How to train in tune with your menstrual cycle for best results

Have you ever wondered why on some days your training sessions are amazing and you are strong and killing it and on others you just want to sleep, not move and don’t have a lot of energy?

The reason for that might be your hormones. Your cycle can influence how you feel and affect your metabolic state and your training results.

The different phases of your menstrual cycle & how to adjust training

Menstruation

The day count for menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation. On those days you get your period, I suggest listening to your body and giving it what it needs. While some woman are not really affected and still want to work out, others just feel like having a bath, enjoying a bar of chocolate and relaxing. Use those days to give your body some rest to recover and refeed.

The follicular phase

Days 1-7 are your early follicular phase and in the first couple of days (1 to 3 or up to 5 days normally) you get your period. Days 8-14 are your late follicular phase.

Estrogen is the dominant hormone in your follicular phase and will be exerting anti-inflammatory effects and help with muscular remodeling from training which means you are able to recover faster from your workouts.

In the follicular phase your metabolic rate is normal whilst fat storage is lowered. Muscle growth on the other hand is increased.

As muscle growth is increased in your follicular phase and you are able to recover fast, this is the best time for progression and gains. It is the perfect time to focus on high intensity and high volume sessions. I suggest scheduling your strength, hypertrophy and intense conditioning sessions in this phase. 

The fact that your body is also more sensitive to insulin and uses more carbs for fuel which is perfect to fuel your hard training and gains.

Ovulation

During days 12-16 you are ovulating and your testosterone levels peak.

This leads to a rise in strength and power which means it is the best time to chase a new PR.

The luteal phase

Days 15-21 display your early luteal phase and days 22-28 your late luteal phase.

The luteal phase is dominated by progesterone. In this phase your fat storage and metabolic rate is increased whereas muscle growth is decreased.

In the early luteal phase your body will do best with moderate weights and a shift towards more mixed training like metabolic conditioning and circuits and interval training.

During your late luteal phase estrogen and progesterone decline and some woman also experience PMS. I would suggest sticking to low-intensity cardio and some bodyweight training during that time. It is also a great opportunity to focus more on mobility and work on your technique.

This does not all sound good and logical in theory but I can tell you from my own personal experience as well as from my coaching experience that it can make a difference, especially to those females who react very sensitive to hormonal changes!

Instead of working against your body, you should try to listen to it, decode it and work with it – in the end, your body will return you the favor and I promise that you will be surprise how your body and performance can change to the positive!

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