Strength Training for Menopausal Climbers
The menopause is an age-dependent physiological change that results from the decline in estrogen and progesterone, resulting in cessation of the menstrual cycle. The period over which these hormones decline is called the perimenopause and can last for up to 10 years. Although the age of onset of perimenopause varies between individual, climbers may start to feel changes from their early 40s.
For many of us, climbing is a sport we want to be part of for life. But life has different stages to it, which means we need to transition and adapt our climbing throughout.
Due to the role of estrogen in muscle and bone building, the menopause coincides with a reduction in muscle mass, strength, and bone density.
How can we maintain our strength throughout perimenopause and menopause?
Weights training is a good way to build and maintain muscle mass, and given that many climbers approaching the menopase have built up a good foundation of climbing experience, it may be a good time to add in some off-the-wall exercises.
Using weight training allows specific muscles to be targeted with basic movements and makes it easy to progressively load. Working within the right sets/reps/intensity is important to yield muscle synthesis and strength adaptations.
Working with hypertrophy and strength ranges is a high intensity form of training, so it is important to learn to lift correctly, and get comfortable with weight-based exercises before pushing the training.
In order to monitor whether your strength training is working for you, schedule in testing sessions. This could be around every 4-6 weeks.
As we get older, our strength in eccentric (lengthening) movements does not decrease as quickly as our concentric (shortening) strength, therefore, consider using eccentric movements initially when pushing the training load or past plateaus.
Don’t spread yourself too thin! Rather than trying to strengthen all your muscles at once focus on 2-3 exercises and do them consistently.
You can never start strength training too early! Even if you’re not menopausal yet!
Want to learn more? Check out our women’s training series.
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