I’m not going to lie, this is something I personally didn’t tend to consider when it comes to my training, it’s also not talked about enough! If you have a period it can be very enlightening and helpful to use a period tracking app to monitor your cycle (I recommend Clue).
All of our periods will be different and each phase may be longer or shorter depending on what’s going on in your life (stress, relationships, hormones, and food can a few reasons) but below is an insight into how where you are in your menstrual cycle may affect your training/diet.
Phase 1 – The Period Days 1-6
Generally, a period will last around a week, but everyone will be different. During our period our hormone levels drop and a lack of iron can affect our energy levels and you may feel hungrier. Our weight and mood can fluctuate. We should listen to our bodies during this time and possibly reduce the intensity of your workouts.
Phase 2 – Follicular Phase Days 7-13
In this time our energy levels will generally increase and our mood is lifted. Studies suggest that strength training during this phase may result in higher increases in muscle strength, compared with other times of the month. This is a good time to really push ourselves in the gym, a spike in testosterone means this is a better time for “big lifts and PB’s” and this goes through into days 14-20.
Phase 3 – Ovulation Days 14-20
This is the phase we are most fertile and testosterone levels are high. This stage is a real hormone party, progesterone levels are low, meaning that the body’s overall pain tolerance increases. Energy levels will peak and we can train harder and more often. Our sex drive is likely to be highest here too 😉
Phase 4 – Luteal phase Days 21-28
This is where our metabolic rate increases, this just means that our body expends more energy whilst at rest. Body temperature will rise during this time so it’s important to stay hydrated and keep cool when exercising. Our strength may also decrease during this time. This is the stage you may experience the most ‘cravings’ and you may be most irritable. During this phase, a calorie deficit may be unrealistic.
I hope you find this blog helpful in understanding a little more about training around your period!
Written by Natalie Evans, Junior Coach.