T Nation

Menopause and Strength

I have made an interesting observation.
I am 49 and started experiencing symptoms of “the change” a couple of years ago. My symptoms were never very severe (I believe this was due to being physically active) and it did not seem to be that big a deal. However, it did have an interesting affect on my strength levels. For the first year and a half as my hormone levels fluctuated, so did my strength. At some point I felt like I hit a wall and took one step forward and two steps back. Then about six months ago, when all “monthly events” ceased, my strength began to increase. Slowly at first and then significantly. It was like someone slowly removed a govenor off my engine. I imagine this is due to the cessation or reduction of estrogen production. I have tried to research this on the web, but as you can imagine, there ain’t a whole lot of info out there. I did find a posting from a powerlifter who had experienced a similar effect when she went off HRT. I know there are some older female lifters on this board and I sure would be interested to hear what they have to say about this.

[quote]gojira wrote:
I have made an interesting observation.
I am 49 and started experiencing symptoms of “the change” a couple of years ago. My symptoms were never very severe (I believe this was due to being physically active) and it did not seem to be that big a deal. However, it did have an interesting affect on my strength levels. For the first year and a half as my hormone levels fluctuated, so did my strength. At some point I felt like I hit a wall and took one step forward and two steps back. Then about six months ago, when all “monthly events” ceased, my strength began to increase. Slowly at first and then significantly. It was like someone slowly removed a govenor off my engine. I imagine this is due to the cessation or reduction of estrogen production. I have tried to research this on the web, but as you can imagine, there ain’t a whole lot of info out there. I did find a posting from a powerlifter who had experienced a similar effect when she went off HRT. I know there are some older female lifters on this board and I sure would be interested to hear what they have to say about this. [/quote]
Hi Gojira,
I was doing some research into this just because I am wondering if there is a way I can reduce the impact of my hormonal flactuations 7 days prior to my period on my training and I do think outside the box and tinker and challenge all schools of thought.I’m particularly interested on the increase of strengh you experienced - Could you elaborate on the “it was like someone slowly removed a govenor off my engine”.ie. Did you experience a particular freeing sensation in your body(head and/or gut) or was it mostly and/or primarily a psychological “clearing” or freeing up?

Thanks

Actually it was expressed in my lifts. Poundages that I struggled with before got much easier. I seem to be able to push myself harder. My thinking has gotten clearer too. One of the symptoms of menopause is a kind of brain fog. You struggle to remember things, words, peoples names. That has gotten much better.

I mentioned gut because trainning for the butterfly is a kind of water powerlifting.You have to kick hard with both legs to push out and powerlift your body then “fly” foward with both arms.My arms are very strong but my “engine” or power push originates in the gut area. I don’t know about you but when my lift (out of the h2o) is weak it usually starts from a kind of void in the gut area. Feeling vulnerable=not gutsy=weak arm push.The arms feel like lead and it’s impossible to push yourself harder. I get the brainfog,too but only during training. Maybe it’s like having a mini menopause for 1 week every month…
I am going to join Biotest and develop…
ALPHA-FEMALE!!
…and for those with PMI(pre menstrual indole)…
WILD KAT ; )

Re decrease in estrogen: Don’t forget there’s also a decrease in testosterone after menopause. Maybe it’s the absence of menstrual cramps, bloating and any PMS symtoms that are jacking up your numbers. I’ve always attempted to get stronger, and at 58 I continue to gain strength. I can’t really recall if the cessation of menstruation made a difference in my strength though.

I am not a woman but, I’ll just offer a word or two because I have heard a very similar description before in relation to training. In that case I was working with a women (late 20’s) on here diet not her training I was not her coach. We were looking at all facets and we addressed a few possible problems with her micronutrient intake. There’s no way to say for sure and we would have upped a lot of different things at the same time generally clearing up here diet but I think she was probably experiencing some level of chronic iron deficiency. Not enough to get here to the doctor but her change in iron status with the changes we put in place would have been dramatic.

Endocrine status asside, as you well know menstruation puts a lot of stress/demands on the body and the above is just one example, maybe it is just purely that reduction in stress.

My $0.02

[quote]Drewsky wrote:
I am not a woman but, I’ll just offer a word or two because I have heard a very similar description before in relation to training. In that case I was working with a women (late 20’s) on here diet not her training I was not her coach. We were looking at all facets and we addressed a few possible problems with her micronutrient intake. There’s no way to say for sure and we would have upped a lot of different things at the same time generally clearing up here diet but I think she was probably experiencing some level of chronic iron deficiency. Not enough to get here to the doctor but her change in iron status with the changes we put in place would have been dramatic.

Endocrine status asside, as you well know menstruation puts a lot of stress/demands on the body and the above is just one example, maybe it is just purely that reduction in stress.

My $0.02[/quote]

Thank you Drewsky. I tend to ignore the “a lot of stress/demands on the body” aspect of M. I keep trying to find a supplement to override that as I hate the week before and first 3 days of my period. That’s ten days feeling you are “less” and deficient every month.In your experience, or anybody else reading this, would it be benefitial just surrendering to nature and doing less better than trying to push hard to keep your training as usual?
Ex: If I slow down 70% the week before and take 2 days of complete rest, day 1 and 2 of my period (just bleed&read basically)- thus honoring my femininity as opposed to drinking energy drinks to keep going as if nothing was happening (In hindsight, maybe bleeding regularly is nature’s way to remind us to take time off to just nurture ourselves with so much demands placed on our love)

Without giving it the proper thought I should do before replying (!) you may want to look at periodicity to fit in with your strength/work capacity over the month.

If volume is a problem work on intensity or if strength goes down for a certain period during you cycle work on a bit of volume or work in longer rest period between sets. Hell, you can even use it to learn new skill with light weights and higher reps to grove the movement. For example:

If your numbers in the squat decline then use the time to do high rep front squat (or another variation you don’t do much), work on your form in cleans of even clean and jerk etc etc. (Olympic lifting being what it is it will give you an relativly efficient workout at low intensity, increase your power and besides - everybody needs to work on their form on these.)

The microcycles depend on you capacity and goals - just read up on the options.

I hope that helps a little. Also my coments were really for Gojira but could well apply to you, it’s always a good idea to look at your diet in terms of performance every so often.

Thanks Drewski,it did help.
You made a good point - as Picasso said: When I don’t have blue I use red.
I will experiment with that.