5 Ways Strength Training Can Help During Menopause 

by JJ Virgin on April 25, 2024

Hormonal shifts during menopause can throw your body for a loop with a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. This rollercoaster ride often takes a toll on essential aspects of your health, like your metabolism, bone density, and muscle mass.1 

Lower estrogen and progesterone levels that can occur during this transition set the stage for issues like osteoporosis and sarcopenia, putting your bone and muscle health at risk.2, 3 On top of this, an increased risk of insulin resistance can pave the way for weight gain and metabolic problems.4 

The antidote for these menopausal woes? Lifting heavy things. 

Strength training (also known as resistance training) can do wonders for boosting bone density, preserving precious muscle mass, and supporting your metabolic well-being. It’s not just about building muscle; it’s about building resilience, which can be incredibly valuable during menopause.  

5 Ways Resistance Training Can Help You During Menopause 

1. Preserves Bone Density 

Around 40% of postmenopausal women may experience fractures in their lifetime, a concerning statistic that highlights the impact of aging on bone health, especially around menopause. Osteoporosis and fractures become significant risks due to substantial bone loss during this phase.5  

Weight-bearing exercises like resistance training stimulate bone remodeling, or the process of replacing old bone tissue with newer, stronger tissue.6 This targeted stimulation improves bone mineral density (a key indicator of bone health) and strengthens bones, particularly in fracture-prone areas like the spine and hips. 

By subjecting your bones to healthy stress through lifting weights, you prompt osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, to generate new bone tissue. Over time, this continual process of bone remodeling leads to improved bone mineral density, resulting in bones that are not only stronger but also more resilient against fractures.7  

2. Builds and Maintains Muscle 

After 30, muscle mass decreases by about 3-8% every decade. Once you reach 60, that rate accelerates. This loss of muscle mass, strength, and function significantly contributes to disability as you get older.8 

Resistance training counteracts the age-related decline in metabolic rate and muscle mass and reduces the risk of sarcopenia—a condition characterized by decreased muscle mass, strength, and function, which can lead to mobility issues, frailty, and an increased risk of falls and fractures.9, 10 

Resistance training also enhances your functional capabilities and helps you maintain a higher quality of life. You can more easily perform daily activities such as lifting groceries, climbing stairs, or getting up from a chair without assistance—things that may not be much of an issue now, but you’ll want to prevent them from becoming a problem later. 

3. Improves Metabolism 

Over 43% of menopausal women struggle with obesity, and about 20% of women find themselves facing unwanted weight gain of 10 pounds or more during menopause.11  

What’s more, your risk of metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, excess amounts of dangerous visceral fat, and unhealthy cholesterol levels—skyrockets, paving the way for insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.12 

Increasing muscle mass improves your basal metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories even at rest.13 Muscle tissue also plays a significant role in how your body uses glucose. Think of resistance training as creating a larger sponge for glucose absorption and storage, helping to keep blood-sugar levels in check.14 

Resistance training also improves your body’s ability to use stored fat for energy. This can lead to better body composition, with a greater proportion of lean muscle mass and lower amounts of body fat.15 

4. Supports Joints 

Joint stiffness affects over half of women during menopause, contributing to discomfort and reduced mobility.16 Strength training provides added support and stability by strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints, reducing the strain on your joints, and alleviating pain.17 This is particularly critical during menopause when hormonal changes can worsen joint stiffness and discomfort. 

Resistance exercises also improve your range of motion, making movements smoother and more comfortable. This increased flexibility makes everyday activities easier. Better balance and stability also reduce your risk of accidents and support long-term joint health and mobility.18 

5. Improves Mental Health 

As if menopause weren’t challenging enough, it can also bring about an increased risk of depression and anxiety.19  

Resistance training can reduce stress and boost your mood by triggering the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones).20 Seeing your strength and physical abilities improve also improves your self-esteem and body image. 

Resistance training also helps you maintain a healthy brain, reducing your risk of cognitive decline associated with aging and menopause.21 Strength exercises stimulate the production of growth factors in your brain that promote the growth of new neurons and improve your brain’s ability to form connections and adapt to new information.22 

Strength training also improves blood flow to your brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients essential for optimal brain function. This increased blood flow can boost your brain’s performance, including memory and attention.23 

By fostering mental and emotional resilience, strength training equips you with the psychological strength to face the challenges of menopause with confidence. This newfound strength empowers you to navigate through the ups and downs of menopause with grace and confidence.  

A Cheat Sheet to Design Your Resistance-Training Plan 

My free Resistance Training Cheat Sheet offers a comprehensive approach to fitness that can help you through the physical and hormonal changes during menopause. I’ve provided everything you need for your fitness journey, including home gym essentials, an eight-week workout plan, and a progress tracker to track your sets, reps, and weights with each workout. 

Whether you’re new to resistance training or want to revamp your current plan, this guide will help you optimize your workout results and help you better manage menopause.

Get your FREE Resistance Training Cheat Sheet here.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern.