When was the last time your personal trainer asked you to log your period for a better program design?
Have you ever cancelled training sessions the week of your period? I’ve definitely had clients do this on multiple occasions.
However for most women it’s actually the opposite of what we should be doing.
I’ve recently been doing a lot of studying on strength training and the menstrual cycle, so I decided to test out my own personal program design.
As much as it’s a real pain in the ass our period is great indicator of our overall health. So it’s important to be in touch with your body and your cycle.
So first let’s break down the phases of our cycle…
And let me mention this doesn’t just go for strength training, but all workout programs. We want to use our menstrual cycle to our advantage and get better results.
Day 1-5 Menstruation
Day 1-13 Follicular Phase (the first few days are menstruation)
Day 14 Ovulation
Day 15-28 Luteal Phase
With Estrogen at it’s peak the follicular phase is said to be the best time to push as your mood, energy and strength peak. You want to train hard during this phase, this is when you will see the most gains plusssss you’ll recover faster. Throw some high-intensity intervals in there with all that strength training and you’re good to go!
We start to end the follicular phase when we go into ovulation. This is when testosterone rises and we are actually most like men. This is also a great time to log those PR’s.
Then we go into the luteal phase which is fun! Just kidding, it’s definitely not fun for me so if it’s fun for you then well awesome. This phase differs from women to women but progesterone rises and plunges, hunger increases, moods swing, core temp rises and we actually burn more calories. This phase is better for moderate strength training and low intensity cardio.
Of course during this phase you will train based on your own energy level so you can still continue muscle building.
I strength train during all phases so don’t feel that you can’t just be aware of what your body needs. It will absolutely tell you.
And be aware of bloating and cramping as lifting too heavy at this time can lead to injury if you are not careful.
So now during actual menstruation your training will be even more personal. Some women feel extra strong and want to exercise at high intensity with heavy loads. While some will need to lighten the load or go for a lighter workout all together.
Like I mentioned I tried this with my own personal program design and here’s how it went…
So I started week one during menstruation. My period is only 3-4 days and I don’t generally get bad cramps so for some of you this part will be very different. Day 1, I was just spotting so I got in a full lower body strength workout but day 2 my flow was very heavy so I stayed home and on day 3 I started my workout but wasn’t feeling it so I did a few big lifts and went home. The next two days my flow was pretty much over and I completed my normal strength exercises.
Week 2 full on follicular phase!
I upped the intensity on my strength workouts as suggested and that went very real. And yes on the day I was supposedly ovulating I pushed and my body went for it so yes to Ovulation day and Testosterone!
Week 3 Luteal Phase started off with a great workout but day 2 I did half of my Yoga-HIIT workout and day 3 I did most of my strength workout at less intensity. Skipped the next day and was very hungry and did most of the day after but was also very hungry. I didn’t workout over that weekend at all.
Now five days before my cycle started up again I began to up the intensity again.
Soooooooo I wrote everything down and wrote the article but waited before posting. This all happened about a year ago so I can tell you how I use this now. I have continued training this way and I love it. I listen to my body, I don’t just say oh I’m on my period so I’m just gonna skip today but if I feel out of it yes I skip or go for something less intense. But if my body is all for upping the intensity then that’s what I do.
I do have a tendency now to rest more the week before my period, I don’t skip working out, well sometimes I do but allowing my body to relax just makes me stronger when I do workout and the results I am getting are my own testament to listening to the phases of my cycle. Listening to your body is one of the best things you can do for yourself because your body will always guide you in the right direction if you just learn to listen.
I should also mention I tend to program for myself 4-6 week programs with week one being very light intensity and then increasing intensity each week. I also take a week off in between programs so I generally try to program so that week is when I am at my strongest and the week off of course follows right after when I would want to take it easy anyway. As with program design in general it can take some time to find what works best for you and then you still sometimes have to make tweaks or even change it up all together so with programming around your cycle it may take a little bit of figuring out what works best.
I hope this helps you push through when you would normally quit or even forgive yourself when you just don’t have the energy to push through.
Let me know what you think if you tried it out and loved it or even if you hated it…..
I have several different ways we can work together depending on what you are looking for and need. Schedule your EMPOWERMENT CHAT with me today!