MOV.E has been operating in the fitness industry for almost two decades, with many clients who are either now in menopause or peri-menopausal and our goal remains – to help them Live Better.
Living Better, as an active woman or as a performance-based athlete often centres on maintaining their actual physical power on the playing field, whatever that may be.
So how do you maintain the years of dedication and hard work you have put in when society has taught women to devalue their power? That’s especially true during menopause when you’re told it’s time to slow down and are pointed to the cultural sidelines.
Intense, Focused and Transformative Training
As experts in strength & conditioning, our approach is simple:
Dial down the Volume; Ramp up the Intensity.
To be clear, power is different from strength. Strength is your ability to exert force to overcome resistance, like lifting a barbell off a rack. Power includes speed; it’s the force you can generate in a short amount of time. Both are important. But if you want to keep kicking ass as you age, power is key.
While we know what works from years of practical application, evidence-based studies confirm that when comparing traditional strength training (lifting relatively slowly) with power training (lifting with speed) it was determined that power training may be superior for improving physical function in healthy older adults. That makes sense because, as the researchers noted in this 2022 study, power fades more rapidly than strength as we age. And the ability to react and exert force quickly is going to be more helpful for preventing falls and maintaining or improving function than strength alone.
How Menopausal Women Can Maintain AND Improve Power
Three areas of training are essential for power development: heavy lifting (so you maximise your strength); plyometrics (training your muscles to detonate on-demand explosively), and sprint interval training (applying that strength to speed). Each of them is especially beneficial for women in the menopausal transition and beyond.
During menopause, women lose the strength-building stimulus from estrogen. Estrogen is essential for regulating satellite cell function in females; it helps you regenerate muscle stem cells (also known as satellite cells, because they appear to orbit the muscle fiber cells), which help you maintain your muscles. When scientists take estrogen from animals in the lab, their ability to regenerate these cells drops by up to 60 percent. The same is true in women during menopause–estrogen levels are linked to the number of satellite cells.
Resistance training is the best way to generate those muscle-making cells, and lifting heavy provides the strength-building stimulus you need as estrogen declines. Heavy lifting is also beneficial for improving fat-burning metabolism, building bones, and maintaining your cardiovascular health.
An example of a Heavy Lifting component would be 3 to 5 sets of 6 or fewer reps with full rest (i.e. 2 to 5 minutes) between sets. Mechanics is everything. You should be able to complete every rep with good mechanics. When you can’t, you’re done. Heavy lifting is best done on “big lifts” like deadlifts, squats, lunges, and other Olympic lifts that spread the force out among your major muscles, connective tissues, and joints.
Whether you jump, hop, or bound, plyometrics gives your bones and muscles the extra stimulus that comes when you push off against gravity and land back down. It is those impacts—big or small—that generate important physiological changes. For one, they help build bone density, which we lose during the menopause transition. Plyometrics also trigger epigenetic changes or changes in your genes. When you do plyometrics, you wake up some otherwise very quiet genes inside your muscle cells that stimulate those cells to improve power and even the composition of the muscle itself in a way that improves the integrity of the muscle, its contractile strength, and its response and reaction time. They also improve your mitochondria function and insulin sensitivity—both of which are important for menopausal women.
You can start with a simple jumping squat and progress to box jumps and jumping lunges.
Sprint Interval Training
If you want to maintain your top end, you need to train your top end. That’s especially true during the menopause transition. The best type of high-intensity interval training for menopausal women is short, sharp sprint-style intervals lasting about 30 seconds or less. When you extend intervals past 60 seconds, you can get greater increases in the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is good for a surge of energy, but you don’t want those stress-hormone levels to stay elevated longer than necessary to get the job done, especially in menopause when cortisol can already be elevated. With sprint intervals, you still get the benefits–improved insulin sensitivity, stronger mitochondria, improved fat burning (especially deep visceral fat), and an ever-important boost of growth hormone after you finish!
Tabata style workouts where you work for :20 and Rest for :10 across 8 intervals is a great example Sprint Interval Training.
Key Training Takeaways
1. Reduce Training Volume; Increase Intensity.
With the hormonal changes your body is undertaking, general energy levels are going to fluctuate. It’s important to take an intuitive approach to your training. On days where energy levels are abnormally low, rather than beating yourself up and surviving through a long aerobic workout or large-volume lifting sessions – reduce the volume (shorter sprint style workout/ lower rep sets) and increase the intensity (higher heart rate/ heavier weights).
However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid Aerobic Workouts / High Rep sets all together – they just shouldn’t make up the bulk of your training.
2. Focus on Power & Speed.
Bound, Jump and Hop regularly. Whether it’s, jump squats, box jumps, skipping or even Olympic Lifts like power cleans & power snatches, ensure your training is incorporating power training weekly in your training to benefit from physiological and epigenetic changes as a result.
Our expert trainers and chiropractors are here to guide you through a fitness journey that respects and harnesses the changes in your body.
Ready to maintain your edge and redefine menopause? Contact MOV.E Training & Chiropractic. Let’s turn this transition into your most empowering era yet. Contact us today and discover how our specialised training can transform your menopausal journey into a story of strength, speed, and resilience.