Okay, ladies. This one is for us.
If you’ve ever monitored your body closely and how it changes throughout your cycle, you may really notice how right before and during your period you feel weak and almost chronically fatigued. Well, this is completely natural due to estrogen declining and progesterone increasing. This phase is actually called the ‘Luteal Phase’ and it’s actually best to treat this time of month like a bit of a deload week and focus on recovery! You can’t beat mother nature, so why not work with her and tone it down a bit during this time.
The phases leading up to the initial phase I mentioned are called the “Follicular Phase” (Day 0-14) and Ovulation (Day 14).
In the Follicular Phase, this is when you can consume higher amounts of carbs in push yourself a little harder in the gym. At this time of the month, women may find they have a higher tolerance for pain and training discomfort, increased endurance and yes, even the ability to generate higher maximum force. This could mean time for a PR!
What’s even better is that during this time, a woman’s insulin sensitivity is higher so she can stand to consume more carbs.
During the Ovulation Phase, you could easily test out a new 1RM, but be careful because women are more prone to injury now as estrogen being so high that it can impact muscle control and negatively affect collagen.
Don’t let this stop you from training harder and going for big lifts, but be a bit more careful and listen to your body’s feedback in regards to fatigue.
Women may also find that they’re more hungry now as the metabolism rises during this phase, but it’s important to ensure your macros are balanced because insulin sensitivity is going drop!
Finally, once our periods start, our bodies are on the road to normalcy and it’s good to get back into your regular routine both with training and nutrition.
It can be tough dealing with the constant ups and downs of the menstrual cycle when you’re a female athlete, but we’re tough and there are ways to train WITH your cycle and get the most out of it in and out of the gym and don’t be afraid to take some down time if you feel you need it!
In the end, it’s important that you really just listen to your body. You will indeed reap the benefits of doing so!