You may already know this... weight training, or any type of resistance training, can bring about a large variety of health benefits.
What you may not have heard is that weight training can also help ease many of the negative symptoms of menopause. Yes, including hot flashes and excess weight gain. Improved sleep and more energy may also come from a moderate lifting, pulling, or pushing routine. This is especially true for women who aren’t candidates for hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Read on for suggestions and ideas on how to get started.
Why weight training is more important during menopause:
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Both weights and resistance bands are great tools to use to help build muscle tissue. If you’ve got a plan to use either of these under supervision, you’re good to go.
If, however, you’re planning on working out solo, you might want to start with resistance bands. They use your body (and the resistance of the stretchy band) to help tone muscles. The benefit of resistance bands is that you don’t need to worry about dropping a weight on your foot (or your head) if and when your muscles get fatigued.
Review these tips before you jump into a gym or a home gym investment.
Starting a new workout routine is not the time to get all DIY. While we love YouTube instructional videos, we believe you should always head to an expert first, someone who understands both your goals and what’s going on in your body. Get a few pointers and a personalized routine. Once you know the dos and don’ts of strength training, you can start adding some new moves.
One of the easiest ways to sabotage your new strength training routine is to rush it. Rushing your routine can impact you negatively in two ways:
If you want to stick to any new habit, experts recommend starting slow. For example, on day one, maybe you simply put on your sneakers. On day two, show up to the gym for a tour. On day three, interview and hire a trainer. On day four, do some stretching. On day five, head to your first strength training appointment.
Starting anything new can be a little intimidating. But some of us can get super pumped and motivated to the point where we overdo it, which can lead to injury and burnout.
After the initial excitement dies down, we remember how hard those workouts were.
I had no idea squats would make my butt hurt for that many days.
And then we quit.
But when start slow, we remember how easy the previous day’s routine was. Doing a little something every day is what creates new neural pathways in our brains, which help to solidify a routine.
Whether you’re doing cardio or weight resistance exercises, you always want to stretch before and after you work out. Though some experts now recommend stretching only after your workout. Again and always, your best personal bet is to consult with your doctor to determine a stretching regimen that's right for you and your body.
Stretching can help prevent injury. It warms up your muscles and also gets you in the right headspace to start your workout.
The good news is that stretching can also ease some of the symptoms of menopause!
If you’re planning on weight training, you’ll want to skip the static stretches (like the ones you’d do before or after a run). Instead, try some dynamic stretches. These help to loosen your ligaments and muscles — all while warming them up.
If you're doing the same moves over and over, you can overextend those muscles. You can also put too much strain on a muscle group that way. Once you’ve got your “core workout” solidified, ask your trainer to help you switch it up. Or, you can review a few YouTube videos for some inspiration and ideas about how you might add a little resistance.
We all know that you’re going to feel a burning sensation when you work out. But there’s a difference between a good burn and a bad one.
The good burn feels good. The bad one feels like pain.
Good burns generally feel like muscle soreness. Bad feels like sharp or tight pains. (Note: you should never feel a “good” burn in your joints.) And definitely stop doing any exercise that causes you pain.
Talk to your doctor or trainer if you’re experiencing any pain.
It’s really easy to go overboard with exercise. For many, working out can be a real pleasure, so much so that they can go for hours or work themselves out really hard to chase those feel-good chemicals (endorphins) that are released during exercise.
Talk to your doctor and/or trainer to come up with a balanced regimen.
Another great piece of advice is to talk to your doctor before you start a new workout routine. This goes double if you happen to have any injuries.
Your doctor can let you know if any preexisting conditions (such as high blood pressure) might create additional stress on your body’s functions when you’re working out.
Tell your doctor if there’s a history of heart disease in your family or if you have any old injuries that might affect your workout. You should also disclose this information to a trainer if you choose to hire one.
Being honest with your medical and workout team now will help prevent any injuries down the road.
One of the downsides of the Internet is that there’s too much information out there, and it's not all created equal. You’ll find “experts” recommending you work out only in the morning, and others say to do it only in the evening. Some will say you should stretch before (and some recommend only after) your workout. There’s a barrage of information regarding what you should and shouldn’t eat before or after weight training, and it can be confusing, overwhelming, and even paralyzing.
Don’t overload on information. Instead, talk to your doctor and trainer and find what works for you. Then do it.
Don’t lift weights or use resistance bands every day. Your body needs time and space to recover. Space your resistance workouts at least two days apart to give your muscles some recovery time.
No need to opt for 100 percent inactivity on those rest days, though. Switching up your exercise routine can help your body to work different muscle groups. On your off days, try some light yoga (or any stretching, really!) or a little cardio to keep your muscles warm and your energy and focus sustained.
Keep things fresh by integrating activities you already love into your resistance routine. Are you an avid gardener? Pulling weeds works your triceps! If you’re squatting to pull those little devils, all the better. Love to paint? Invest in a larger-than-usual canvas to work those shoulders while you stretch to make larger brushstrokes. Take a salsa or Zumba class to add a different kind of heat and spice to your workout. Enjoy!
What’s your preference? Weight lifting? Resistance bands? A little mix of both? We’d love to hear how weight/resistance training is helping you to navigate through menopause on the Gennev Community Forums. Join us.
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