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Training Adaptations & The Menstrual Cycle

Have you ever tracked your cycle?

If not, maybe you should, here's why.


The Menstrual Cycle can last anywhere between 21-40 days (shocking right?), but based on averages here is an overview:


Clue (2023)


The Follicular Phase (Day 0 -14)


Day 0 - 6 aka 'The Period'

Oestrogen and Progesterone are low and the lining of the womb sheds = period.

Day 6 -14 aka 'Late Follicular Phase'

After the period, oestrogen rises, peaking just before ovulation and, with a surge of the Luteinising hormone (LH), ovulation is triggered.


But how does the Follicular Phase affect my training?


During the period, a dip in strength and endurance is likely, so maybe back off with some lighter weights and lower the intensity, focusing on form and range of motion. Instead of that HITT workout opt for some LISS, a light jog or walk.


BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


After all of this drama, in the later follicular phase, oestrogen rises, boosting energy levels. This promotes muscle building and improves recovery. A great window to increase the intensity and hit some PBs.


Day 14 - 17 aka 'Ovulation'


Strength and performance are strong (with the help of testosterone), but ensure a good warm-up to prevent any chance of injuries.


Days 17 - 28 aka 'The Luteal Phase'

Progesterone levels rise and surpass oestrogen (oestrogen is still high), preparing the lining of the womb for pregnancy. During the late luteal phase if pregnancy does not occur, progesterone and oestrogen levels fall and the period occurs, the cycle then resets.

How does the Luteal Phase affect my training?


During the early/mid-phase, aerobic performance increases. With an emphasis on hydration and recovery, this could be a great time for that 5k run or those capacity sessions you have been skipping (yes, you).


In the later phase, light to moderate exercise should be prioritised to help with PMS symptoms. Disruption in sleep is likely, and more self-care is necessary! Focus on planned rest days and active recovery, like walking and yoga.


Summary:


Days 0 - 6: Strength and performance dips, lower the intensity

Days 6 - 17: Strength and performance are optimal, prioritise a good warm-up to prevent injury

Days 17 - 21: Enhanced aerobic performance, focus on hydration and recovery

Days 21 - 28: Prioritise self-care and active recovery



*DISCLAIMER*

This is a guide. There is no 'one size fits all' approach and each individual will have varied experiences. The best practice is to track your personal cycle and make changes based on your body. It is also worth noting that any form of contraception will influence this cycle.





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