Training around the menstrual cycle.
A woman’s menstrual cycle is not something to be taken lightly.
*Pause for inappropriate banter and giggles*
I will pause again…
The menstrual cycle can play havoc with a females training and often is underestimated when females are training hard, trying to improve body composition or get stronger/fitter. I will admit I am no expert, but there are some basics that can be done to help women train more efficiently.
- Disclaimer – I do not profess to know how a menstrual cycle feels. I do not profess to be an expert. This is just some common sense advice for you based on my knowledge of it!
Firstly, read this short article…
Now lets delve into some more practical advice for each phase of the cycle.
Follicular Phase: 2 Weeks
- Start to incorporate more carbs post training. Preferably from whole foods, around 60-90 minutes post training. I am thinking rice, potatoes, fruit.
- If you are finding that you are still really hungry, then a general increase in carb intake during the day and evening will help. Again, make sure it is good quality carbs. Improved insulin sensitivity in this phase is not an excuse to binge on Ben and Jerry’s every night. Although a bit of Ice Cream, fruit and nut butter is a delicious little treat every now and then 🙂
- Start to allow intensity to increase in training. Within the classes at LiftOff don’t be scared to go a bit heavier in the strength days and work hard on the conditioning pieces!
- If you have had a particularly tough session or week, you could have one day of much higher good quality carbs to ‘reboot’ your recovery.
- The key here is higher training effort, needs higher fuel. Your body can deal with higher carbs so let that be something you try… but everyone is different so if you don’t deal with this well, be flexible enough to change!
Luteal Phase: 2 Weeks
- The dreaded carb cravings come into play here. Hopefully, eating higher carbs in the weeks beforehand will have slightly reduced this.
- Make sure to get in plenty of carbs around training still, you are less insulin sensitive but that doesn’t mean eat no carbs! Just be aware that your body won’t ‘handle’ carbs quite as well.
- Think of easy, healthy treats to beat these cravings. If I ever crave sugar I will try and have a bowl of fruit with greek yoghurt and almond butter. It kind of takes the sweet craving away a bit and satiates me without crushing five tubs of ice cream…
- Go easy on yourself…if training is a chore then feel free to take your foot of the accelerator in classes! This doesn’t need to be noticeable to others or become a big thing, you just are sensible with how you approach training and most importantly know why maybe you had a bad session.
- Take recovery extra seriously. More sleep, better quality food, more breathing/meditation/walking/easy aerobic work. Spend time making yourself feel better.
- Maybe instead of 5-6 sessions of training per week replace one or two with easy aerobic work, or swimming or just a nice sports massage.
Nature has made your path a bit more complicated ladies, but that does not mean you can’t still make progress and you CAN work around these issues. Just be mindful of how you personally are affected by your cycle and adjust things accordingly.
Happy training 🙂
- LiftOff CrossFit is a gym in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. We provide group classes with high end coaching. Tom is the co owner and head coach. For more information please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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