Health Life Sport

Weights for Women

  • January 3, 2024
  • 3 min read
Weights for Women

In recent years, there has been a noteworthy increase in menopause awareness, addressing the historical under-researched, misunderstood, and dismissed aspects of women’s health. Notably, only in 1993 were women permitted to participate in clinical trials, even for products tailored to them.

Times are evolving. Menopause information is no longer scarce, and it’s not just a passing mention in medical textbooks. It’s now featured in primetime documentaries, press releases, and social media platforms.

Acknowledging that regular exercise and a healthy diet can help manage menopausal symptoms, it raises a question: What if you’re already doing that? According to the Pure Gym UK fitness report, around 10 million people are current gym members, a number expected to rise over the next decade. Yet, many women who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet still struggle with the fatigue and weight gain linked to perimenopause. The traditional ‘move more, eat less’ approach to weight loss, effective in their 20s, now leaves them exhausted, undernourished, and with increased abdominal fat. As hormones change in perimenopause, so must the training methods.

Understanding the three main types of estrogen – estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3) – is crucial. As estradiol (E2), essential for muscle growth and repair, decreases in perimenopause, women find it increasingly challenging to maintain lean, metabolically active muscle. To counter this, a shift towards high-intensity training methods is recommended, focusing on strength, power, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions stimulates muscle growth and boosts metabolic rates, even in the absence of estradiol.

Women's health and a workout with weights

Despite this, there’s still a prevailing trend among women to opt for lighter weights and higher repetitions, driven by a fear of “bulking up.” However, both men and women naturally lose muscle with age. To address this, heavy lifting not only activates muscle fibres but also stimulates mitochondria production, enhancing resting metabolic rates and combating the middle-aged spread.

While the idea of increasing intensity may seem counterintuitive when already fatigued, proper recovery allows for maximum effort in each session. Trading some long, endurance sessions for shorter, more intense HIIT workouts can significantly improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, enhancing the body’s ability to burn fat for energy.

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in this journey. Eating a protein-rich meal before and after exercise is crucial, and avoiding low-fat options in favor of omega-3 rich foods is advised. Balancing blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity can be achieved by incorporating nutrient-dense carbohydrates from whole grains, root vegetables, pulses, and fruits.

Beyond managing menopausal symptoms, strength training offers numerous health benefits, including stronger bones, youthful skin, improved cognition, and reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

By Natalie Shanahan

About Author

Natalie Shanahan

Natalie Shanahan has a BSc in Genetics and a MSc in Bioinformatics. She worked as a lecturer, teaching genetics and biochemistry, before moving to Australia to work for their first Bioinformatics company. Here she managed their marketing as well as working on their numerous educational resources. Natalie left her career in science to follow her passion and now works as a personal trainer and nutrition consultant, helping individuals and employees of large organisations, better understand their health and wellbeing.

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