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Introducing Breakaway Women's Club

Updated: Dec 4, 2022



Do you feel unmotivated or stuck when it comes to your fitness and wellness?

Do you want to make some changes but feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to workout for your 40+ year old body and mind?

Do you like a variety of workouts? Would you like all the workout options to be in one place?

Would you like to learn more about health and wellness for women 40+?

Are you looking for a like-minded and supportive community?


If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you certainly are not alone.

Mid-life starts to bring all kinds of changes and challenges. Breakaway Women’s Club was created to help. It’s a mix of Workouts, Wellness, and Community.


Why Women 40+?

For most women, as they enter their 40s, we start our journey through peri-menopause. This is when we begin to experience a fall in our hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. This decline is responsible for some of the big changes we experience, such as:

- Mood shifts,

- Forgetfulness,

- Irregular periods,

- Hot flashes and night sweats,

- Increased anxiety and racing mind,

- Changing body composition (increased body fat and decreased lean muscle mass),

- Sleep issues,

- Increased stress (we don’t clear out cortisol as efficiently),

- Joint aches and pains,

- Fatigue and low energy levels, and

- Longer recovery times.

The transition through peri-menopause lasts on average 4-5 years. We reach Menopause on the one year anniversary of having no period. We are then considered post-menopause. The average age of menopause is 51. When we are post-menopause, our estrogen and progesterone production from our ovaries flatlines (our adrenals can still make some hormones, but not much). This journey through peri-menopause to post-menopause can be quite turbulent and leave us feeling very disconnected to our body. We can feel overwhelmed, undermotivated and frustrated. Our body (and mind) start to have very different needs than our younger self.


What can we do?

One way we can ease symptoms and balance hormones is by doubling down on positive lifestyle behaviors, especially around:

- Sleep hygiene,

- Stress management,

- Clean eating and hydration, and

- How we exercise and recover.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides a number of resources for sleep, stress management, exercise, nutrition and hydration including:

- Health & Wellness Webinars

- Health & Wellness Workshops

- Reminders, Tips, Resources, Monthly Challenges, etc.

- Q&A sessions with experts

- Support through a private Facebook Group

Let’s look at the different ways we can exercise:


1. Low Intensity versus High Intensity


LISS or Low Intensity Steady State. It has many names: cardio, endurance, long steady distance, or zone 2 training. These are our longer duration and lower intensity workouts.

PROS:

- Social workouts

- Improves cardiovascular fitness and health

- Helps with gut health

- Helps with blood sugar control

- Positive impact on emotional health

CONS:

- Wear and tear on the joints

- Too much cardio can put a bigger stress on the female body. It increases the stress hormone, cortisol. Increased cortisol levels become harder for us to clear out at this age. Our body interprets this increased cortisol as danger ahead. It responds by trying to prepare our body for that danger: by storing fat. Our body doesn’t know if the stress is due to an upcoming deadline at work, workout stress, or if a famine is about to hit us! Stress is stress.


(Note: all exercise is a stress on the body – it’s important to figure out what the right balance of workouts versus recovery look like for you.)


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides weekly LISS workouts for cycling, swimming and running.


High Intensity Training There are several versions of High Intensity Training: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), SIT (Sprint Interval Training) and METCON (Metabolic Conditioning). These workouts are shorter and sharper! They are alternating hard efforts followed by a recovery period. Typically, they are 10 to 60 seconds of work followed by 10 to 120 seconds rest.

PROS:

- Improves blood sugar control / insulin sensitivity (helps with body composition)

- Triggers anti-inflammatory response (decreases total body inflammation and helps with recovery)

- Increases BDNF to help with cognition and working memory

- Provides a metabolic stimulus: increasing lean mass (increases HGH, Testosterone which are anabolic), and decreasing fat storage (helps with body composition).

- Improves cardio vascular markers

- Decreases stress (increases free testosterone which helps counter cortisol).

- Improves endurance (aerobic fitness) and ability to use oxygen (VO2Max)

- Improves mitochondria function

- Improves immunity

- Shorter duration workouts

CONS:

- If you are already stressed out with high cortisol levels, this can add stress on top of a stressed-out system.

- High intensity can feel uncomfortable. It takes some getting used to.

- Requires adequate recovery to reap the benefits.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides several options. There will be a weekly HIIT or METCON workouts (whiteboard workout with a short video demonstrating the exercises with an occasional livestream workout). Plus SIT workouts for running and cycling. As well as intervals and hill repeats.


2. Body Weight Strength Versus Lifting Heavier


Body Weight Strength / Functional Strength Workouts.

These workouts tend to use body weight or light weights, and higher reps. And by higher reps, we’re talking of 10 or more. When we resistance train this way, it rips down the muscle fibers. When they repair, they build up, so you can see an increase in the muscle fiber diameter. This makes the muscles look bigger and more defined. Muscle definition is not nesessarily representative of strength.


PROS:

- Accessible (great for travel)

- Good for those new to strength work

- Helps with stability and function

- Good for recovery weeks

CONS:

- Doesn’t build strength and increase lean mass as effectively as lifting heavier.

- Doesn’t stimulate bone density as effectively as lifting heavier.

- Doesn’t positively impact body composition as much as lifting heavier.

Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides 1-2 of these workouts a week as either a follow along video or livestream.



Lifting Heavy Workouts.

As we age, we lose strength (lean muscle mass) mainly due to declining Estrogen levels. Estrogen is anabolic in the female body. It helps to build muscle. As we lose Estrogen, we lose this ability. Lifting Heavy helps provide a stimulus for building muscle. How heavy? Lifting weights heavy enough that you can only do 5-8 reps, but having 3-4 minutes recovery between sets. Lifting heavy is important, even for endurance athletes.


PROS:

- Improves muscle integrity: stronger and faster muscle contractions.

- Increases joint strength and stability. Estrogen and Progesterone both affect the tensile strength of tendons around our joints. As these hormones decline, we can suffer from the loosening of tendons and ligaments, causing joint pain. Lifting Heavy builds up our musculature and provides a stimulus for tension in our tendons, to bring about stability around joints.

- Reduces bone density loss. Lifting heavy helps us hold on to what we have. It’s the multi-directional stress of lifting heavy that creates a strong 'tug' of our muscles on the bone. It's this tug that stimulates the bones. Some argue that lifting heavy can improve bone density in post-menopause. More research is needed. And it’s coming.

- Improves immune system. Lifting Heavy brings about acute inflammation, which leads to a cascade of cytokines. Cytokines help the body’s immune system and overall body inflammation.

- Cardiovascular markers improve: better blood flow and better blood pressure control. Vaso-motor symptoms decrease (Hot flashes).

- Increases lean muscle mass. This helps to improve metabolic markers. And increased metabolism means we use more calories at rest. (Lifting Heavy is considered more effective at changing body composition than cardio.)

- Helps postural muscles and balance.


CONS:

- Technique is critical and may require working with a certified coach or trainer.

- You can’t just jump into lifting heavy: Building a strong functional body first is important.

- Requires equipment

- If you have osteoporosis or joint issues you should check with your doctor before lifting heavy.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides 1 Lifting Heavier workout a week as either a white board workout with a short video demonstrating the exercises or occasional livestream workouts. If you’re not sure if you are ready to perform Lifting Heavier then take our Foundational Self-Assessment which will help determine if you’re ready in terms of mobility and stability.



3. Low Impact Versus Higher Impact


Low impact.

Low impact workouts involve movements that don’t put a lot of stress on the body. They can still have intensity. This style of workout may be best for some folks who suffer from joint pain and instability.


PROS:

- Appropriate for some

- No or little equipment needed - Good for coming back from an injury or illness.


CONS:

- Doesn’t provide a strong enough stimulus for our bones and

- Doesn’t provide a strong enough stimulus for our muscles compared to alternative ways of exercising.


Higher impact / Jump Training

As estrogen declines, so does our bone density. We see the biggest decline the first 5 years post-menopause. Jump training, also referred to as plyometrics, can help our bone health. This form of exercise involves leaping, jumping, bounding, and hopping. We have been led to believe that low impact is good for us. And for some, it may be the better option, but for most, a small amount of higher impact training is good. Especially multi-directional impact. This is better for our bones than running (running is in one plane, and this doesn’t provide a strong enough stimulus). The purpose of jump training is not only for bone health, but also to help maintain neuro muscular integrity (helping us maintain fast and strong contractions). We lose this explosiveness very quickly during the menopause transition and beyond.

PROS:

- Improves muscle integrity: speed and strength of our muscle contractions, response and reaction time.

- Helps our bone density.

- Helps with blood sugar control (helps body composition).

- Improves metabolism and mitochondrial function (energy and power).

- Improves muscular strength (and body composition).

- Helps with posture.

- Shorter workouts (10 minutes) or can be part of a warm-up for Lifting Heavy or High Intensity Training.


CONS:

- Not appropriate for everyone.

- You need to ease into this type of training.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides Jump Training in the warm-ups for HITT / METCON workouts. (Options for less impact are also provided.)


What else should we be doing?

Mobility Work (Yoga, Stretching, Foam Rolling)

Mobility and flexibility both tend to decline as we age and can greatly impact our enjoyment in our favorite activities.


Hormone fluctuations coupled with natural aging can leave us feeling stiffer and tighter, and for some, more joint pain. As we get older our tissues are not as strong, we have less lubricating fluid inside the joints, thinner cartilage, and ligaments shorten and lose flexibility. During peri-menopause Estrogen and Progesterone start to fluctuate, and they both play a role in muscle tension. All these things leave us feeling stiffer and tighter.

Certain parts of our body are made to have mobility and others, stability. It’s important to work on maintaining mobility around our ankles, hip and thoracic spine.

There are a number of things we can do to help mobility / stiffness:

- Heating pad, Epson salts, infra-red sauna.

- Supplements: Vit D, Magnesium, curcumin, collagen, antioxidants, Essential Amino Acids post exercise, Omega 3. (Work with your medical provider to see what supplements would be a good option for you.)

- Staying hydrated.

- Mobility work.


Mobility work can include: massage, stretching, yoga, range of motion movement under tension, and foam rolling / trigger point work. Foam rolling helps with tissue release and moving fluids (which aids recovery). It’s accessible and cheaper than paying for body work. We’re finding that as we get older and tissues are not as compliant, foam rolling coupled with stretching can make a big difference.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides 1 yoga / stretching workout a week as a follow along video or occasional livestream workout. As well as 1 foam rolling workout a week.


Core work:

It’s not about having 6-pack abs. It’s about having a strong core to stabilize us by keeping the spine in a safe and neutral position during movement. This support makes us more resilient to injury, have better balance and overall function. Core work is more than doing crunches to work your abs! We like exercises that teach us to brace, to fight rotation, and that bring in the back muscles too. Core workouts don’t have to be stand-alone workouts, we like to weave them into existing workouts.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Provides core work as part our Body Weight / Functional Strength workouts, Lifting Heavy, and HIIT / METCON workouts.



Pelvic Floor Fitness:

During peri-menopause the decline in hormones affect our pelvic floor much like they affect the muscles in the rest of our body: they are less elastic, there is a loss of strength, and a loss of contraction speed. Just like we can lift heavy for our leg and arm muscles, we can work our pelvic flood by doing Kegels. (These are the muscles you would clench to stop yourself from urinating mid-stream. We don’t suggest you do this… but these are the muscles that make up part of our pelvic floor.) Kegels are exercises that involve purposely turning these muscles on and off.


However, it’s not just about strength. For some of us, it is learning to turn these muscles off and let them relax. It’s about un-kegeling. This can be especially true for athletic women who have a habitual pattern of bracing and clenching. When the pelvic floor muscles are in a constant state of being turned-on all the time, these muscles never truly relax and let go. So, when we really need them to do "heavy work", they are fatigued and can't achieve the high output needed, as a result we can experience ‘leaking of urine’ when we jump, run, sneeze or walk.


Breakaway Women’s Club: Will be offering a self-guided course to help you learn more about your pelvic floor and how to keep it healthy and functional.


Recovery:

Switching-up our exercise to include Low Intensity, Lifting Heavy, High Intensity, and Jump Training can only be effective if we have adequate recovery (and fueling). Rest allows our body to absorb the training and get maximum adaptation. Rest is when we make gains.

These recovery or de-load weeks have several benefits: they can help keep us motivated and prevent burn-out. They allow us to have the energy to really get after the higher intensity days.


Timing of recovery weeks depends on you and how your body is responding to training. It can also depend if you are in peri-menopause versus post-menopause.


If you’re peri-menopausal with a regular menstrual cycle, we suggest following what Stacy Simms recommends in her book Roar which is to time your workouts with your cycle. There are times during the month, your high hormone phase, when you are going to have lower energy, be more susceptible to injury, and have slower recovery from hard workouts. It makes sense to make this period your de-load or rest week. Once your period starts – that’s the time to get back after it. So, you will have 3 weeks of building your workouts, then the 4th week is a de-load. This is not just for elite athletes! It is for everyone who is working out consistently.


Post-menopausal women tend to do better with 2 weeks of build and the 3rd week a de-load week. This helps clear out the training stress (cortisol).


Here are some signs that you need to take a recovery week: when you are not able to hit the high training intensities, poor sleeping, irritability, mood changes, and depression: These are all signs it is time to back down and let your body (and mind) recover.


What does a rest week look like? It’s not inactive! If you are building up milage or training volume for an event you are preparing for, then this is a good time to reduce some of that volume by up to 40%. A 10-hour workout week becomes 6-hours during a rest week. We also suggest pulling back on some of the high intensity work. Bring in some body weight / functional strength workouts, focus more on mobility work, use this time to double down on skills and drills training, and go on that social hike or bike ride.


In Conclusion:

Women respond differently to workouts than men. And women 40+ respond differently than women 40-. "Traditional" ways to exercise (hours of zone 2 cardio, bodyweight strength work and low impact workouts) are not as effective in increasing lean mass, improving our metabolism (help with body composition) and preserving our bone density. We need a unique mix of workouts coupled with appropriate fueling and adequate rest. And by adequate rest: we’re talking about having recovery or deload weeks. This allows our body to “absorb” the workouts from the previous weeks.



Breakaway Women’s Club offers a healthy balance of Low Intensity (LISS), High Intensity Training (HIT), Functional Strength Work, Lifting Heavier, Jump Training and Mobility Work. It is this mix of workouts, in combination with fueling and resting, that works to improve our strength, endurance fitness, mobility, speed, bone density, metabolism and overall durability in our 40+ year old body. Making changes to the way you exercise will help you maximize what you can do at this stage in your life.

Our goal is to simplify things.

- Take the guesswork out of “how to workout”.

- To give you a healthy mix of options: Too much of a choice can be overwhelming, and not enough variety can lose our attention.

- To help you overcome barriers.

- To facilitate consistency. With consistency come results, increased motivation and confidence.


What if you're not a Woman 40+?

We welcome all. These workouts may be designed for women 40+, but they are GOOD for everyone. And we'd love for you to join us.

Try out the club to see if it's a good fit.


References:

Boutcher, Yati N., etal. The Effect of Sprint Interval Training on Body Composition of Postmenopausal Women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 51, no. 7 (2019): 1413-19


Boutcher, Yati, Boutcher, Stephen, Yoo, Hye & Meerkin, Jarrod. (2019).

The Effect of Sprint Interval Training on Body Composition of Postmenopausal Women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51, 1413-1419.


Dupuit, Marine, Rance, Melanie, Morel, Claire, Bouillon, Patrice, Pereira, Bruno, Bonnet, Alban, et al. (2020).

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 52, 736-745.


Exp Physiol. 2020 Jul 2. doi: 10.1113/EP088654. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32613697.


Maillard F, Pereira B, Boisseau N.

Sports Med. 2018 Feb;48(2):269-288. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0807-y. PMID: 29127602.


L. Gliemann Y. Hellsten.

11 May 2019


Torma et al.

Sports Medicine and Health Science. Volume 1, Issue 1, December 2019, Pages 24-32


Smale, K.B. et al.

Translational Sports Medicine 1, no. 1 (2018): 30-36









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