As women get older, it gets harder to shed stubborn belly fat. Metabolism decreases as estrogen levels fall around menopause, leading to what has been called a menopause belly or meno-pot.
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to lose weight around your midsection.
Obviously, you want to improve your body image — but losing a menopause belly goes far beyond just looks!
A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that abdominal fat is related to a higher death rate in postmenopausal women — even in women who are at a normal weight! It also showed that central obesity was correlated with a higher risk for cancer mortality as well as all-cause mortality.
That means your lean body mass and body fat distribution play a huge role in your health — it's much more than just a number on a scale!
This makes losing that menopause belly all the more important.
In this article, we'll teach you:
- What you need to know about weight loss as you age.
- Strength training exercises that go beyond endless crunches.
- Cardio exercises — and not just slogging it out on the treadmill.
- Nutrition tips to help you drop pounds — and keep them off.
- And more!
Check out these tips on how women can lose belly fat fast!
Getting Started On Your Weight Loss Journey
Let’s start at the beginning — to lose weight; you will need to burn more calories than you consume.
You may think that cardio is the only way to burn enough calories to lose body fat, but that is far from the truth. Both cardio and strength training are essential to get your weight under control, and resistance training is essential for weight loss and decreasing fat mass.
Not only do these strength-building sessions burn calories, but they also increase your lean body mass and metabolism. This keeps your body burning calories even when you are at rest, which enhances your overall weight loss.
This is especially important for women.
After the age of 30, your metabolism starts to drop as your lean body mass decreases. These decreases in muscle mass can be combated with strength training.
Many women skip strength training, thinking it doesn’t burn as many calories as aerobic exercises. However, this really depends on the type of exercise you are doing.
If you go to the gym and curl a couple of two-pound dumbbells, you won’t get your metabolism revved up. On the other hand, a full-body resistance workout can burn a significant amount of calories, and the benefits of fat loss don’t stop there.
By building lean body mass, you will increase your metabolic rate at rest to burn more calories throughout the day. Step one to losing that menopause belly!
Strength training should include full-body workouts and workouts specifically designed to hit the core muscles.
While you can’t spot-reduce belly fat, a good core and abdominal workout is essential for overall fitness.
Plus, this type of strength training will make your abdominal muscles more prominent once you shed some of that menopause belly. Just like fat anywhere else on the body, you can’t just spot-reduce belly fat. You can’t lose weight from specific places no matter how much you work the muscles in that area.
This means countless crunches and side bends are not the answer here.
While core exercises are a necessary part of any training program, it is only one component. In order to lose your menopause belly for good, you will need to follow a comprehensive fitness routine that incorporates strength training, cardio, and a quality nutrition plan.
5 Great Strength Training Moves To Lose Your Menopause Belly
These great strength exercises will build overall lean body mass while strengthening your midsection and decreasing your menopause belly. You may be surprised to find this doesn’t include laying on a mat doing a bunch of crunches! These are all compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups to burn some serious calories, all while engaging your core.
1. Farmer’s March
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides.
- They should be heavy enough that you need to engage your core, arms, and upper and middle back muscles to hold them.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together while contracting your abs.
- Bring your left knee up as high as you can, keeping your foot flexed.
- Step forward and repeat with the right leg.
- Walk 50-100 feet forward, then turn around and walk back to complete one set.
- Do three sets to start.
2. Dumbbell Squat and Press
- Grab either a light barbell or a lightweight aerobic bar.
- Stand slightly wider than shoulder-width with your hands even wider, almost to the ends of the bar.
- Hold the bar overhead.
- Squat down until your upper legs are parallel to the floor (or slightly lower).
- Drive through your feet to stand back up, keeping the bar overhead.
- Repeat 8-10 times.
- Aim to do three sets of this move.
While this may seem more like a lower body exercise at first glance, this is actually a killer core move. Holding the weight overhead places your center of gravity much higher, making this an intense abdominal workout. The tension in your deep core muscles is also enhanced by keeping your upper body elongated throughout the exercise.
3. Spider-Man Push-Ups
- Start in a plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists and legs out behind you.
- Contract your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight.
- As you lower and exhale, bend your elbows outward to the sides while you bend your right knee to your right elbow.
- Press back up, then repeat the push-up, but this time bring your left knee to your left elbow.
- Continue alternating sides for 10-12 reps total.
- Aim for three sets.
4. Curls to Bent Over Rows
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Curl the weights up, then lower them back down.
- Now, lean forward and bend both knees while keeping your back flat.
- Extend your arms so they are straight.
- Pull the dumbbells straight up to chest level while you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
- Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
5. Reverse Lunge With Twist
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Hold a five- to 10-pound medicine ball with both hands with your arms outstretched in front of you.
- Contract your abs and take a big step back with your right foot.
- Plant your foot and lower your body into a lunge.
- As you sink into the lunge, twist your torso to the left with the medicine ball still stretched out in your arms.
- Then twist back to the center as you straighten your legs.
- Bring your feet together, then step back on your left leg, twisting to the right.
- Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
These exercises are great because they are all compound movements that work multiple muscle groups — your back, legs, arms, shoulders, chest, and core are all being targeted. That means you are burning more calories, increasing lean muscle mass, and strengthening your core all at the same time! That also means bye-bye menopause belly!
Find out why strength training is vital to combat muscle loss and promote longevity!
Compound resistance training exercises are a great way to burn calories and build lean muscle mass at the same time. But you also need to incorporate cardio if you want to really lose stubborn belly fat.
By raising your heart rate through aerobic exercises you will be burning calories at a high rate. Cardio will also increase how many calories you burn after your workout, such as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
The higher the intensity and duration of your workout, the better your body will be at burning calories hours after your workout has ended.
Research shows that continuous cardio and interval training produce similar calorie-burning effects; however, interval training can be done in a shorter period of time with the same benefits. For example, one study found that running sprint intervals increased aerobic capacity, peak running speed, and fat-free mass in women.
So if you are short on time, a quick 20-minute HIIT workout will burn some serious calories. But if you would rather do a lower intensity 50-60 minute cardio session, this is still an excellent option to aid in fat loss.
When choosing cardio exercises, picking activities you enjoy is important so you stay motivated to stick to your workouts.
Anything that gets the heart rate up is going to help you burn weight and shed that menopause belly. Biking, swimming, running, rowing, and HIIT intervals are great aerobic exercises. These workouts will burn calories and also force you to engage your core. This will strengthen those core and abdominal muscles to give you a toned midsection.
If you are unsure of where to start, here is an example of a great HIIT workout to help rid yourself of your menopause belly.
Perform 30 seconds for each of the following moves:
- Jump Rope
- High Knees
- Butt Kickers
- Squat Jumps
Do this twice for a total of a four-minute warm-up. Rest for one minute, then start the main set.
Perform each exercise as quickly as you can for 30 seconds, then take 30 seconds of rest and immediately move on to the next exercise. After the circuit, rest for one minute. Then repeat two more times. Each exercise will burn calories while forcing you to engage and contract your core.
- Mountain Climbers
- Russian Twists
- Side to Side Push-Ups
- Kettlebell Swings
Do some light jogging in place for 1-2 minutes. Follow with some upper and lower body stretches to make sure you have cooled down completely.
This is just one example of a cardio workout you can add to your weekly schedule. You can always mix it up, and remember to choose things that you will enjoy doing!
Learn about the best types of cardio for fat loss and the science behind cardio for women!
Shed That Stubborn Menopause Belly with Healthy Eating
If you really want to get rid of your menopause belly, you have to take a good hard look at your nutrition.
No matter how much you work out, you can't out-exercise a bad diet!
Making smart food choices throughout the day is essential if you really want to shed that belly fat. You need to limit foods that contain simple carbs and added sugars. These types of foods will spike your insulin levels and will make your body more prone to storing weight around the midsection.
You also want to be sure to get an adequate amount of protein after a workout to help rebuild broken-down muscle tissue.
It’s also not helpful to think of foods as “bad” or “off-limits.” If you start depriving yourself of what you love, you likely won't follow your nutrition plan for long.
Fitness and health are about lifestyle changes, not quick fixes.
In the end, it’s all about smart nutrition decisions. Simple things like drinking water instead of sugary drinks and eating fresh whole foods instead of processed, packaged foods are little things that can make a big difference.
You should also make it a habit to keep a food journal and keep track of your calorie intake throughout the day. There are great nutrition apps that even allow you to scan labels or quickly look up a food's nutrition content, so there is never an excuse not to know what you are putting into your body!
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on the menopause belly.