Ask An Expert: Sarah Lindsay, Roar Fitness

Does lifting weights help with menopause? Hell yes, says this celebrity trainer. It’s hands down the best exercise to beat menopause belly fat.

If you’ve wondered why weight training is so important for menopause and your midlife body, former Olympic speed skater Sarah Lindsay is here to explain why. Sarah is the co founder of Roar Fitness, a London-based group of personal training studios, where health and nutrition is a serious business. All of those issues that so many of us have, from menopause belly fat to creaky knees, can be helped, she says, by strength training. Combined with good nutrition, of course. 

We wish there was a magic answer to that frequently asked question, “how can I speed up weight loss during menopause?”, but there’s not, sadly. Instead, Sarah advocates a motivating mix of weights, smart eating and dedication. That is the way, she says, to a body that has less fat and more longevity.

READ MORE Good nutrition for your age and stage.

But don’t take it from us that weight training for menopause is the best route to a strong midlife body, take it from the woman who has got the likes of Christine Lampard, Ellie Goulding and Mel B into their best shape. Not to mention Piers Morgan… Sarah, over to you.

How do the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause affect a woman’s strength and fitness?

A drop in oestrogen can result in a reduction of strength and muscle mass and a reduced recovery rate. Results and progress can be a little slower but definitely still very much achievable.

Does lifting weights help with menopause?

Weight training is proven to improve bone density which of course is very important through menopause, with the increased risk of osteoporosis. Being strong, stable and agile also reduces the risk of accident and injury, through things like falls.

READ MORE What are the 34 menopause symptoms?

Why is a strong body so important in midlife?

Being stronger and more physically capable means that physical tasks are easier, so you have more energy and more physical confidence. When we start to lose our physical capability, we start feeling older and more tired.

What is the Roar Fitness approach for a strong midlife body?

Most clients are beginners and haven’t lifted weights before. We build confidence by taking things at a steady pace, teaching people how to lift correctly and slowly building that physical strength and confidence.

We have a client base of over 80% women, so creating an environment that feels safe, comfortable and positive was paramount to me.

Is strength training exercise good for menopause belly fat?

Yes! There are different reasons you store fat in different places and everyone is different but with the right training and nutrition and probably a few lifestyle hacks you can absolutely reduce your body fat back down.

READ MORE 11 ways to lose menopause belly fat.

Why are you passionate about the power of strength training to help midlife women feel fit and strong?

To keep getting stronger you need to progressively overload the muscle, so to keep increasing the resistance you need to lift more weight. Weight training is the only real measured way to do this.

For many midlife women, issues like creaky joints and sore knees put them off exercise. Can Roar Fitness help?

Of course. We can help improve this with our nutrition plans. With regards to exercise, most people have aches and pains (I know I do!), so we have to find ways to make you stronger without aggravating long term niggles.

Before we start the training programme we carry out a nutrition consultation and also a movement screening to make sure that the exercises built into your plan are appropriate for your body and your mechanics.

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What are your favourite moves for midlife women?

Depends on their goals but ideally all the big moves that cross over into everyday life: Deadlifts, squats, pressing and pulling moves.

As an (almost) midlife woman yourself, how have you noticed your body changing, and what is your fitness regime?

I have very much so and my goals have changed significantly over the years. As an athlete in my teens and 20s, all I cared about was performance and actually I abused my body terribly.

In my 30s, I started to care about what my body looked like, which I think came from being in this industry where everyone expects you to look impressive or beautiful. I built a lot of muscle and stayed extremely lean which actually as a project was quite fun.

Now all my goals are around longevity. Staying strong, maintaining muscle mass, maximising recovery and always striving for optimal health.

What about nutrition and supplements? How do you stay feeling well?

Nothing crazy but I do take a few lifestyle supps. I take loads of collagen in my morning coffee and evening hot chocolate. Magnesium, zinc, vitamin D3 and a fish oil always. I may take other things depending on what’s going on in my life at the time.

READ MORE 10 of the best menopause supplements.

What do you say to midlife women who need some encouragement to start exercising?

Find something you enjoy first. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep going and consistency is key. When it becomes routine and a part of your life and you get more confident, then branch out and try new things.

Everyone started somewhere, nobody starts as an expert so don’t be shy. Make it a social and enjoyable experience and give yourself and your body what it deserves.

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