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Managing Strength Workouts During Menopause

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Managing Strength Workouts During Menopause

Image Source: Iryna Inshyna / Shutterstock

Managing Strength Workouts During Menopause

During my journey through menopause, alongside hot flashes and mood swings, I began noticing changes in my body’s shape. Despite frequent exercise, my muscle tone decreased, my midsection expanded, and my clothes felt tighter. Even increasing my workout routine with cardio, yoga, Pilates, and strength training didn’t produce results as it did after my pregnancies.

My experience wasn’t unique—many friends and online menopause support groups shared similar frustrations.

Research indicates that plummeting estrogen levels during menopause can impact our usual workouts. The good news is that there are ways to build muscle and transform body composition during menopause, but it might require more intense efforts.

Why building muscle is tougher in menopause

During menopause, hormone decline, notably estrogen, leads to changes in body composition, such as reduced muscle mass and strength and increased fat mass. Estrogen plays a crucial role in muscle health by affecting satellite cells, which are vital for muscle growth and repair.

Estrogen is also essential for metabolism, influencing weight regulation and energy usage. Its reduction during menopause can slow down metabolism, making it challenging to burn calories and fat.

However, strength training has shown promise in enhancing muscle renewal in older adults. It can also increase muscle mass, reduce fat, and boost resting metabolic rate for inactive adults.

Empowering your metabolism and muscle growth

In menopause, individuals need to alter their training routines to focus on high-intensity strength training to provoke muscle repair processes that require estrogen and testosterone. This shift can help in shaping the body, elevating hormone levels naturally, and fortifying muscles and bones, especially as we age.

Guidelines for your strength training routine

During menopause, opt for strength training at a high intensity to create muscle micro-tears that prompt the body to engage estrogen and testosterone in the rebuilding process. Focus on lifting weights that challenge you to fatigue in about six reps.

Incorporate strength training for each muscle group three times a week, beginning with lighter weights and gradually progressing to heavier loads as you build strength. Compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups like squats or rows are beneficial.

It’s essential to maintain proper lifting form and speed, concentrate on the mind-muscle connection during exercises, and intersperse cardio bursts between strength training sets. A mix of low-intensity cardio activities like walking complements your routine.

Starting or intensifying your strength training journey during menopause can significantly impact your health and wellbeing, enhancing longevity and overall vitality.

If you’ve been strength training for some time, focusing on enhancing your strength training routine could lead to significant progress in your fitness journey. Michele Cuffe emphasizes that building muscle through heavy weight training is achievable naturally at any age, including in your 60s, 70s, and beyond. She points out that strength training forms a crucial foundation for health and longevity.

To support your muscle building goals, it’s essential to ensure you are consuming sufficient protein to maintain and enhance muscle mass. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at utilizing protein compared to when we were younger, as shown in a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. For women going through menopause, it is recommended to aim for 1.3 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.

Here is a muscle-building workout tailored for strength training during menopause:

1. Sumo Deadlift:

– This exercise targets the glutes, quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings.
– Perform 4 sets of 10 reps.
– Make sure to maintain proper form and control throughout the exercise.

2. Barbell Back Squat:

– Engages the glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, and lower back.
– Complete 4 sets of 10 reps.
– Focus on keeping your form correct and controlled.

3. Bent-Over Barbell Row:

– Targets the latissimus dorsi, middle and lower trapezius, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids.
– Aim for 4 sets of 6 to 10 reps.
– Maintain a flat back and engage your core during the movement.

4. Overhead Shoulder Press:

– Works the pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and upper back.
– Perform 4 sets of 10 reps.
– Keep your core engaged for stability during the exercise.

5. Biceps Curl:

– Focuses on the biceps.
– Complete 4 sets of 10 reps.
– Ensure controlled movements throughout the exercise.

These exercises should be done with weights challenging enough that the last few reps of each set are tough. It’s ok to reduce the weight or take breaks if needed. Remember to focus on slow and controlled movements to maximize muscle engagement.

If you don’t have access to a barbell, alternative equipment like kettlebells or dumbbells can often be used as substitutes. Maintaining proper form and technique is key to reaping the full benefits of these exercises.

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