In women, the ovarian cycle is the body’s monthly report card for health. A regular cycle lasts approximately 21-35 days and is divided into two phases: the follicular phase – driven by an increase in estradiol (estrogen); and the luteal phase – driven by a rise in progesterone.
With these fluctuating hormone levels, we can start to adapt our training to different stages of our monthly cycles to get the best outcomes.
– Day 1-7: Menstruation (bleeding) – hormone levels are at their lowest as the uterine lining is shed. In training, this is the safest time to go heavier with your training (if symptoms and energy levels allow).
– Day 8-14: Follicular phase. Estradiol steadily rises in preparation for ovulation. In this phase, energy levels rise but we should be mindful of our intensity and load as we are at increased risk of tendon injury during this phase.
– Day 15-28: Luteal phase. Estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone fall following ovulation and progesterone rises in preparation for implantation. In this phase, it is safe to lift heavy (due to the protective effects of progesterone), however intensity may need to be lowered due to higher core body temperature and lower energy levels (as well as PMS symptoms). Lower intensity, endurance-based activities may be more manageable during this stage.
In all people, psychology trumps physiology, so as well as considering what your body is doing, it is also important to take into account how you FEEL and this is how we will guide your training.
I am passionate about women’s health and particularly how it affects us in the realm of strength training so get in contact with me if you’d like to find out more!
-Bec (Performance Coach)
(image source: Kayla Mulvogue, Applied Women’s Physiology & Training (2020))