Metabolism slows, goes, or speeds up due to multiple factors. One is hydration. If you’re not drinking enough water, start.
Let’s not blame a slowing metabolism on your hormones. Not, at least, the ones that have changed during menopause. Cortisol is there for both genders and all ages. Your lifestyle habits are more responsible for your fitness outcome before, during, and after menopause than anything else. It’s true hormones may change the game and be your albatross until you change your strategy to exercise, but they are not to blame. Life is change.
Exercise, thought of as the magical elixir for boosting metabolism, historically through calorie burning, can fail you if you’re approaching 50 or in the second half already.
You have to reach fatigue.
That is not the same as getting tired during exercise.
Any exercise can make you tired: the question is, does it make you better?
Fatigue of the major muscle groups is what I’m talking about. This is when you simply can’t lift another one well without cheating or losing form. No matter what age you are this will always be the mechanism that helps you truly change muscle.
During the recovery period of time after exercise the muscle repairs and rebuilds not just in compensation for the work during exercise. The body overcompensates such that the body gets stronger. It’s why what used to feel heavy to you now feels light if you’ve been exercising for a period of time.
Fatigue is more important to you as an adult in the second half because in order to hold on to lean muscle, or to add some lean muscle to your frame so that you’re stronger, more toned, and can overcome the loss of muscle that otherwise will occur with aging, you must have this overcompensation happen.
When to Go Heavy
That said I share this disclaimer: it’s not wise or necessary to start with heavy or to reach fatigue. In the first one to two months of strength training the neural connection – that is, your brain recruiting more muscle fibers – is responsible for all of your progress. Heavier doesn’t help that process. Lighter weights allow the ligaments, joints, and muscles to adapt. This all happens within 6-8 weeks.
But if you’ve been lifting for quite some time and think you’re on “maintenance,” you’re probably going backwards. The body adapts quickly. Stopping at an arbitrary number of repetitions or because you’ve moved fast and furious in a boot camp and you’re tired, is not the same type of intensity you need to boost your resting metabolism for good.
The more intense your exercise the better chance you’ll boost your energy spend during and after that exercise. Intensity comes from different places and the best gage of whether you’re going to boost metabolism without having to spend hours in the gym regularly is how much lean muscle you have compared to how much fat you have.
For women approaching or over 50, the best application of intensity comes from fatigue of major muscle groups.
You don’t want isolation of each individual muscle, but integration by using compound exercises that move large muscles of the chest, back and legs. Focus on these reduces your time and the frequency of your need to exercise with weight training also.
There is not a time restraint if the goal is fatigue. Dozens of reps done in classes for an hour aren’t necessary. Daily time using different muscle groups may not serve your metabolism boost like a full body workout less often. One or two times a week focus on major muscle groups can serve you very well if you’re crunched for time, and even if you’re not.
The difference between fatigue and tired is big.
It’s the difference between fatter and fitter.