In this article we will explore the benefits of weight training during the perimenopause. It is estimated that there are currently in the region of 13 million perimenopausal or menopausal women in the United Kingdom, equating to around one-third of the entire female population. 

However, as people enter the perimenopause phase you’ll often hear of the following complaints:

I feel anxious, I don’t want to go to the gym/yoga/swimming etc

My joints ache and I keep getting injured when I exercise

I’m putting on weight, but I haven’t changed my diet

When you begin perimenopause OESTROGEN begins to DROP and this can cause the following symptoms:

  • Reduced Bone Density
  • Increased injury risk and recovery time after injury
  • Aching Joints
  • Changes in body temperature – including hot flushes and night sweats
  • Weight gain due to changes in how the body utilises starches and blood sugars
  • Insomnia or poor sleep quality due to sweats and/or anxiety

And all of these can impact the individual mentally and emotionally, causing LACK OF MOTIVATION, LACK OF CONFIDENCE and LACK OF SELF TRUST IN THE BODY to exercise.

Weight training during perimenopause

Weight training during the perimenopause is the most optimal exercise for increasing and maintaining muscle mass and bone density. It also develops and maintains proprioception. 

We lose MUSCLE MASS as we age, up to 3% a year from 30 and up to 8% per year from 40 onwards:

“A large number of studies in the past few years showed that after age 40, people typically lose 8 percent or more of their muscle mass each decade, a process that accelerates significantly after age 70. Less muscle mass generally means less strength, mobility and among the elderly, independence….”

“…people don’t have to lose muscle mass and function as they grow older. The changes that we’ve assumed were due to ageing and therefore were unstoppable seem actually to be caused by inactivity. And that can be changed.”

It is estimated that on average, women lose up to 10% of their bone mass in the first 5 years after menopause

It is estimated that on average women lose up to 10% of their bone mass in the first 5 years after menopause.

“Mechanical loading is a fundamental factor for bone mass accretion. The principle of the loading phenomenon was first developed by Frost [73] and is also known as the Mechanostat theory. This theory suggests that the bone possesses an inherent biological system to elicit bone formation in response to high mechanical strains, thereby strengthening the bone. This system involves the bone cells, mainly osteocytes, that can detect and respond to mechanical loading.”

How to structure your training to reduce the impact of perimenopause

You only need two well programmed STRENGTH training sessions per week to get the benefits: they should be full body,  training all of the joints and progressively overloaded. This will look like a mixture of machines, free weights and bodyweight movements which are slowly progressing in difficulty or load over time. The program should be repeated for a minimum of 4-6 weeks, this is to allow time for adaptation. Each individual’s program will be written specific for their needs and ability.

You should also include lower impact weight bearing exercise, for 15-30 minutes, of some form 3-5 times per week for example: Walking, hiking, jogging, dancing / jumping, tai chi, yoga, pilates and so on…this is a great way to socialise too. 

To support your training routine focus on building your meals around a good protein source and include vitamin d in your diet. 

Weight training also helps improve confidence in the individual and develops the self trust that’s often lost during this phase of life. It offers you a reliable investment in your health and wellbeing.

Tips for finding a coach or personal trainer:

  1. Ask around for someone who comes recommended. If you see a sports masseuse, physio or osteopath ask them for recommendations. 
  2. Have a thorough consultation with the coach or personal trainer, ask questions!
  3. Ask them for an example of the training they would prescribe you and check it aligns with your research and the recommendations in this article.
  4. Don’t be discouraged if you speak to a few people who don’t align with your goals, the right coach will be out there for you, be patient and don’t feel inclined to sign up to the first person you have a consultation with!
  5. The training should not be focused on weight loss but on strength and muscle gain. Weight loss can come as a byproduct if this is a goal of yours and it is paired with nutrition coaching.

It really never is too late to start. Weight training can be adapted to each individual’s needs and abilities, so what are you waiting for?

July Styles is head coach and founder of Train with Sculpt, offering you a sustainable solution to strength and fitness in a small and inclusive coaching facility in Nottingham City Centre.
For more information about the Train with Sculpt services or facility visit our One Stop Wellbeing profile with links to our socials here!

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