Fuel Your Strength 375 - Strength Training Changes for Peri-Menopause and Post-Menopause with Dr. Stacy Sims

Strength Training Changes for Peri-Menopause and Post-Menopause w/ Dr. Stacy Sims

Many women dont realize that as we age, our training and fueling routines need to change with us. But how do we do this when there are so many nutrition trends out there that are so easy to get sucked into? The answer is in this 2 part episode where we dive into the research beyond how to fuel and move your body in peri-menopause, menopause, and beyond.

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Key Takeaways

If You Are Looking to Change Your Training Routine as You Enter Your 40s, You Should:

  1. Remember that women are not small men and most guidelines out there need to be adjusted for your changing body
  2. Drop the moderate intensity crap and focus on high-intensity speed and power to see the results you want
  3. Take a step back to re-learn the difference between being tired from exercise or tired from stress

Women Are Not Small Men with Dr. Stacy Sims

Stacy T. Sims, Ph.D., is an applied researcher, innovator, and entrepreneur in human performance, specifically sex differences in training, nutrition, and environmental conditions. She is a regularly featured speaker at professional and academic conferences, including those hosted by US Olympic Committee, High-Performance Sport NZ, and USA Cycling, she is a Senior Research Associate at AUT University and resides at the beach in Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand with her husband and young daughter.

Listen To Your Body and the Research

When a woman enters her 40s, her body composition starts to change. Many people associate the symptoms of these changes with low sleep, high stress, and try to do more training to counter it. None of these are the appropriate types of stress that your body needs in order to mitigate these changes. Women need specific changes to their training routine, along with nutrition, to support their bodies throughout their 40s and beyond. Proper sleep, high-intensity workouts, and polarizing your training in order to recover are key.

Change Is a Good Thing

Often as women are approaching peri-menopause they are nervous about getting bulky or are told to switch to moderate intensity workouts. Dr. Stacy is here to say that is absolutely not the case. Physiologically women respond better to speed and power, and if anything we should be increasing the intensity of our workouts when we can, and bookending them with softer workouts for our recovery. This is just one example of the necessary ways you need to change your training routine in order to support your changing body and hormones.

Are you excited for Part 2 of Dr. Stacy Sims’ knowledge and experience? Share which of her tips you loved most from this episode with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Why the phases of your menstrual cycle should impact how you train (11:35)
  • Some of the changes that you can expect to see when entering peri-menopause (14:49)
  • How to shift the way that you strength train as you enter your 40s and beyond (18:42)
  • Why the ‘moderate intensity’ for women in their 40s is the exact opposite of what you should be doing (26:22)
  • Tips for changing up your training and eating routine in order to stress your body and see results (33:52)

Quotes

“They attribute it to life stress, but it’s not. Well, some of it is life stress of course. But when we pull it back to physiology and we see this change over these ratios, and our bodies are also trying to adjust.” (16:26)

“What we are trying to do when we get into our 40’s, is look for an external stress that is going to help support what the hormones used to do, or augment what the hormones can do.” (19:55)

“You need to work with someone who knows how to do proper movement.” (23:26)

“We don’t know what it is like to be uncomfortable. We have air-conditioned houses, we have heating in the winter, we go outside in the summer, and we don’t know what it truly means to be uncomfortable, so our bodies never adapt.” (32:05)

“We are really trying to get people to understand what it feels like, and teach themselves because we have lost that. We have lost what it feels like to be tired from physical activity, versus being tired from stress. So we are trying to teach that.” (37:41)

Featured on the Show

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Next Level: Your Guide to Kicking Ass, Feeling Great, and Crushing Goals Through Menopause and Beyond with Dr. Stacy Sims

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HTK 077: Women are Not Small Men with Dr. Stacy Sims

Strength Training Changes for Peri-Menopause and Post-Menopause w/ Dr. Stacy Sims

Steph Gaudreau
You are a 40 Something woman who loves to train you are athletic, you love all of the things lifting and peloton and hiking and yoga, and all of it. And you’re doing your best to fuel and train in a way that supports your body but you are confused and getting drawn in by some of the most popular nutrition trends of today. Are these nutrition trends? Are these ways of eating really a good fit for our female physiology for women who are approaching the menopause transition? Or not? What does the research say? We have a very special guest coming back to the show today to walk you through the physiology and what you really need to know about training and nutrition as you progress through your 40s into perimenopause and beyond and this show is so epic that I decided to break it into two different episodes. So this is going to be part one focused on the training of the exercise piece. And then part two coming next week, and we’ll dive all the way into the nutrition if you’re an athletic 40, something woman who loves lifting weights, challenging yourself, and doing hardship, the fuel your strength podcast is for you. You’ll learn how to eat, train, and recover smarter. So you build strength and muscle have more energy and perform better in and out of the gym.

Steph Gaudreau
I’m strength nutrition strategist and weightlifting coach Steph Gaudreau. The fuel your strength podcast dives into evidence-based strategies for nutrition training and recovery. And why once you’re approaching your 40s and beyond, you need to do things a little differently than you did in your 20s. We’re here to challenge the limiting industry narratives about what women can and should do in training and beyond. If that sounds good, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s go!

Steph Gaudreau
Welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited that you’re here. You have landed on Oh, this is going to be a spicy double episode this week and next week with none other than Dr. Stacy Sims. Dr. Sims was on the podcast in 2017 and the first time she was with us, and you know what? We’re continuing to still learn about female exercise physiology, especially as it relates to things like being in your 40s going through perimenopause, now being post menopause and how do these things change? How does exercise change? How does fueling a nutrition change what is different now that we’re approaching this different season of life, Dr. Sims is back and she’s breaking it all down for you? We are going to in part one, get into training, exercise, how things need to be different, and how you can start tweaking your exercise routine so that you actually start getting the results that you want, instead of putting yourself further behind. Part two coming next week is going to deal with the nutrition. And I know you’re going to want to stick around for that because we get far into it. And you’re probably going to be surprised by a lot of what you hear. Before we dive in want to remind you about strength nutrition unlocked. This is my high-level coaching program for 40-something women who are really looking to take action on making changes by fueling your training and your recovery so that you build muscle, you are improving your strength and your energy is on point. Look, we can do the hard shit. We just can’t keep doing the same stuff that we did in our 20s and our 30s. So to find that application, head over to StephGaudreau.com/apply. Alright, without further ado, let’s jump into it with Dr. Stacey Sims.

Steph Gaudreau
Welcome back to the podcast.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Well, thanks for having me excited to chat again.

Steph Gaudreau
I am so excited because it’s been five years since you were on the podcast.

Dr. Stacy Sims
How long…that long?

Steph Gaudreau
I know. 2017 I looked it up you were, I think episode 70 or 71. And we’re at this point 370 something? Well, yeah. Thanks. It’s been a trip. It’s been a trip. It’s been over almost seven years since I started the show. So you know, I couldn’t have done it though without guests like yourself. And I’m, this is why I’m so excited now to bring folks back on the show. Because, you know, I mean, some things have changed in your world. Some things haven’t. But I really appreciate your steadfastness in a lot of the things You talk about and you’re trying to help women athletes, and I’m just so excited to have you here to talk about all the things, and I’m sure we’re gonna get into it.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yes, for sure.

Steph Gaudreau
So for anyone who has maybe not, I don’t know, maybe they’re just under the wrong Instagram rock, and they don’t know about what you’ve been up to, for the last five years. Fill us in on what have you been working on? Tell us about the TED Talk. Because that kind of exploded everything for you, like fill us in on the last few years of what you’ve been up to?

Dr. Stacy Sims
Well, finally, after 20, some years of academia and pushing messaging about how women are not small men, and we need to be looking at our own hormone profiles, people started listening, I was very excited. So I’m really pushing the fact that we have different hormone profiles from puberty, all the way through to menopause. And each one of those requires us to look at training and nutrition differently. And in that look of training and nutrition, we have to also remember that we are different from it. And almost every testing protocol, every program, written every kind of periodization model isn’t based on male data. And our physiology is different. We’re born with sex differences. And then they really explode when we have estrogen progesterone that is exposed to our bodies are exposed to. And then when we kind of hit that Peri and post-menopause, and they start to taper down. And there’s another change that we need to be aware of. So really been pushing that over the past five years, and pushing it out with a TED talk, pushing out with online education. Work came out in 2016. And our new book comes out in about two and a half weeks. So excited. Yeah, so really trying to push all the things.

Steph Gaudreau
All the things. So your TED talk was called what?

Dr. Stacy Sims
“Women Are Not Small Men”

Steph Gaudreau
Yes, women are not small men. And you know, what’s been the response from that? I guess, you know, there are always these communities online, where things are in, we’re all kind of in our little bubbles, or we’re in tangential like related bubbles. And we’re like, oh, yes, this is happening. But have you received any sort of opposite reaction to your TED Talk? Or the things that you’re talking about? Anybody kind of dissenting or are likes to argue this is a selfish question because I feel like I get a lot of pushback on things and I’m just wondering if some of the same like the support and also the sort of like, the people who want to argue with you on that.

Dr. Stacy Sims
I stopped looking at comments on my TED talk because you’d have all these women who were like, yeah, yeah, this is great resonates, I understand it, finally, someone’s talking about periods finally, someone talking about this. And then you’d have the troll man who would come in and just be segregating on what I looked, or how I walk, or what I said, had nothing to do with the topic it had to do with me. And we see that like writing for the conversation and writing things about female athletes and the socio-cultural aspects and all the things that can push buttons. It’s always the push back on the femininity, or how you look or how you speak. It’s never about the topic. But if we do get pushed back on the topic, it’s from people who aren’t that educated about the whole thing, because they’ve been listening to their male coach, or they have grown up at the grassroots of some ideal of what women are supposed to look like or be like, or, or how they’re supposed to be presented, or they have listened just to Fitsbo are very pulled into the fake, what people look like on Instagram and not listening to the science. And then when they become educated, and they start implementing things like oh, I get it makes sense now. So yeah, it’s, it’s been quite interesting. And I don’t read comments anymore, because now I get a little PTSD from them. I will answer like on Instagram, or Facebook or something when people are engaged and want that, but if it’s just some kind of negative thing, I just take a step back. Because normally, you’re not going to win, because if it’s on social media, people don’t have filters. They don’t want to learn necessarily, right. And I’m sure you’ve experienced that, too. They’re just like, yeah, this is my opinion and this is how it’s gonna be, and I’m gonna make you change your mind.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I hear that. And I think, you know, it’s important for everyone listening to you to know that people like you, and me, and like everyone who’s really on social media to some degree, like sometimes they hear people helping out with running accounts and stuff, but like, we’re real people, and we’re not immune to that we have feelings.

Dr. Stacy Sims
I know. I know. I think the most telling was like coming from an academic background and explaining science and you show up for a presentation. And you’re explaining things explaining protocols, displaying outcomes, and people get engaged in that I want to ask questions about it. Then when you bring it to social media, people all of a sudden are the Google expert. And they counter you with someone’s paper that someone else wrote and might be a systematic review or something and they haven’t done the Mahi or the work behind it. And they don’t understand how you create a science project, or the scientific design or the work that goes in it, or a literature review. And it’s really frustrating. When you come from an academic background, people are engaging, and then all of a sudden, you’re trying to be truthful and bring the science to light and you don’t have an agenda. But people push back against it. Because, again, it’s against some of their beliefs, or it’s against something we’ve heard, so quick on the keyboard to Google something that’s going to be contrary and be like, what about this, this, this, this? And then I feel like I have to go back in and explain that science to them and why it might not be what they really perceive it to be?

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely, it’s hard out there in the trenches, y’all. So it is a little compassion, please, for those of us on social doing the thing. You know, I know that a lot of the listeners here are pretty well versed in sort of overall broad brushstrokes of the menstrual cycle. But for anyone who might not be can you give us sort of the elevator pitch, especially with regards to things like what’s going on, generally, with general hormone changes throughout the to, you know, the different phases of the cycle, or that you have some cycle, like what’s going on there, I guess is a starting point. And it will launch into some of these things that you are very brilliant in talking about some of the things that we see a lot out there in the world with clients and members of the community that were just like, please stop doing that, because it’s not actually helping you. I think having this grounding, of what goes on in the cycle will be a good start.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Sure. So if we look at it, it’s like the textbook 28 days. And we know that women don’t really have 28 days, but day one is the first day bleeding all the way through to the next day. And so approximately 14 days your estrogen progesterone is low. So day one around day 14. And estrogen starts to come up around 12. And it has a surge right before ovulation, which is around that day 1314. It dips down and then it starts to come up. And after ovulation, you have the degradation of the guests a sack the egg was in and that’s what creates professor. So estrogen and progesterone start to come up over the next around 14 days. And so progesterone stops being produced, and they both take a dive. And when they take a dive your uterine lining sheds, and this is your belief cycle. When we look at what those hormones do, it’s more than reproductive, their estrogen progesterone receptors are all over your body. And they are sensitive to these changes, we see changes in things like your autonomic nervous system changes in plasma volume changes in fueling your mood, and cognition, all of these things that are affected by the motivation of estrogen progesterone changing across the menstrual cycle phase. And as necessary, women’s bodies are made to handle that. And this is what I mean when we’re born with sex differences. And then we have even more changes when we get this exposure to these hormones that fluctuate up and down. So I guess it’s not really an elevator pitch. But that’s a general.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, that helps. That helps tell us just a jumping-off point just in case you know, sometimes you have people who are new to the show they’ve they’ve not heard this before. And we’re definitely going to link back to your first appearance on the show. So we can dive more into sort of the general menstrual cycle stuff for people who are in that that pre menopause phase, but a lot of the listeners of this show are in their 40s they’re maybe not quite yet it like maybe not started perimenopause yet maybe a little bit in that phase already, or hurtling toward it very quickly. So I would really love to hear you talk about it and share it with them. What are some of the changes that we’re starting to see? As we’re getting into our 40s Especially as they’re relevant to lifting athletics endurance sports as I told you we’re talking about before the show started. A lot of my listeners are not just lifting weights kind of people. They love lifting and peloton and running and yoga and hiking. Like they want to do it all. Fair enough. But these can these things can start to cause a problem. So as we’re getting into our 40s with regard to the menstrual cycle and some of those things that training what are we starting to see is changing.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So what’s happening is we’re getting a changeover in the ratio of estrogen progesterone, so we’ll have more and Abila Tory cycles. So what that means is you might start to see You change the length of your cycle, you might not see a change in the length of your cycle, but you’ll see changes in your bleed pattern. So when you start noticing these little nuances of changes in your bleed pattern or changes in the length of your cycle, then we know that we’re having these changes in our hormone ratios. And what happens with the perimenopause is starting to get into that and with this change in ratios, we become more estrogen dominant. When we become more estrogen dominant, we start to see an increase in body fat. So we might see that we’re getting more abdominal adiposity, we might be putting a little bit more on the back of our arms. We’re not recovering as well, we’ve lost our mojo, and we wake up tired, even though we’ve had a really good sleep. Our moods change rapidly. And a lot of people put this into the category of Oh, you’re in your early 40s. This is a time when there’s a lot of stress from kids or older parents’ career stress, you’re driving at the top of what you should be doing at this point in your life because you’re suddenly reaching the pinnacle of your career or kids or whatever it is.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So they attributed it to life stress. But it’s not it’s well, some of it, of course, is life stress, but we start pulling it back down to physiology. And we see this change over these ratios, our bodies are also trying to adjust. And as we get further and further into it, we start seeing a whole bunch of body composition changes. And unfortunately, the response and so many women’s mindset is to train more, eat less, which compounds the problem. Because then we get into a low energy state, we’re not fueling appropriately, we stay in this breakdown state, which then again causes us to lose more lean mass and put on body fat. And as we start seeing more and more shifts of less progesterone and more estrogen, we are on this projectile to lose bone mass to lose lean mass and to become more insulin intolerant, I guess is the best way to put it. And we see all these changes occurring before menopause. So in our 40s, we start having all these body composition changes and people are attributing it to low sleep and high stress. And you know, they’re trying to do more training to counter it, whether it be more peloton high intensity coupled with lifting or orange theory, and all these are not the appropriate types of stress that the body should be under to mitigate these changes.

Steph Gaudreau
Mm-hmm. Okay, so let’s dive into some more specifics here. Because I’m sure that some brains just melted a little bit, or people were like, wait, what, what’s going on? So let’s maybe talk about the training piece first, and then maybe shift into some of the nutritional nuances with training. You know, as you said, a lot of people will start to see these changes, they’re like, this isn’t good, I’m gonna go back to what I’ve always done, or I’m going to just kind of buckle down, you know, eat less train more, of course, is really, really common. With regard to training. Why is, you know, some people will say, I’m wheeling lifting, you know, I’m going out and kind of doing this like, really lightweight. So I’m, I’m still getting out there. I’m strength training, right, technically, but I know that you are going to have a different stance on that much like myself. So talk us through, like, why do we need to shift specifically the way we strength train? And what does that look like? And then maybe we’ll get into the cardio base endurance stuff.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yeah. So when we look at what estrogen does, estrogen stimulates a satellite cell or like the basic stem cell of muscle mass. And it directly affects the myosin contractile protein of actin-myosin, where you know, actin and myosin come together to create a contraction. When we start having all these perturbations of estrogen, there’s a shift in how the muscle response like that we aren’t getting as much stimulus for mass development, we’re not getting as strong contraction because bicep isn’t getting the stimulus to be as strong. So if we are continuing to do lightweight, high rep stuff, or we’re doing boot camp or we’re doing some circuit stuff, and we’re not really going after the root of the problem with this estrogen, we are not going to get stronger and we’re not going to build or maintain our lean mass. What we’re trying to do when we get into our 40s is look for external stress that is going to help support what the hormones used to do or augment what the hormones can do. So if we again, look at that, eight to 10 rep range or the 20 rep range, you know that really low weight, high rep stuff It can cause a little bit of hypertrophy, but not much. And really what it’s doing is it’s creating catabolic signaling or breakdown signaling in the body, but not strong enough to cause an adaptation for strength. So we need to shift and start to lift heavy.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So like, pure, heavy, looking at that zero to six rep range, you are in the gym for maybe 20 to 30 minutes working, specifically compound work. And you’re and it’s hard, it is hard. It’s like Central Nervous System fatigue, it is neuromuscular fatigue, that’s what we’re after, we want to get the nervous system involved because we need to have a very strong stimulus to create a strong muscle contraction. And that stimulus to create that really strong muscle contraction is what is going to stimulate the body to adapt to get stronger and to build a mess. The other thing to remember is that, regardless of age, women do better with power and speed-based training, not hypertrophy, we will get some hypertrophy along the way. But the focus really needs to be on power and speed, especially as we start to have these hormone changes. And when we flatline and don’t have hormones, we need to look at how are we stimulating the nervous system to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible for strong contraction, so that we can continue to get the signaling to build and or maintain the lean mass that we have. Because if we go back to I’m just doing bodyweight stuff, or I’m doing dumbbell circuits, you are being very counterproductive in the fact that again, it’s going to be a breakdown signaling without a strong enough stimulus to build.

Steph Gaudreau
Hallelujah.

Dr. Stacy Sims
There you go.

Steph Gaudreau
There you go. You haven’t heard from someone who is very experienced in physiology as well and I was talking earlier before the show, and I was like, I need someone else to like, come in and like say the same things in a different way. Because there’s a lot of pushback also, even amongst athletic women, and I love how, you know, you talked about what is an athlete like doesn’t mean you have to compete, but a lot of us out here are our training tells us we’re athletes, right? We are we’re putting in the work, we’re out there, we’re doing the thing. And there’s a lot of pushback, though, even amongst athletic women, and I remember being an endurance athlete, and this is, you know if I had found you, and all of the things that I know, now back when I was endurance racing, it probably would have turned out very differently for me. But instead, I ended up like a husk of a human with losing all my muscle mass and tons and tons of injuries under eating, you know, iron deficiency in the whole nine yards. But there’s a lot of resistance, even amongst athletic women who they’re maybe they’re like, Okay, I know, like I’ve heard I need to kind of strength train because they hear heavy and they think this is scary, and I’m gonna get hurt.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Right? I know, or I’m gonna get bulky. That’s the other fear. So I’ll unpack that, too. When when we say lift heavy, it’s not like you go from 20-pound deadlifts too, all of a sudden trying to do 100. And the next day we phase in, you need to work with someone who knows how to do proper movement, we want someone to look at how your mechanics are to see where the sticking points are, to make sure that as you start to lift heavy and get into it, you’re executing really good technique and form. Because the other thing that happens when we get into perimenopause, or our early to mid-40s is that we start to have more joint pain, and we start to have more residual inflammation. So if you’re not taking care of proper mechanics, then this can exasperate those things. And that also is part of hormone-changing residual inflammation and some joint pain and soft tissue. So we really, really need to nail down that technique.

Dr. Stacy Sims
And when we’re looking at lifting, we want to phase it where we have a build into it for about three to four weeks, where we’re slowly working on the mechanics getting more range of motion, learning how to get under the bar, how to lift the bar properly, how to engage the core, and then we can start building into the weight. And we want to look at D loading as well. And when we’re D loading we’re going back to the mobility work, we’re going back to the flexibility so that the body can adapt and absorb all the heavy lifting and training before we hit it hard to get. And then I often get the I’m going to get bulky, women don’t have enough testosterone get bulky, and if you want to get bulky, you have to work really really hard at it. You have to eat a lot all the time and have no cardio. I guess like you mentioned cardio to bodybuilders like no, that’s gonna eat my muscle.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yeah, women who are in this and they do all the things you know you do your peloton, you do your hiking, you’re running, you’re lifting all that kind of stuff, you’re really not going to get bulky because you’re doing too many other things to actually get the signaling that there’s an abundance to build and become big. And then when we’re thinking about, okay, here, I don’t want to get injured, and I still love all of my endurance stuff, you have to also take change over in the kind of endurance stuff that we’re doing. When we’re looking at how women’s bodies work, we are born naturally with the ability to maximally oxidize fatty acids. So all this stuff we hear about metabolic flexibility, ketogenic, low carb, high fat, trying to be able to burn more fat. That’s all about that. Because women are born with more proteins within mitochondria, to regenerate mitochondria, and to preferentially use fatty acids. And when we add estrogen in estrogen, spares, and carbohydrate, so we are already burning more fat. And then when you add progesterone and the same thing, so progesterone takes carbohydrates to shuttle into the uterine lining. So when you have these hormone exposures, your body’s already being attuned to burning fat.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So when we look at endurance, and we see this uprise of women in ultra-endurance, that they hit their 40s, because all of a sudden, they’re becoming slower, and they can maintain a long distance, because, from a physiological standpoint, that’s how the body operates. But if we’re looking for health, and we’re looking for body composition change, we need to drop that moderate intensity. Because when we get into that moderate intensity load, it is too easy to be hard enough to give us the stress that we want to support those hormones and adaptations. And it is too hard to be easy to ensure complete and adequate recovery and adaptation. So when I look at something like an AI will use brand names, and I don’t care if I call it out, but if I look at something like orange theory, or F 45. And they’re drawing women in because it has a little bit of strength training has a little bit of high-intensity work, it’s still not right, because those classes put women into the high rep range for weight. That’s fast and improper form and injury. And then the intensity part of that of Sprint’s is still not focused, it’s still putting people in that monitoring. So, women who will go four times a week orange theory and do some extra strength training, they’re putting themselves in this modern intensity range that increases baseline cortisol and keeps their body in a breakdown state. And the signaling for this is to reduce thyroid, and increased body fat, and muscle.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So when we look at these classes that are being pitched or these moderate intensity guidelines that are being pitched to women, in their 40s is the exact opposite of what they should do. You need to look at high-intensity work. And I don’t mean 30 to 40 minutes of hit classes. I mean, like you are warming up and you’re doing full gas for 20 to 40 seconds for recovery, then you hit it again. So it’s that sprint interval training, it’s plyometric work. And then the other side of the coin is you’re lifting heavily from central nervous system fatigue. And I get it as an endurance athlete, and working with endurance athletes, where do I get my soul food, I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m saying during the week, and your focus should be on polarizing your training and doing the heavy lifting. And then on the weekend, this is where you go out for your long run or your long ride or your long hike and you keep it easy. It’s social. If you’re training for something that’s different, like if you’re training for a race, then we have to block it in. But it’s so preferential on that high intensity, and then working in the longer stuff.

Dr. Stacy Sims
But for general health and fitness, it’s the polarized training, especially when you start to have these hormonal shifts because again, we’re looking at how are we supporting the body to get body composition change, to support adaptation, as we’re getting older, and we’re losing these hormones. And when we look at guidelines out there of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, it doesn’t work for women, when they get into their 40s and beyond. It’s detrimental. We don’t see changes in blood glucose control. We don’t see changes in body comp, we see an improvement in cardiovascular health. But if you’re doing high-intensity work, you’ve been getting better cardiovascular outcomes from the short-term intervals than you would for a 30 or 40-minute walk. So both of them play into health and performance. That’s my rant.

Steph Gaudreau
So I was like waiting for that mic drop moment and that was it. But you brought up so many great things. And I want, you know, if you’re someone who’s listening to this, and you’re like, whoa, like she just blew my mind, go back rewind, I guess we rewind for you, like, tap the back button, I guess now, yeah, go back and rewind and listen again. And there’s so much here, that is going to challenge your mindset and what you’ve always been taught and told and what you believe, is the like, right way to do things, and that I often find like, and I super appreciate, of course, the science, what does the science say? What does the evidence tell us? Because that is like the one counterpoint you can come back to when are like, all the conditioning and the socializing we’ve been receiving as women is like, we just need to, you know, get out there and like, pound the pavement and kind of do our thing, but it’s never hard enough to feel really icky and uncomfortable. writing those intervals is it’s hard. It’s hard. You know, it’s, it’s uncomfortable. And I feel like, with a lot of training, a lot of the cardiovascular training, it’s like, it’s going to be hard enough. It’s pitched as being hard enough that you’re doing something you’re getting your sweat on. But it’s when you talk about doing the true high intensity and it’s not your 55-minute class, right?

Dr. Stacy Sims
Right.

Steph Gaudreau
If you’ve never done a Tabata. Please try one and like give it your all, and then we’ll talk because it’s really hard. Yeah, I feel like that that is that level of like, oh, but that’s, you know like I’ve done I’m really going to be getting uncomfortable. And I don’t know if that sounds very appealing.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yeah. And that’s a problem. I think all of Western society is conditioned to be comfortable, right? We don’t know what it’s like to be uncomfortable. We sit in air-conditioned houses, we have heating in the winter. We go outside in the summer, and we’re like, Ah, it’s too hot. I’m gonna go inside, right. And we don’t know what it truly means to be uncomfortable. And so our bodies never really adapt. So now we’re hearing things like cold water immersion. We’re seeing things about sauna to instigate heat shock proteins and change all these things to create longevity? Well, yes, for sure. Because your body’s in an uncomfortable state. But we also have to look at exercise. And exercise in itself helps promote longevity, but you have to be uncomfortable. You have to really get that high intensity in the central nervous system working for you. And if you’re doing it right, then you can’t train every day. It’s really hard to train every day if you’re doing it right.

Steph Gaudreau
Right, so that was my next question.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yeah. And a lot of women are like, but I get up every day and I go for my 30-minute ride. It’s my mind clearance. Yeah, okay. But we need to revisit that, right. So if you get up, you do the same thing every day, you’re not ever going to get change. It’s like eating the same salad every day for the rest of your life, you’re not going to really appreciate food, you’re not going to be nourished, you’re not going to change, you might get to vitamin deficiencies, because we’re not stressing, and we need to stress especially want change.

Steph Gaudreau
So can you kind of give our listener a like a suggestion, I know everybody’s a little bit different? But let’s say they’re not competing. They’re just somebody who’s really out there to start maximizing start improving what they’re doing because they’re not seeing that things are changing for them. They’re kind of getting into their 40s. They’re used to doing it five times a week, you know, they go to their hour long. I don’t know whatever you want to call it class, right, which is making them sweat, but maybe not in the way that we’re talking about here. Like how would somebody in your opinion, or what you’d like to see shift some of that training, like let’s say in a seven day period, what what what could a potential mixture of things like because I get this question a lot.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yeah. So the very first thing I have people do is sleep in for at least a week, sleep and per week, and see what it feels like to get good sleep. And then we shorten up the workouts and do 20 minutes a day. And people like, what, 20 minutes a day. But in that 20 minutes, we look at maybe doing five sets of five heavy deadlifts, and in between the sets, we’re doing 20 box jumps. So the player stuff. So at the end of it, you’re completely wasted, done, and dusted in 20 minutes. So it’s a way of getting people to understand what it feels like because you can’t control it. Box Jumps you’re jumping, right and you got someone is saying go go go go go. So you get that full gas feeling you know what that feels like? Because if you put someone on a spin bike or you put someone on a treadmill and you say go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, they rate them.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So I always try to use something that is not quite so controllable. Um, so when we’re looking at how would I take five days of the class like if you are dead set on going to your Bootcamp class, have a focus for that class. Say, instead of doing all the high-intensity reps, let’s put the weight on, and drop the reps. And maybe you’re not doing as many sets, you have to have a focus. So we bring the focus in, we have the sleep-in week, with the 20 minutes of really understanding what polarization is, then the next week we look at, okay, if you really love these classes, let’s see how they’re structured. And we’re gonna have a focus for each class. So you’re gonna modify that class, according to either Is it a high-intensity day? Or is it lifting day? And then they start to see how these classes aren’t quite working for them. Right. And they can fall into the habit of Oh, I’m just going to do what they’re doing. But we really want to see these training metrics. So I use objective measurements, I have them use a loop or an aura so we can keep track of our heart rate monitor. So we can really polarize and see what’s happening.

Dr. Stacy Sims
And then when you get the objective data, you’re like, oh, my gosh, okay, now I get it. If I’m not working with someone, personally, because I’m on a podcast, or telling people in general, say scope it this way, you have Monday, Tuesday, hard days back to back, where you’re doing short, hard stuff. So what does that mean? That might be running up your stairs and time yourself 20 seconds hard walk down that block. And then you might be doing some plank rolls. Or if you’re going to your class, you’re like, Okay, well, there’s two hard days, I’m gonna go as hard as I can on the intervals. And then I’m going to back it down. Then on the third day, we’re doing some active recovery stuff. So we’re looking at going for a walk, or we’re going for a short swim, or we’re doing some bn yoga, but definitely sleeping. And then on the fourth day, in the afternoon, we’re hitting it hard again. So you have a lot of recovery between day two, and day three. And then. And then on the fifth day, which is usually a Friday, in the morning, you want to do another hard, hard session. So you end up with two hard sessions back to back Monday, and Tuesday, recovery from Tuesday morning, all the way through to Thursday night, you hit it hard, hit it hard, and then you relax on the weekend. So we’re hitting it hard and bookending, kind of but with recovery in the day, or in the middle of the week.

Dr. Stacy Sims
So then you can see what it feels like to be tired from physical activity, or tired from asleep. So really trying to get people to understand what it feels like can teach themselves, because we’ve lost that we’ve lost what does it feel like to be tired from physical activity versus what does it feel like to be tired from stress and mostly, so trying to teach that a lot of times I use rating of perceived exertion instead of heart rate monitor. So if I’m saying we want those hearts heart intervals in your class to be a nine to 10, on a scale of one to 10. That means that when the 20 seconds come, you’re done. You’re like, I need those two minutes to recover. If you do 20 seconds, and then 20 seconds later, you can do it again. That wasn’t hard enough. Because you know, and a lot of the classes or some of them, I guess online programming, they’re like, Okay, 20 seconds, just fine if you’re doing bodywork, but if you’re doing a longer extended stuff, you need to know that 20 seconds, and you’re looking forward to that to recover. The body fully recovers, and you can hit it as hard as you can. Again, that’s the goal. And when you lose form and function, that’s when you stop, you might get three or four or you might get eight depending on how well your body adapts and recovers, huh. There you go.

Steph Gaudreau
So sets of you know, up to six, heavy lifting, you know, intervals getting recovery time in between those really hard efforts. What about 10,000 steps a day? Are you gonna let us off the hook with that?

Dr. Stacy Sims
Oh, yeah, totally. That’s like 8 glasses of water or our heart rate just to 220 bonus page. Yeah. It all comes from marketing. It all comes from marketing. There’s no yeah, 10,000 steps a day. It’s about movement. But it’s not like getting up and walking to the bathroom and coming back. And those count as steps, but it doesn’t count as actual physical activity to promote health and longevity. Yeah, so I tell people don’t pay attention to 10,000 steps a day. Because then people become obsessed. Oh, I’m going to walk around my bedroom to get my 10,000 steps a day before I can go to bed. Like yeah, it’s marketing. It’s based on marketing.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah. And I hope there are some people breathing a bit of a sigh of relief there. Because I do know I’ve had clients and students and spouses or partners of clients who will stay the prolonged bedtime because they’ll stand in the bedroom or wherever walk around the house to get the 10,000 steps and so they’re actually getting less sleep. And, you know, robbing Peter to pay Paul as they say.

Dr. Stacy Sims
Yeah, if you’re really really obsessed with the numbers on your watch, you can lie in bed and just move your arm back and forth because those numbers will come up, and then you can go to sleep.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah. Make your bicep really tired. It’ll be great. Okay, so we’ve covered some of the training stuff with regards to physiology and how we need to change our training. And I love how you say polarizing your training. We want the hard efforts to be hard and the easy efforts to be recoverable. I also am a huge fan of whoop. So like, I think that’s another great feature for people who just can’t help themselves. Like it just can’t help it. I just need I feel like I have to. Like I think it’s a really great tool. So I’m glad you brought that up. All right, there you go. That is a wrap on part one of this two-part episode with Dr. Stacey Sims, we dove all the way into the training, the workouts, the exercise, the fitness, and what needs to shift as we are approaching our 40s.

Steph Gaudreau
We’re going through perimenopause, and then we come out the other side. And we’re now in post-menopause. So next week, I need you to come back because we’re going to be diving into the nutrition aspect. And let me tell you if you are confused about nutrition, and you’re trying to figure things out, like oh, I did all these things differently, because everyone said, This is what we should do when we’re in perimenopause, or post menopause. And this shit isn’t working for me, then I need you to come back to listen to part two because she’s breaking down some of the most common pitfalls that athletic women tend to fall into when we’re in our 40s and beyond. You don’t want to miss it, I promise. Alright, that does it for this episode.

Steph Gaudreau
Of course, if you want the show notes, go over to StephGaudreau.com and get those including a full transcript. And while you’re there, if you’re like, you know what Steph, yes, I am ready to do something about this. Information is important, of course, but I’m ready to take action and implement things. And I want accountability. I want coaching. I want high level results, then Strength Nutrition Unlocked, the program that I created for you does just that. So come over, fill out the application over at StephGaudreau.com/strong. And I’d love to see your name pop up. We’d love to chat with you more about that. All right. Stay tuned for next week. You don’t want to miss it. Until then, stay strong.

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Lord of the Rings nerd, cold brew drinker, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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