Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Strength training keeps women in better shape than HRT
Menopause & muscle
The great scientific expert on the link between female hormones, menopause and health was the American endocrinologist Eric Poehlman. Poehlman was given a prison sentence in 2006 for scientific fraud. Financed by pharmaceutical companies such as Lilly, Poehlman produced scores of classic studies that showed that menopausal women became healthier, more muscled and slimmer if they were given synthetic hormones. One of his colleagues, however, managed to show that Poehlman had fabricated the data in his studies. [nytimes.com October 22, 2006]
Other studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of cancer. [Lancet. 2005 Apr 30-May 6;365(9470):1543-51.]
The researchers did an experiment with 2 groups of just over 110 women. One group did no training; the other group went to the gym 3 times a week. The women did 2 training sessions at 70 percent of their 1RM, and 1 at 80 percent of their 1RM. They did basic exercises: leg press, hack squats, smith squats, lat pull downs, lateral rows, back extensions en dumbbell presses. On top of that they did stair-climbing or aerobics.
Half of the women in each group were given hormone replacement therapy. Most of them got a pill containing estradiol and progesterone analogues.
The figures tell us that strength training has a stronger effect on muscle mass than hormone therapy does. Hormone therapy does reduce fat mass, and as a result strengthens the effect of weight training a little, but the weight training has a bigger effect.
The figures above are encouraging, but not enough. They don't show how effective weight training can be. Not all the women were faithful in their training. Many of them skipped training sessions. When the researchers split their data up according to how much training the women had done, they discovered that the more faithfully the women had trained, the stronger the beneficial effect was.