Struggling to see results with gym classes? Here’s why they might not work for women over 40, and what to do instead.

Most women will have tried gym classes to burn some extra calories. From spinning, PT sessions, to cardio machines, it’s very common for our clients to have tried these methods in the past to boost their progress on the scales. Yet, they step on the scales after a hard week of exercise and see ZERO movement.

This can be incredibly frustrating, leaving many women feeling completely stuck and unable to lose weight no matter what they try. Which is never a nice situation for anyone to be in!

The truth is, going to the gym is not always the best way to see results for women over forty. And it can be a complete waste of time and money if you’re not doing the RIGHT things at the gym to get the results you want.

We’ve helped more than 6,000 women over 40 to see incredible results, get back into all their clothes and feel amazing wearing anything they like… without having to step foot in a gym at all!

So in today’s blog, we reveal why going to the gym might not be ideal if you’re a woman over 40. Plus, we’ll share what to do instead so you can drop 1-2 dress sizes in the next 12 weeks from the comfort of your own home.

You can also learn more on our podcast.

The eat less, move more assumption

Many people assume that if you eat less and move more, you’ll lose weight. They join a gym, start doing classes like spinning and HIIT, try running, or get a PT. This can work for women in their 20s and 30s, but it doesn’t always work for women into their forties.

This is because of the changes that happen to the body in the run up to menopause.

For women over 40, significant changes happen physiologically as you age. The sensitivity to the stress hormone cortisol increases, which happens 3x more in women than men.

If cortisol levels are too high it makes losing weight very difficult, as it leads to 3 major problems:

  • Leptin resistance: Causes increased cravings and not feeling full even after eating
  • Insulin resistance: Makes it harder to lose weight, and easier to gain it, especially from around the middle
  • Thyroid deregulation: Slows your metabolism down, meaning you have to eat less and less to lose weight

All of this makes it much harder to avoid gaining weight, let alone lose weight. However, the mainstream health industry isn’t aware of this, as everything they do is generic and isn’t catered to any demographic specifically.

As we’ll come onto, a lot of gym-based exercise, whether it’s classes or PT sessions, trigger these processes, which makes it almost impossible to lose weight as a woman over 40.

Hormone changes

Changes in the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, start to happen – even years before clinical menopause. This can lead to:

  • Joint aches and pains
    • Bad knees
    • Bad back
  • Mobility issues
    • Frozen shoulder
    • Tennis elbow

These are both made worse if you’re carrying a bit of extra weight, as it puts more load on the joints and causes more inflammation.

Most gym classes and PT sessions are high-impact, and will make all of these things worse. They also don’t address the nutrition side of things correctly (if at all) which, if you make the wrong choices, disrupt these hormones a lot more.

Muscle mass decreases with age

If you don’t do anything to counteract this aging process, women find that muscle mass decreases with age. This can lead to:

  • Feeling less toned, and more flabby
  • Having less shape to your body
  • Feeling weaker, having poorer balance and feeling less energetic
  • A slower metabolism as the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism 

Cardio makes this worse, which is why gym classes don’t work for women over 40.

What to do instead

Therefore the best approach for women over forty must include three things. Firstly, it must keep cortisol levels low to moderate, as this blocks weight loss. It must be gentle on the joints, as this will quickly lead to injury and having to give up. And it must build muscle mass and bone density, to keep your metabolism high and maintain your health.

Unfortunately the majority of gym classes make all these things worse, not better, and they only focus on exercise.

In order to achieve this, everything you do – exercise, nutrition and mindset – must be optimised to avoid hormone disruption for women over forty.

This rules out a lot of exercises, including cardio and HIIT training.

So what is best?

When it comes to exercise, low-impact strength training (LIST training) is by far the most effective training for women over forty. This involves slow, controlled movements with body weight or moderate weights.

Some benefits include:

  • It keeps stress on the body low, meaning your body stays in an optimum state for losing weight
  • It builds muscle, which tones you up all over, reduces bingo wings, flattens your stomach AND increases your metabolism. This means you can eat more and still lose weight easily
  • It’s very efficient. Our clients only train three times a week for 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
  • There’s no jumping around, so it’s gentle on your joints and there’s a low injury risk
  • Plus, it still improves cardio fitness

Combine this with a nutrition approach that avoids hormone-disrupting foods and is hormonally balanced for you, as well as a mindset routine that is quick and easy, and you’ll be set to see results in just a few weeks!

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