Two listener questions beg the answer to the best exercise schedule at midlife. So, in this episode, I’ll share the answer to both and reflect on the science of frequency and intensity of the variables leading to fitness for women in midlife. To do that I’ll define it for you in case you’re wondering just what is that? The questions:
What is the best exercise schedule for midlife women?
Would working upper body 30 – 45 mins every 96 hours, and lower 30 – 45 mins every 96 hours, be ok since I’m getting at least 72 hours rest between muscle groups? For example, Monday Upper, Wednesday lower, Friday Upper, Monday Lower, Wednesday upper.
What’s the Best Exercise Schedule at Midlife? Science-Based Women Over 50
Would weight training 2 times and HIIT 2 times per week still apply? (I’m 44)
I’m used to doing a demanding kettlebell workout 3-4 times per week for 15-20 minutes and some sort of daily exercise. I feel fatigued and bloated, especially leading to my cycle, despite a healthy diet making it hard to juggle work, family, and young daughter.
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First, let’s define midlife and agree that Nicole at 44 with a 5-year-old, or Nicky or you listening who are in your mid-50s or 60 all qualify as midlife. If you’re in that stage of peri which starts in early 40s for most women or post-menopause and still balancing hormones to benefit your muscle, body composition, and bones, you’re there.
So, in case you’re not Nicole and there’s no 5-year-old, stay with me. This will apply to you too.
The biggest insight here, is “I feel fatigued and bloated.” She added, especially before my cycle.
Exercise that Makes You Tired or Doesn’t Help Boost Energy Needs a Change!
I’ll start with fatigued. The way you feel tells you the results of your collective lifestyle habits. So, let’s change them if you’re not feeling good. I’d suggest using that and adjusting.
As a coach, whether a woman comes to me already fatigued or becomes fatigued doing a certain protocol, that immediately changes the protocol.
So, Nicole, coach yourself. Exercise should make you feel good, strong and enjoy more energy than without it. Since that’s not happening for you, make a change.
To comment on the doing a demanding kettlebell workout 3-4 times a week. Though its short 15-20 minutes, it still may not have 2 important features:
- Reaching muscular fatigue each set (in major muscle groups)
- Allowing adequate recovery between exercise
These are both crucial for exercise that targets the biggest goals we have of optimal strength, lean muscle, optimal body fat, function, and aren’t just exercise that makes you tired.
Measure your body composition. Monitor your lean muscle and your body fat percent.
If you’re where you want to be, but fatigued and bloated, and like the kettlebell workout I’d suggest you put more rest days between workouts and see what happens. Then over time, use your body composition and muscle mass numbers to inform a need for change or confirm you’re doing okay. Last, make a change in your monthly schedule so each week is not the same.
Questions for Nicole:
How’s your diet? Your sleep? In midlife, those become more important. A lack of micronutrients or of high-quality protein and whole foods will catch up with you too. Exercise can’t help you overcome those.
Exercise for Your Cycle
As for the increased fatigue and bloat before a period, both women who still have a period and those who don’t are wise to exercise is in periodization style setup. Exercise for your cycle suggests from the day of your period those two weeks are a time to focus on strength and intensity. That is, plenty of heavy training fatiguing major muscle groups in two workouts a week and doing HIIT 2 or 3 times a week for short 15–20-minute sessions.
In the last two weeks of your cycle, you ease off the intensity and tend more toward higher reps and lighter weights, still reaching fatigue. But in the last week you do more recovery work and based on fatigue you don’t “push” through, you may want to take the recovery and do other restorative activities.
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To review, and summarize the science current for exercise in menopause and for older adults:
Twice weekly strength training
Reaching muscle fatigue in each set
Using 8-10 major muscle groups for total body
Performing at least 2-3 sets of each exercise
Two-three times a week HIIT
No more than 45 minutes a week total HIIT
Movement most days of the week
Catering to personal preferences and personal needs (functional movement)
Adequate recovery between high-intensity exercise
Monitor lean muscle mass and body composition for measures of success.
Other Episodes You May Like:
9 Ways to Measure Fat & Body Composition | Best & Worst:
TOTAL Body or SPLIT ROUTINE Strength Training in Menopause | #453:
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