Are you struggling to lose weight? Your exercise approach might be to blame. Here’s what you should be doing instead.

We speak to plenty of women in their 40s and 50s who are looking to drop a dress size or two… but struggling to see any movement with their weight. They’re trying all the plans and programmes which worked for them in their 20s and 30s, but they’re stepping on the scales at the end of the week and seeing zero movement.

This can be REALLY frustrating – and can leave people feeling completely trapped. This is not a nice place to be!

One of the main reasons this might happen is down to the physical and hormonal changes that women go through as they get older, which can make it easier to gain weight around the middle and more difficult to lose it again with normal dieting.

Exercise approaches can be one of the main reasons many women are struggling to see movement on the scales. Even if you get everything else right, if you don’t focus on the right things in terms of exercise, you could still see zero progress.

Keep reading to find out what you might be doing wrong, and what to do instead!

There is no single best exercise

Rather than finding the best exercise, you should focus more on the type of exercise which is right for you, your body and your goals.

For women over forty, significant changes begin to happen physiologically which can impact the exercises that help you lose weight. For example, your sensitivity to the stress hormone cortisol increases with age, and this increases 3 times more for women than for men.

If cortisol levels are too high, it makes losing weight very difficult, as it leads to a few major problems:

  • Leptin resistance – increased cravings and not feeling full even after eating
  • Insulin resistance – makes it harder to lose weight, especially from around the middle
  • Thyroid deregulation – slows your metabolism down, meaning you have to eat a lot less to lose weight

All of these factors make it much harder to avoid gaining weight, let alone lose weight.

Another thing to consider is how your hormones are changing. Fluctuations in the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone start to happen, even years before clinical menopause.

This can lead to joint aches and pains, mobility issues, and other common problems. These are made worse if you are carrying a bit of extra weight, as it puts more load on the joints and causes more inflammation.

Additionally, muscle mass and bone density decreases with age (if you don’t do anything to counteract it). This can lead to:

  • Feeling less toned and more flabby
  • Having less shape to your body
  • Feeling weaker, having poorer balance and less energetic
  • Osteoporosis, which can cause serious issues as you get older
  • A slower metabolism, as the more muscle you have the more the faster your metabolism and vice versa

All of these factors are something women over forty need to consider as they address their exercise regime.

The best type of exercise 

For women over forty, it’s important to keep cortisol levels low, as high stress blocks weight loss. You should avoid overloading the joints, as this will quickly lead to injury and having to give up.

Additionally, you want to maintain muscle mass and bone density, to keep your metabolism high and maintain your health.

This rules out a lot of exercises, including:

  • Long distance cardio e.g. running, cycling:
    • Good for: Improving cardiovascular fitness
    • Negatives:
      • Reduces muscle mass – less body shape
      • Makes you flabbier and less toned
      • Can be high-impact too e.g. running (bad for back/knees if you’re carrying extra weight)
      • Triggers a relatively high stress response which means cortisol will be elevated and will make fat loss more difficult
  • HIIT training and gym classes:
    • Good for: Getting fit quickly, younger people who aren’t carrying excess weight
    • Negatives:
      • High-impact exercise has a high injury risk for anyone carrying extra weight or with existing joint problems
      • Highly stressful on the body, which will trigger a high stress response and make it hard to lose weight

So what’s best?

In our experience, low-impact strength training (LIST training) is by far the most effective training for women over 40. This involves slow, controlled movements with body weight or moderate weights.

The list of benefits is huge. Firstly, LIST keeps stress on the body low, meaning your body stays in an optimum state for losing weight. Secondly, it builds muscle which tones you up all over, reduces bingo wings, flattens your stomach AND increases your metabolism, meaning you can eat more and still lose weight easily!

LIST is also very efficient. Our clients only train 3 times a week for 40-45 minutes and they lose 1-2 stone in 12 weeks. It can be done from home, so you don’t need to waste time commuting to and from the gym. Plus, there’s no jumping around so it’s gentle on your joints and there’s a low injury risk!

To find out more about how Trinity can help you see the results you deserve, click here!

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