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How your menstrual cycle affects strength training

Discussion in 'Female Fitness' started by missfit, Dec 18, 2019.
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46 posts
  • Dec 18, 2019
  • 0

Scientific studies are exploring how fluctuations of hormones across the menstrual cycle can lead to different outcomes in training.  Here are some tips to optimize your strength training, with your cycle in mind.

1. Don’t skip strength training in the first part of your cycle.
Several studies have looked at differences in responses to strength training in the follicular phase (the time from your period until ovulation), versus training in the luteal phase (from ovulation until your period).

Some research has found that strength training during the follicular phase resulted in higher increases in muscle strength compared to training in the luteal phase (1–3).
If you start paying attention to your cycle phases, you may find your strength training pays off the most in your follicular phase.
In plain English: NEVER skip leg day before you ovulate!

2. Watch out for tendon injuries in the fertile window.
A startling statistic for people playing sports is that women are 3 to 6 times more likely than men to have injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

A recent meta-review of studies looked at how hormonal changes may impact tendon laxity and risk of tendon injury. It found the risk was highest in the days leading up to ovulation, when estrogen is high. The luteal phase was associated with the lowest risk.  More research is needed, but it’s worth doing longer warm-up exercises and not overstretching during your fertile window.

3. Don’t beat yourself up in the second part of your cycle.
In the second part of your cycle, progesterone rises significantly. Your body temperature is also higher during this phase — body temp shoots up by at least 0.4 degrees celsius after ovulation and stays high until menstruation. Your body is preparing for a potential pregnancy, should an egg have been fertilized at ovulation.

As a result, you may find that you don’t have as much endurance during your luteal phase. You may not be able to hit max lifts, and may feel worse in training compared to the first part of your cycle.
So, don’t judge the results of your training based on your performance in this phase alone. Decreased performance is a perfectly normal experience in the luteal phase of your cycle.

4. Take rest days in the second part of your cycle.
Based on the info above, you might want to schedule your rest days during your luteal phase. That doesn’t mean you should entirely skip training in this phase, as you’ll still improve from strength training in the luteal phase. If you’re not sure exactly when you’re ovulating, or you want a baseline for how long your average luteal phase tends to be, try taking ovulation tests for a few cycles (ovulation can shift cycle-to-cycle, but it’s usually your follicular phase that’s getting shorter or longer).

Also, if you want to take time off from training for vacation, your luteal phase is a great time to take it in order to reduce impact on your strength goals.

8 posts
  • Aug 14, 2020
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Thanks for the great article

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