Ladies, do you ever feel like some weeks you’re hitting personal bests with ease, sprinting around the gym with tons of energy and feel completely in control of your exercise and nutrition?
Whilst other weeks every weight you lift feels 10x heavier than normal? You are sweating more than normal and you want to eat all the carbohydrates in sight?
Why do we fluctuate between feeling on top of the world with our training and then feeling like everything is just a dam right struggle?
Women’s hormones are finally being studied in more detail to see what link they have to athletic performance giving us information on how we should manage our menstrual cycle and train differently throughout certain stages.
Whilst it’s highly recognised every woman goes through different signs and symptoms in their cycles, there are a few key points we can all take away from this research to help amplify our training. Changing our mindset to work with our hormones instead of fighting against our bodies natural rhythm.
We can break our cycles down into 2 main phases, the follicular and the luteal:
The follicular phase: Day 1 to 14 (typically)
We love this phase. Your period is over and Oestrogen levels are on the increase, this can help boost mood and raise energy levels, so you may be more motivated to workout. This is the phase where your body is ready to attack high intensity workouts, your hormones are at a great level to lift heavy weights and chase personal bests.
The luteal phase- 14-28 (typically)
This is the phase where your body begins to prepare for your period. Progesterone levels in the body are at their highest, which can leave the body feeling tired, you can be quicker to exhaust and likely to overheat. It’s not a great time to go hard on your training so opt for low-intensity workouts with more recovery time than usual. Core and stretch classes and low impact, are great options during this stage. If you are taking part in Strength classes, be kinder to yourself; if the weights you lifted last week aren’t going up today that’s ok! Take time to focus more inadeptly on technique and controlling your movements.
During these weeks, you will also probably feel hungrier than usual, and the hunger cues will be screaming at you. This is completely normal. It has been researched that your body uses up to 5-10% more calories during this premenstrual phase. Listen to these hunger cues and fuel your body with nutritious food to allow your body to do what needs to be done. It is highly recommended that if you are tracking calories, during this phase you would look to eat your maintenance rather than deficit calories to support your body’s function.