Hitting this period of life, regardless of the age you go through it, can be so tough.
Some women are lucky and feel very few, if any, effects. The more common story is one of weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, crazy body temperatures and frustration.
There are 4 things Perimenopausal women should be doing in their training to help overcome these negative symptoms. Trust me when I say you can still be competitive, you can still PB and PR your workouts and you def don’t have to stop and let this change take over your life.
1 – HIIT Training
Now most that know me know that “HIIT” is a particular annoyance of mine as it is one of the most over used, and wrongly used phrases in the fitness industry. Check out my blog post here to learn more (HIIT – are you doing it right)
However, executed properly it is has huge benefit and for this you def shouldn’t be doing any interval for more than a minute and the ideal for menopause is 30 seconds.
Firstly, it improves insulin sensitivity and lowers fasting blood sugar levels. This is especially helpful during the menopause transition when blood sugar can be harder to manage. It is also good for your general cardiovascular and metabolic health.
Secondly, it improves your fat burning ability and helps manage visceral fat (the deep internal fat) which usually increases during menopause.
Finally, when done right, it puts a high demand on your muscles, which in turn sends a message to your brain that you need more human growth hormone (HGH). This increases your testosterone levels, which helps build or regain muscle mass, increasing your power and performance.
2 – Strength Training
This doesn’t necessarily mean throwing a heavy barbell around, although if thats your jam then do it. Strength training can mean free weights (kettlebells and dumbbells), resistance bands and even bodyweight exercises. It needs to be strength work though rather than muscular endurance work to be truly effective so think heavier weights and shorter reps per set, rather than long sets of 15/20 reps.
The risk of osteoporosis rises substantially following menopause due to the decrease in estrogen, which is needed to help build, repair and strengthen bone) so strength training is especially vital.
Effective strength training will help to build bone as well as increase muscle strength, burn fat and help boost your metabolism.
3 – Plyometrics (or Jump Training)
Jumping is often overlooked but it is brilliant for building strong muscles, bones and joints and making them overall more resilient. It also helps produce and reinforce strong and powerful muscle contractions and as our estrogen levels decrease we lose the hormonal stimulus to do this so jumping overcomes this loss.
Adding in some plyometrics to your weekly routine can also increase your bone density building stronger bones. It can strengthen your joints, especially knee and hip joints and help keep the joint cartilage healthy plus it’s generally good for your cardiovascular health.
Simple ways to add jump training into your weekly routine: Box Jumps, Skipping, Jumping Jacks, Squat Jumps and Jump Lunges.
*As always though make sure you know the correct form for these movements as done incorrectly you can mess yourself up so seek a coaches help if unsure.
4 – Balance Work
Balance is a neurological skill, which means it can’t be trained. It has to be practised. Doing some balance work is hugely beneficial for all athletes but adding it to your regular routine for combatting the menopause is a really smart move.
Women suffering with vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats etc) can often find they become less stable so it makes sense to work on building your stability and balance.
It can be as simple as practising standing on one leg, and then once you get good at this, doing it with your eyes closed or add in throwing and catching a ball. Or, you can work on moves that also combine some strength work such as Single Leg Deadlifts or Single Leg Squats.