One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a woman is to strength train. Probably not high on your agenda if you are busy rearing a family, have a jam-packed work life or just generally find the hustle and bustle of everyday life tiring enough.
very day I put clients of all ages through their paces and one thing is certain —strength training benefits everybody. It is no different if you find yourself going through perimenopause or menopause. You may not feel like training, but the benefits far outweigh any feeling of lethargy you may have before you begin.
Motivation is one of the key factors in getting started. We always say in BodyByrne that just making it to the gym is the hardest part.
There are lots of ways you can help yourself in this department alone. Waking up first thing in the morning before work or before your family is a great way to allow yourself even 20 minutes per day to workout — immediately putting on training gear and getting started is, I find personally, one of the best ways to start the day. It’s not easy, but you would be amazed how well you feel after it. This in turn will help with mood, help you to want to eat better throughout the day and will release endorphins to make you generally feel good, while also helping with muscle tone and overall health.
Dealing with issues like insomnia, hot flushes, mood swings, and changes in appetite during menopause can all be used as an excuse not to train. However, in all my years of experience, I will tell you that women going through perimenopause or menopause only feel better from training.
Often women will come to me, concerned about significant weight gain at this time of life. And they are always surprised when a change of mindset to focus on training, a good eating plan and fuelling the body correctly makes the weight, and body fat specifically, come off.
Once you start, you will see energy levels improving, and a wish to focus on eating healthier and getting the right nutrients in to support your body while improving muscle tone.
Today, I have taken four of my favourite exercises to use for women. They will help to improve muscle tone and the appearance of the body, supporting posture. All this in turn will help support the bones and weak joints, while at the same time helping to energise the body.
So find 20 minutes — start today and you will feel the difference before you know it. Complete each exercise 10 to 12 times before moving on to the next. Once you have completed each exercise, that is one set. Aim for three to five sets three to four times a week.
- Start by lying face down with your arms outstretched and your legs straight.
- Raise one arm and the opposite leg at the same time.
- Gently place them down, while repeating the same movement on the opposite side.
2. Flutter Kicks
- Start on your back with your legs straight out in front, slightly off the floor, and your arms by your sides.
- Raise one leg straight up a few inches from the floor, then raise the opposite leg.
- Continue alternating the legs in a scissor-like motion.
3. Crunch Reach
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and your hands on your thighs.
- Lift your head and shoulders off the floor, and slide your hands up to your knees. Next, lower your head, shoulders and hands.
- Continue to repeat this movement, keeping your feet flat throughout.
4. Prisoner Squats
- Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and lock your fingers behind your head.
- Bend at the hips and knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then simply push back up to the starting position and repeat.
- You can substitute this exercise with a straightforward squat if you have balance issues, with hands on hips or by your side.