How Long Should Strength Training Sessions for Menopause Be? | ASK the EXPERT Q and A

Strength training sessions for menopause optimization are different. They’re different than you’ve ever done in your life, different than a man of your same age. But repeatedly this question comes up, so I’m paying tribute to it again. Because if we get it wrong we risk losing the benefits we’re really after from strength training and blowing it by turning it into endurance work. 

The Question:

 Debra recommends two strength-training sessions a week. Do we know how long those sessions should be? Angie 

 [and how many days a week does she recommend HIIT]

I’m answering a question from our Insiders Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/flipping50insiders)

 

The best answer to this question will require a lot of science. So, I’m going to give you the Cliff notes version here. 

Then, I’ll elaborate based on the science I’ve shared with our audience in recent month’s masterclasses. 

(The Flipping 50 masterclass is open to the public, tho if you’re not on our subscriber list you may not see the invite. You can find a number of ways to gain support and be included on that invite list in today’s show notes. Recent masterclasses have included: Science of Belly Fat burning after menopause, How to be Older, Fitter, Stronger, not older, fatter, weaker, and Updates on Strength Training in Menopause) 

 The reason we’re hooked on time: 

  •     We have a limited amount and appointments 
  •     Conditioning that a workout, especially cardio workouts or classes, is effectively based on how long they are

[09:40] 

Quality vs Quantity

The truth is though if you do 5 repetitions to fatigue with much heavier weight, you’re going to require far less time to exercise than if you do 15 to 20 repetitions doing a set.

The quality of the workout for metabolism-boosting is not greater because it lasts longer. In fact, the risk of negative cortisol response is greater the longer a workout is. The moment you reach fatigue is a success. It’s all you need. 

When I’m at the end of my sets (meaning I’ve done a good warm-up leading to it) I can sometimes perform just 3 or 5 repetitions… and that set takes less than 15-20 seconds! Because the sets don’t take long when you do fewer repetitions! 

Those types of sets also features some power and a difference in the recruitment of muscle fibers. 

That makes time perhaps, irrelevant. 

 Stronger: https://www.flippingfifty.com/getstronger

 

[14:42]

These 5 components should be divided in each workout:

  •     a warmup

Dynamic warm-up 

  •     a plan of sets and repetitions that safely, and effectively bring you to muscular fatigue 
  •     (Science-based: known to reliably result in gains in muscle strength and lean muscle tissue)

Core 

  •     a cooldown

Usually, there is a requirement of a certain amount of volume:

  •     Number of muscles involved
  •     The number of exercises for each muscle group or body part
  •     A combination of sets and repetitions 
  •     The weight used to reach those parameters

Some people will start with the weights they have available. That may mean they need to do a certain number of repetitions to fatigue. If those weights are light, it will be more repetitions or more creative use of tempo training. With heavier weights, you might find that you can do fewer repetitions.

 Just a note, if you’re a beginner and you can’t lift the weight you have for 15 repetitions, it’s probably a little heavier than I would suggest you begin. 

 [23:17]

The Best Question

So, I suggest you start with an answer to this question. What amount of time are you willing to spend on strength training that will positively transform your energy, strength, stamina and boost your mood and metabolism? 

What’s reasonable for your life (and energy)?

Though that may sound too good to be true. All of it has been proven. A recent study I shared in a Flipping50 masterclass revealed this, “There were no non-responders.” Of all older adults who began a science-based strength training program, designed for them or continued to train with greater focus vs random exercise, 100% of them responded. 

So, back to the question: 

Are you willing to spend 30 minutes twice a week doing that? 40 minutes? Would you spend 60 minutes so you can do a proper warm-up and cool down too?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Consider your past experiences and where you started and stopped. If it was because you over-committed to something you could never do long term, set a shorter realistic time.

The point is, why not make the exercise fit your time, and stop expecting that turning your world upside down to fit a program is feasible! 

 [27:03]

The Short Solution

Will there be days when you only have 10 minutes but want to stay consistent and still do that? For most of us, yes. I have often had these! And for a traditional, want to do more girl, these days I’m too busy to do more… are the universe telling you that less is best when you’re already stressed! 

Resources from Flipping50: 

Sleep Yourself Skinny: https://www.flippingfifty.com/sleep-yourself-skinny-tonight/

Smoothies: 60 of my own and Community Favorites:

https://www.flippingfifty.com/smoothies

5 Day Flip: https://www.flippingfifty.com/5dayflip

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