Putting on fat is effortless, especially after menopause. All it takes is a daily muffin and coffee drink or a habit of relaxing in front of your TV after work with a soft drink and some snacks. Achieving the well-defined muscles of a bodybuilder is much harder. It takes at least a year of intense training at the gym, as well as forgoing many of your favorite fattening snack foods. In return for the hard work you put into training, you not only get an impressive physique but also decrease your risk of many chronic health problems.
Hoist weights that you can lift with correct form for no more than 15 repetitions. Lighter weights and higher repetitions are less effective for building muscles, with the exception of the abdominal and back muscles, which should be trained with sets of 20 to 30 repetitions to build muscular endurance.
Perform a total-body strength workout on two or three non-consecutive days a week for at least two months. Complete one set each of eight to 10 exercises, focusing on movements that exercise multiple muscles simultaneously, such as the leg press, chest press, seated row, flyes and lat pulldowns. For a novice lifter, machines are safer than free weights.
Increase fat loss and muscle building by gradually working up to three full sets of each exercise. You can save time by organizing your exercises into a circuit, alternating upper and lower body, rather than resting between exercises.
Switch to split workouts after you have been completing three-set total body workouts for at least six weeks without injury. When you move to split workouts, work the lower body on one day, the upper body on the next day and perform high-intensity cardio intervals on the third day
Lose fat by performing cardiovascular exercises after strength training and on non-strength training days. Perform non-impact or low-impact exercises such as bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing and walking, or working out on rowing machines, stationary bikes or elliptical trainers. Add extra cardio by doing errands on foot or bicycle rather than by car and taking the stairs rather than elevators.
Increase the intensity of your cardio exercises as you lose weight. Add brief intervals of jogging to walks or hills to bike rides after you have lost enough weight to do so safely without injuring your knees.
Eat a healthy balanced diet, including lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, nuts and seeds. Consume 250 to 500 calories per day fewer than you are expending. Don't starve yourself or you will lose the muscles you are trying to build.
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking — and Keeping — It Off
- MayoClinic.com: Menopause Weight Gain: Stop the Middle Age Spread
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle!
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- BodyBuilding.com: Women and Weight Training
- BodyBuilding.com: Lean, Sexy, Hard: Weight Training for Women Part 1
- Place a stationary bicycle or treadmill in front of your television so that you can fit in quick workouts at home even when you don't have time to get to a gym.
- Consult your health care provider before making significant changes to your diet or exercise program, especialy if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.
Carol Poster began writing professionally in 1974. Her articles have appeared in "Outdoor Woman," "Paddler," "Ski Magazine," "Women's Sports & Fitness," "Dance News," "Show Business," "The Athenian," "PC Resource" and "Utah Holiday," among other publications. Poster holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri.