I've spent a lot of time researching the differences between men and women when it comes to training. I've completed the Dr Stacy Simms 'Women are Not Small Men' training course and it's been a real eye opener!
As you will know, we feel differently at each stage of our menstrual cycle. If you've not noticed, then try tracking the following consistently for 2 full menstrual cycles and see the results;
Energy / Lethargy
Cramps and Pains
Quality of relationships
It is possible, and actually quite productive, to adapt your training program to your cycle:
The follicular phase
This is the phase of the menstrual cycle that starts after your period ends and ends with ovulation. You can track when you ovulate by buying some super cheap pee-on-ovulation-sticks from amazon, if you want.
Estrogen levels are rising during this phase, which can give you more energy and make you feel stronger. This is a good time to focus on hard intervals and other high-intensity workouts.
The luteal phase
This is the phase of the menstrual cycle that starts after ovulation and ends with the start of your next period. No tests required for when this happens!
Progesterone levels are rising during this phase, which can make you feel tired and sluggish. This is a good time to focus on lighter workouts and recovery.
During your period
This is the time of the menstrual cycle when you are bleeding.
Your body is working hard to shed the uterine lining, so it is important to listen to your body and take it easy. If you feel up to it, you can do some light exercise, but avoid hard intervals and other high-intensity workouts, save those for when you can get most bang-for-your-buck in the next phase!
It is important to note that everyone's body is different, so what works for you may not work for your best friend.
If you are unsure about when to do hard intervals during your menstrual cycle, it is always best to talk to a coach.
Here are some additional tips from Dr. Sims for training during your menstrual cycle:
Stay hydrated. It is important to stay hydrated throughout your menstrual cycle, but it is especially important during the follicular and luteal phases (from the end of your period to the point just before it starts again). Drink plenty of water and other fluids to help your body stay cool and functioning properly.
Fuel your body properly. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help your body get the nutrients it needs to recover from workouts and stay healthy. There are certain foods and supplements that can help women specifically - we'll cover that in another blog.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for recovery and overall health. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
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