Perimenopause and Menopause- “The THING you might be missing in your current training.”Oct 13, 2022
You are likely getting enough cardiovascular exercise with the hiking, spin classes, bootcamp, HIIT classes, or tennis you might be playing. There might be some days you aren’t feeling your best. However, do you have a dedicated day for heavy strength training? Heavy strength training, defined as lifting six reps or less with as much weight as possible. From a large exercise class, it can be challenging to design a class where everyone is lifting heavy weights, purely because of the amount of equipment available. (Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.)
The role of hormones in perimenopause and menopause: Estrogen and progesterone
Generally, estrogen levels can decline during this time period
WHY you should lift heavy things.
Benefits can include:
- Increased metabolic rate- maintaining muscle takes energy aka more calories to burn just to live
- Bone Strength - resistance training helps jump start remodeling of bones
- Blood pressure control- Lifting heavy weights can help with the ability of blood vessels to get bigger and smaller (dilate and constrict, respectively) (aka- vascular compliance)
- Maintain lean body mass - With decreased estrogen production, anabolic stimulus decreases. To combat this, lifting heavy things stimulates the building of lean muscle.
- An immune response - cytokines responsible for growth and activity of immune cells are activated with strength training. The long term effects can overall reduce inflammation and bolster immune system.
- Feeling strong! - Being strong feels awesome!
How to get started lifting heavy things.
A well designed strength program incorporates 3 planes of movement, progressions (regressions), deloads, and ample time for recovery. The goal is to help you feel strong and feel good. It is not to crush you so you can’t walk the next day or can’t sit on the toilet. Yes, you may be sore and strength takes time. Rep schemes should be small and effort should feel challenging especially when your goal is to lift heavy weights to help combat symptoms and work towards increasing bone density.
The two most important things:
- Staying consistent with a program. A starting strength program is typically simple and effective with programmed rest. This may feel different than your typical exercise class where you might be moving the entire duration of the class.
- Start slow. Focus on technique. Learn how to do basic lifts: squat, deadlift, press, and row.
If you have questions on how to work on technique or how to structure a program, comment below.
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