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Updated: Mar 23, 2022

The question is: are you exhausted of training a lot and yet not being able to feel and see yourself as you would like?

The answer is: probably the choices you have made are no longer the right ones for your physique, which is beginning to change or has already undergone major changes, for example with menopause.

The curious fact (which I did not even know before the latest education I took) is that peri-menopause is a gradual process of hormonal and physiological changes in the female physique that ends with the onset of menopause, and begins up to 10 years before.

10 years?? Gosh.

Considering 50-52 years the average age of entry into menopause (I will discuss this topic in detail in one of the next blogs), the math is easy!

The female physique from 35-40 years of age gradually begins to have truly different needs.

And as I always say, KNOWING, BEING AWARE of what happens to us is the basis of motivation and allows to ACT, to always take situations in hand and not just suffer them.

So, let's go back to our training.

Generally, when we think "I start exercising", we think of cardiovascular training.

The "cardio" training - running, long walks, treadmill and aerobic classes in the gym - considered the panacea for everything is part of the "myths" related to physical activity. Also having to train for hours otherwise it is useless it is another interesting milestone.

As always, the starting point must be to have clarity on one's goals: if I start working out what would I expect to happen?

Common answers could be: I would like to lose that belly fat I see increasing over time, I would like to feel more energetic, I would like to move better in everyday life, I would like to feel my body more toned and defined.

Continued aerobic cardiovascular training - that is, where heartbeats per minute are kept stable and oxygen is used for metabolic processes - is not the most effective for the "over 40" physique.

Over the years, the SARCOPENIA process becomes the focal point: it is the gradual loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with body aging. And do not be misled by the word "aging" thinking that at least up to 70 you are safe: the sarcopenia process begins around 35-40 years and peaks in women in menopause due to the drop in estrogens.

Sarcopenia is responsible for symptoms such as: constant sense of weakness, loss of stamina, difficulty in carrying out normal daily activities, increased fat mass and greater difficulty if you want to limit it.

You are starting to feel more fatigue ("My goodness, when I was 20 I could stay up 2 days in a row without feeling it!") and you see your body less and less toned? Now you have your answer, or at least one of the most important ones.

But the good news is: we have the power to act, because with an appropriate diet and the right physical exercise, sarcopenia can be controlled with excellent results.

So let's go back to our training, which we are trying to incorporate into our routine in a REALISTIC and EFFECTIVE way.

The starting point is that long and exhausting sessions do not always seem to be the most effective.

You don't have to be necessary exhausted and dripping with sweat to define a workout “effective”.

Let's start with the adjective "exhausted": in today's life I think it's the last thing we need.

If we identify physical activity as an additional element of stress, we will move away from it.

Physical activity must first of all be re-energizing and must "support" us in the rest of our activities and commitments, making them easier because we are more energetic and stronger.

And this is exactly what happens if the type of workout chosen is the right one.

When we decide to start a journey we have to choose something that makes us feel GOOD and we LIKE TO DO, first of all: otherwise we will give up.

Consistency and discipline will be fundamental, but pleasure will be too '.

It is possible to become more constant with training only if it is transformed into a moment of pleasure, and it is not experienced as an obligation but as a choice motivated by our values and our reality.

An excellent approach is called "Optimal Effective Dose", which translated sounds like "the effective optimal dose".

Your "Optimal Effective Dose" (OED) is the amount of exercise suitable for you, based on your unique life situation, body type, goals and schedule.

First of all, your OED is not something that burdens your routine but, on the contrary, implements it: it helps you to better cope with your other commitments, energizes you, lowers your stress level, and becomes a moment of pleasure.

Let's go and see what it is:

imagine the exercise as a continuum where you have the point of "Minimum Effective Dose" (MED) on one side and the point of "Maximum Tolerable Dose" (MTD) at the opposite end.

MED represents the minimum level of stimulus (in this case the minimum amount of physical exercise) required to achieve a certain result. In other words, MED is the minimum wage that must be done to cause a certain result; is what is always underestimated or considered "not very useful" and instead can be the REALISTIC ideal for some people, for example those who are new to fitness and focus on health training, those who fight with high levels of chronic stress, and those who have already very demanding schedules and very little time to train.

At the opposite end we have MTD, which is the maximum stimulus that a person can tolerate before experiencing negative consequences. Those who train approaching this level must have a lot of time and resources to dedicate to the sessions and rigidly optimize nutrition, sleep, lifestyle to achieve the desired results. "Never go out of line" in short. It takes a very high dose of willpower, time, energy, money, focus and this training model is not objectively applicable to everyone.

In the vast space that is created between these two extremes lies your Optimal Effective Dose, which allows you to achieve results in realistic times, remaining constant with training and eating style, improving your lifestyle.

Training in your OED means having adequate recovery times, feeling good and full of energy, and having time for other tasks such as work, social life, family, without feeling overwhelmed.

But in practice, how does it work?

Let's start with what the over 40 physique really needs:

  • Moderate-Intense muscle endurance training

  • Short Cardio sessions by adapting the intensity to your fitness level

  • Recovery activities. These can be sessions focused on joint mobility, Yoga, walks in the open air, complete rest.

  • A nutrient dense (and not "empty" calories) and varied diet that supports your goals

  • Adequate sleep in both qualitative and quantitative terms

  • "Stress management" and self-care actions (meditation, a walk in solitude, a chat with a friend, a book, a film that amuses us ...)

When these things work together it is possible to keep consistently one's own journey in a sustainable way.

To understand how to find your sustainable OED let's take point 1 as an example:

Minimum Effective Dose of medium-high intensity muscular endurance exercise is once a week. The opposite, the Maximum Tolerable Dose, is probably two workouts a day for 6 days a week (for example a pro-athlete).

For most women, the OED is between 2 and 4 sessions per week, with a duration of 20 to 60 minutes each.

Therefore, if you can take strength sessions 2 times a week for 20 minutes, you are already taking a big step. The next steps will come, at the right time I promise.

Finding the RIGHT and REALISTIC balance for YOU, aiming for progress and not perfection, you will see that staying consistent over time with your workouts will become much easier.

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