Strength training during menopause (one thing to get started)


Nagina Abdullah


April 17, 2019

Strength training during menopause

Guest post by Amanda Thebe, Over 40 Fitness + Health Coach,

Amanda Thebe is the founder of and guides women who are experiencing menopause hell and want to start feeling healthy and fit in their 40s and beyond.

One of the questions so many women ask me is what workouts they should do.

Given I share so much information about food and proper supplementation, I wanted to bring in an expert that tells you the BEST exercises you can do to stay fit. 

My friend Amanda Thebe is an over 40 fitness & health coach, and I’m so excited that she wrote an informative blog article about strength training during menopause. She gives you so much gold in this article!

Here’s Amanda Thebe:

During perimenopause your estrogen levels start to fluctuate and eventually decline leading into menopause, when your periods will stop.  It’s during menopause that women become at an increased risk for some health issues including cardiovascular disease (CVD), osteoporosis, obesity and diabetes. Today I’ll explain why strength training during menopause is so important for you.

Menopause is one of those topics that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, so most women have no idea of what lays ahead for them.  There are things you can proactively do to reduce the likelihood of these diseases occuring and to ease some of the more challenging symptoms.

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Benefits of strength training during menopause

As we age, our ability to build muscle declines, and with the added “gift” of menopause that ability is even more difficult. Estrogen plays a significant role building muscle, so when that hormone starts to decline it becomes more important than ever for you to focus on maintaining and building lean muscle mass.

Lean muscle mass does not equal a big bulging body, in fact usually the opposite is true. Muscle is a compact substance, taking up less space that fat. Which usually sees women dropping dress sizes even if the number on the scale doesn’t move.  This in turn has been shown to be a positive way to reduce your risk of obesity and diabetes.

Building lean muscle has been shown to help keep vasomotor symptoms of menopause in check. Up to 70% of women reported reduced hot flashes and night sweats in a recent study, compared to the cardio bunnies who had a lower amount of lean muscle.

Many of the well-known aging diseases like osteoporosis and CVD are linked with menopause, as estrogen plays a positive role in both heart health and our skeletal muscle.  Once we see a decline in estrogen, it’s important that you actively do everything you can to combat such risks.

What exercise is best for menopause?

So I have convinced you that building lean muscle is the way to go right? Good!  But how do you achieve that? Should you zumba, run, swim or HIIT workouts? How do you actively build lean muscle?  The answer my friend is very simple:

Lift weights!!

The only way to actively create a stimulus and build muscle is strength training. It is possible to start with bodyweight exercises but ultimately this will not add enough stimulus to your muscles to create an change that results in building lean muscle.  I love to combine lifting weight with bodyweight exercises, like the sample workout below.

All the other activities you do in life, including zumba, swimming and running should continue.  I would NEVER tell anybody which exercise type makes them happy and injects energy into their life. But ultimately these activities will not build muscle to support your body through menopause and beyond.  The best way to continue doing these activities is to alternate them with a strength session.

You need to lift weights.

So whether that is group class, a home workout with a YouTube video, a personal training session or a trip to the local gym. You have to start working your body with a resistance that feels challenging, that actually overloads the body and makes changes to its structure.

Ideally you should do strength training 2-3 x per week. The sessions do not need to be long, on average I encourage 30 minutes in a circuit style format. This allows you to lift weights quickly and efficiently AND to get you out of breath, which is going to help with your metabolism and cardiovascular conditioning.

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Example Strength Training During Menopause Session

  • 5 rounds
  • 6 exercises
  • 8-12 reps each exercise
  • Rest as much as you need.

Goblet Squat

Overhead Press

Dumbbell or Kettlebell Deadlift

Side Plank

Lateral Beast Crawls

Stability Ball Glute Raises

In addition to these exercises you can check out my FREE GIFT for you.  I have created a 12-week program of core exercises that you can add into your workout sessions.

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

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