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August 8, 2023

215 | Training Myths & Realities for Women Over 30

215 | Training Myths & Realities for Women Over 30 with Annie Miller

As a woman over 30 myself, I’ve fallen victim to or given into some common myths, but also found truth in them. Today I want to discuss possible shared experiences for those of us nearing 30 or in your 30’s.

I say nearing because I personally started to notice some of these “differences” in my late 20’s vs in my 30’s.

Let’s dive in.

A slowing metabolism:

There is new research that suggests that metabolism does not slow due to age alone until later in life – around 50’s and 60’s. And that the result of a slowing metabolism is more to do with lifestyle than age. 

Diet needs to be more restrictive:

It “felt” like I could eat anything and get/keep results. Many twenty somethings do. But we must go back to the metabolism data. Were you more active overall “back then”?

You know what, maybe it DOES need to be more restrictive now than when you were 22. But is that because you’re 33 now? or because you have a lower TDEE? You workout less frequently and less intensely? Because I’d bet buko bucks it’s the latter.

I could eat whatever I wanted (which is not true but I had a much larger buffer) when I was 22 because I was training twice per day for short bouts, or once a day but six days per week at very high work intensities, coaching competitive cheer where I was on my feet, spotting tumbling and coaching, and/working an internship in college strength – another very active job.

Let’s compare that to my 30’s…

Self employed, sitting at a desk, barely leave my house, and train for 35-50 minutes four days per week…

Which lifestyle allots for more leeway in the diet? Not age specific, lifestyle dependent. higher TDEE, higher intensity in workouts overall – intensity being heavier loads and likely higher work capacity, more consistency at a higher training frequency.

This is just MY example and comparison from 20 something single college student to working for myself to build my business, traveling the world full time starting at 28, and training taking a huge back seat.

That does bring me to another point. Muscle mass.

Muscle mass:

Having muscle mass is so so so important for many functions. If you’ve never listened to Dr Gabriel Lyon, I suggest you do if the conversation of obesity or having fat mass vs the importance of having muscle tissue. She knows far more than I do about the metabolic function and health of muscle. So, I’ll lead you there.

But what I can infer and speculate, is that having muscle is an important game changer. And it’s importance may increase with our age.

Because if one thing DOES change, it is the rate of tissue decay and regeneration. We know that around age 30 this increases decade by decade. Meaning higher rates of tissue decay vs generation. 

Please do not use that as an excuse to say you can’t build muscle past 30 years old or that you atrophy much quicker than you used to. Because that’s stretching this claim big time.

The same muscle building and retaining principles apply at 20 as they do at 30 as they do at 40. 

We need to provide a stimulus strong enough that requires new tissue to be built and we have to provide proper recovery for this to take place – sleep, hydration and protein intake being at the top. Stress management being secondary to those. I said what I said.

Obviously muscle mass comes from the training we take part in.

Adaptation to training:

Personally, I find that building muscle requires MORE recovery for the same effort. I can’t directly back this by science but it’s been my anecdotal experience. 

Take that with the largest grain of salt. I just know I was training more, and sleeping less, and was more jacked at 18. Though I probably have possessed more total muscle mass since those years.

The upside of training for years is that as consistent training age increases, you can likely get away with doing less and still maintain muscle mass AND strength. But there is data that suggests that to GAIN muscle and strength, you’ll need to increase both load and volume. Which makes sense.

Again that refers to training age. Not biological age. But at some point, those will be correlated.

I also think that we can tend to get stuck in the same routine or using the same weights for a given lift. We kind of find our baseline and just stay there. We forget that to make change (at any age) we need to provide that mechanical tension! We need to PUSH. That fact doesn’t stop when we hit 30.

Look for ways to step up in your training and demand more from your body.

You need more cardio because it burns fat:

STAWP – I know most of my audience won’t fall for this, but it can be tempting when your body IS changing and feeling different than it did in the past. Maybe you’re tempted to do more cardio because of these changes.

Here’s the thing – cardio is great for many areas of health. IF we’re adding in cardio for the joy of cardio, wanting to feel more aerobically fit or more athletic again, DO IT. If you’re adding in cardio simply to increase caloric deficit and increase energy expenditure, that’s fine too. I just want to be clear that the cardio isn’t directly making you lose fat. Even if it’s using fat as fuel, we need other things in place to LOSE FAT off our body. Which we covered in the metabolism discussion.

All in all, you can literally be the most fit you’ve ever been in your 30’s. Even in your 40’s. I know women in real life who this is true for. And the data is starting to back that up. Which we love to see.

If you’re feeling like your goals are impossible, or just harder to reach at 30 than they were at 20, consider ALLLLL factors. Maybe your body isn’t as “tight” as it used to be. But remember our discussion about cell breakdown. It’s real. 

Your body will always try to adapt to the stimuli you’re giving it. Move more, pay attention to your diet, track, don’t track, but PAY ATTENTION, prioritize sleep, and total energy output during the day.

I was SO SURPRISED how Nathanael and my body comp and total weight changed via world travels. I lost muscle for sure – less protein intake and way less lifting. But WALKING kept our overall weight and size down. Don’t underestimate the time you spend sitting or standing and moving throughout the day, outside of your exercise. It adds up big time.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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