exercises. If you use weight, it can be a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, band, medicine ball, can of corn, or a million other tools. Many people work out with a set of bands or a single kettlebell. What you use for resistance training is up to you.

And there is so much at stake if you don't do resistance training. If you've read "Train To Age," you know how our bodies change as we age. But in the event you haven't, here's a little primer. You lose muscle mass as you age. Less muscle means you become weak. The good news is you can build muscle with resistance training and other activities. Weight-bearing activities can help maintain your bone density to help fend off osteoporosis. And training core and leg strength can do much to help keep you upright when you trip or lose your balance.

When the weights you are using become too easy, it's time to increase the weight a little bit. Learn good form. Doing exercises with proper form is what keeps you safe, not a low weight. You can hurt your back by pulling your socks up. Why not build a strong back and a flexible body that might help you avoid an injury?

Here's one more rule. Your body is very smart. If you start working out with a two-pound weight in each hand and a year later you are still using that same weight for the same exercise, your body will not respond. We build muscle by challenging our muscles. You don't have to be using heavy weights, but you do have to increase the amount of weight you are using over time.

Want to learn how to properly do resistance training? There are gyms, trainers, online classes, senior center classes, park districts, and books, among a few resources. Stay safe and get cleared by your doctor, then get started. You want to be active and mobile for as long as possible. You worked hard for this retirement. Learn how to do resistance training and build a body that will take you into your best future!!

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