This past year, I switched up my training routine. With less of a focus on cardio and an emphasis on heavy weights, I finally found my best body. I got it from lifting. And with my 40's looming near and my OB/GYN alerting me that I'm reaching the end of my fertility, I started researching some other benefits of strength training. Here are the reasons why women in their 40's (and late 30's!) should be strength training.
1.You're losing progesterone.
Most women go through menopause between the ages of 45-55. They'll experience hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain and slowed metabolism. Weight training in your early 40's can make these symptoms much more tolerable. Even if you’re not pre-menopausal, you can start now! While lifting weights won't delay the onset of menopause, it can help to prevent the symptoms of menopause. Strength training decreases body fat, increases muscle mass, and optimizes hormones.
2. Muscle burns fat.
The more muscle mass that you have on your body, the easier it is to stay lean. I promise. I eat what I want now and it's because I put a ton of muscle on my body and muscle is metabolically active. The best way to lose fat is to build muscle. Lifting heavier will help you burn fat, speed up your metabolism, and give you muscle definition.
3. Strength training builds stronger bones.
Another benefit of strength training (especially right before menopause)? It's the # 1 way to keep your bones strong. Jill suggested that 70% of my fitness routine should be weights. Strength training is linked to high bone mineral density in adults of all ages and both sexes.
And it's helpful even after menopause! Because osteoporosis risk is much higher following menopause (lack of estrogen = lack of bone density), strength training is especially vital. Strength training will help to build bone and muscle strength (and burn body fat!).
4. Muscle helps combat the symptoms of menopause.
Most women go through menopause between the ages of 45-55. They'll experience hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain and slowed metabolism. Weight training in your early 40's can make these symptoms much more tolerable. Even if you’re not pre-menopausal, you can start now!
While lifting weights won't delay the onset of menopause, it can help to prevent the symptoms of menopause. Strength training decreases body fat, increases muscle mass, and optimizes hormones.
5. High-intensity training causes your body to produce cortisol (that damn stress hormone!)
How do you know if your workout is too intense? Jill taught me that if you're starving after a workout, that workout caused your body to produce too much cortisol (which causes you to store fat -especially around your midsection!). And in our late 30's and early 40's we don't have all that progesterone to block that cortisol anymore, remember? For someone who is not nearing the end of their fertility, high intensity workouts are fine, but for someone my age, all of that high intensity may be working against you.
6. Cardio is low leverage.
For years, I was all about the cardio. I thought that daily cardio and calorie restriction was the formula to lose weight. That failed me. Because? Metabolic compensation (your metabolism slows down when you’re not eating enough). For as much as I was working out, I wasn't eating enough and my body compensated by holding onto every calorie I put in it. I had destroyed my metabolism. I learned from Jill that like tires on a car, my years of yo-yo dieting and disordered eating put mileage on my metabolism and wore its traction, so it wasn't as responsive as it once was. So now I'm lifting. Heavy. Like heavier than I lifted as a division one collegiate athlete. I had convinced myself that I was over all the cardio (like I tell everyone I am) but I guess if I'm posting the split times of my 6 mile runs on my Instagram story, maybe not so much. I realized this when Jill asked me, "are you training for a race?" She had a point....I am not. I've been running 6 miles for time. I'm left sweaty and breathless but as Jill explained, “that’s not what you want at your age." She said that if I'm going to run, run FAST (not paced) but only for a mile or two. Focus on shorter, more intense runs vs. paced long runs if you're looking for results in your physique. Anything else will not give you the bang for your buck. (For my entire conversation with Jill Coleman (@JillFit), click here.) So why listen to all of this? Why trust this at all? Why believe that it's weights over cardio? I give you... Exhibit A: Jill Coleman.
The picture on the left = 2-3 hours of cardio daily. The picture on the right? 20-30 minutes of weight training daily.
Haven't bought in yet? I give you...
Exhibit B: Virginia Petersen.
While speaking at Virginia's Bodymass Gym, I asked her to stand up and spin around, showing the group her fantastic body. Then I asked her how much cardio she does. She held up a big ol' ZERO. The group fell silent (and me too, because I was expecting at least a "just once or twice a week, but NOPE!). Guys, zero. And LOOK at her. The proof is in the pictures. These professionals have found this formula (heavy weight training) and I happened to stumble upon it too.
BONUS: Lifting weights is the best way to detox alcohol.
This one obviously got my attention. If anyone is on a Squats and Margaritas plan like me and may not be feeling stellar after a night of cocktails- LIFT. Muscle is a detoxifier and will work to keep your body's system clean.
So there ya go.
I'm officially converted.