If you don’t now, you will, and if your body is changing, chances are your training needs to change too.
Alright, ladies, in case I didn’t say it loud enough – I turned 40 this summer. While the number itself didn’t bother me, I knew it was a turning point for my training. Why? Because typically this is the time when women enter perimenopause, those years leading up to menopause.
As a pre and postnatal coach for women, I had done enough research to know that women can’t train the same as men during certain stages of their lives, and this, my friends, is another one of those stages.
To rethink my training approach, I had to first understand what exactly was happening – or going to happen – to my body.
The quick and dirty explanation – the perimenopause years (those transition years) will involve random fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone instead of the methodical rise and fall of those same hormones that occurred with each cycle during the reproductive years.
Those irregular levels of “female” hormones will cause its own set of side effects and changes as my body tries to understand what the heck to do with these inconsistent messengers, and then when menopause officially begins and those hormone levels drop permanently, I will have to consider even more physical and psychological changes. So much fun ahead!
I admit, I want to scream and punch something (aggressive, sure) when I think about how “unfair” it is that body composition changes, brain fog, sleep disturbances and MORE will naturally become part of my life. But after a nice, big, deep belly breath, I remember that I – like you – am already active, already armed with sound nutrition habits, and I am doing everything I possibly can now to prepare.
This is inevitable, it’s a part of life, so instead of fighting it (or my wall) I will work with my physiology. I will show my body kindness and understanding and say, “Hey, we got this. I will take care of you the way you now need to be taken care of and you will let me continue to prove there is no age limit to strength and endurance and power.” Deal!
I have spoken with enough of you to know I am not the only forty something stepping foot on this boat. I’ve heard complaints of insomnia, low motivation, incontinence, so much heat, and – the number one complaint of them all – the seemingly overnight change to body composition despite exercising regularly and not changing eating habits. I know what that internal monologue looks like, too.
“I have to train more and longer. I have to eat less. And then repeat, repeat, repeat until I see a result.”
How is that working out for you?
Here are the facts: estrogen is not only responsible for some reproductive functions, but it also tells your body how to store fat, how to respond to exercise and how to recover from exercise. What do you think is going to happen when that estrogen is going, going, gone? You become more glucose sensitive and insulin resistant which triggers more fat storage, particularly in your belly. You lose the anabolic ability of estrogen to build muscle and the efficiency to turn the protein you eat into the muscle you need. You wake up more often during the night which means less quality sleep time and less recovery time.
Still think training longer and harder and eating less stands a chance?
Hope is not lost, ladies! Here is where the good news finally comes in. The sooner you accept that you can no longer train like a 29 year old guy – or even your 29 year old self – the sooner you can focus on giving your body the anabolic stimulus it needs in the absence (or decline) of estrogen.
There are three pillars to kickstarting that stimulus. First, you need to do heavy resistance training. The key word here is heavy. I’m not talking 3 rounds of 15 – 18 reps; I’m talking heavy enough that you are only able to complete 5-8 reps.
Second, you need plyometric and high intensity interval training. You know all those jumps I love to do? That’s plyometrics, and it will help you counter the insulin resistance and build power. Third, you have to change the quality and quantity of your protein and carbohydrate intake across the board, and you have to time it accordingly.
Fitguana’s philosophy of building strength for fat loss and functionality gives you the ideal outlet and expert guidance for adjusting your training and nutrition.
We have always believed hours spent on a treadmill or elliptical or any other cardio machine will fail to give you the same result strength training will in a fraction of the time, and this has never been truer than during the perimenopause through post-menopause phases.
That doesn't mean you should give up those runs or long distance bike rides or any other endurance sport you enjoy. It simply means you need to change your approach on strength days and the way you fuel both of those activities.
So stop beating yourself up, stop thinking you are completely out of control, and stop denying the inevitable changes that are coming (or have already arrived). I am right there with you, ladies, and I can help guide you through this so together we can own it, make meaningful changes, and work with our bodies. Go here if you want to book a consultation, personal training session or start a custom training program!
By Kim H.
Certified Pre- & Postnatal Coach by Girls Gone Strong