It has been a few weeks since I wrote a Menopause blog, mainly because life took over and I did not have enough headspace. In the last few month more clients have come to me and said they don’t want to do too much resistance training because they are worried about getting too bulky and I thought its worth bust a few myths. Whilst resistance training will help you get bulky if you wish to it does require using a certain training technique to bulk up as well as a special diet. It is highly unlikely that picking up some weights and include more resistance training will make you bulky.
Resistance training is an important part of your exercise regime. Unfortunately the outdated women-should-not-have-muscle-because-it-makes-them-look- less-feminine mindset, is hurting women on many levels. Maintaining and growing muscle makes you stronger and more resilient, it helps to increase bone density, decreases the risk of falls, increases self-esteem and body image, decreases depression and anxiety, and improves metabolisms. As we age, a natural loss in muscle mass occurs; it’s called sarcopenia. It is normal, and everyone goes through this. But for women during menopause, this process is accelerated. Research shows that estrogens, especially estradiol, play a key role in muscle preservation. So when during menopause, estrogen levels are affected, and the loss of muscle is greatly affected, which is why it is so important to prioritize resistance training and muscle-building effort before, during, and after the menopausal transition.
Muscles are essential for overall health. They are essential for everything, from getting up in the morning to the last thing you do before you go to sleep. The stronger your muscles are, the better your quality of life. There are three big categories of muscles: skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles. Skeletal muscles are connected to your bones and are the muscles that help you move your body. It is the one we can most influence with resistance training.
A vast amount of research provides evidence that “physical strength or the processes of developing strength is intrinsically linked to healthy age.” Studies indicate that women who strength train regularly tend to have significantly lower body fat percentages. Resistance training influences our metabolism by increasing muscle mass, which increases our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). RMR is the rate at which our body uses energy when resting. Because muscle has a higher metabolic rate and therefore uses more energy, it can increase the number of calories your body burns at rest. Its said that 4.5 lbs of muscle mass can increase your RMR by about 50 kcal. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it all adds up.
Resistance training has also been shown to be a powerful ally for women transitioning through menopause by helping reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Resistance training also has beneficial effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. I could go on and on about the benefits of resistance training and muscle because there are so many. The fact is that resistance training and building muscle is lifesaving and has to be part of every woman’s exercise routine.
How to get started
If you’re ready to get started, here are a few simple steps to keep you safe:
- Always warm up! This is crucial. It could be a 5-10 min walk or a dynamic stretching routine.
- Start with bodyweight exercises and learn the proper form before moving on to adding resistance
- Keep it simple. Don’t try to do technically difficult movements. Let your body adjust to the new workout, and always perfect the form first.
- Start with a 20-30 min workout and see how your body feels afterward.
- Always cool-down. Incorporating stretching and/or myofascial release (foam rolling)
- REST!!! Give your body plenty of rest. At least 1-2 days between resistance training sessions.
If you are unsure about how to start or want some help getting the exercises movement right, please feel free to reach out.