Add lifting weights to your program!
Hello! I know its been a long time, such a lot has happened (or hasn't happened), its been a tough year hasn't it? The stop starting of my business has had me in the doldrums of despair, especially the start of 2021. I have been ticking off the days when I can start training clients again, that time is very soon and I am excited!
Since last March I have read a lot and listened to different podcasts, mainly about how women are so different to men in terms of fitness, as Dr Stacy Sims says "WOMEN ARE NOT SMALL MEN!". The obvious differences between the sexes are muscle mass, weight, lever lengths, strength and speed; but there are lots of others such as how are bodies change each week in conjunction to your monthly cycle, and also whilst going through the Perimenopause and the menopause. I have been listening to the podcast Hit Play Not Pause (you will find it on Spotify), they have some really great interviews with women athletes who have overcome the obstacles that time throws at them. I find this pretty inspirational as for me I am at that age when training is sometimes harder than it was a couple of years ago and my recovery is sometimes slower too.
I really am a great advocate for strength training in women, for me I feel its even more important than cardio. Far too many women think cardio is the only form of fitness they should be practising. They are SO wrong, lifting weights alongside cardio improves fitness, strength, and most importantly (for me) your mental health. Women who are 35+ yrs should really start thinking about how they can start adding resistance exercise to their programs. Not only will it help you change your body shape, it will help you build lean muscle mass this will burn calories, your self esteem will improve - it really will!! You will feel stronger, have more energy and sleep better. If you run, then strength training will help you decrease your joint injuries by strengthening the muscles around them.
Perimenopausal and menopausal women will benefit from doing heavy lifting rather than the normally 3 sets of 8-12 reps (hypertrophy), with the heavy lifting you will be doing 3-5 reps with a longer rest (Obviously this kind of lifting needs good form so advice from a Personal Trainer is recommended) Strength training 2-3 times a week will help improve how your body copes with glucose control and insulin sensitivity, it also helps preserve your metabolic rate which leads to a better hormonal environment in the body. Whilst in the peri-menopausal and menopausal period the production of hormones, including Oestrogen in the Ovaries drop and fat cells and adrenal glands begin increasing sex hormone production. This can result in losses in your muscle mass and bone mass, and if you are inactive this can lead to weight gain. The good news is that building muscle mass and strength though resistance training has been shown to play a massive role in improving these problems associated with this period in women's life.
The best way to start improving things is to start following your menstrual cycle, look at the patterns for 2-3 months, you will see your good days and the days when you aren't feeling too great. If your cycle has stopped, you can still get some great advice on how to make your training more effective. Dr Stacy Sims has some great advice and theories about what women should do throughout their training life. if your interested have a look at her website - www.drstacysims.com she also has a great book out called ROAR:How to match your Food and Fitness to your unique female physiology.