How The Menstrual Cycle Affects Female Exercise

Do you know those days when your workout is less effective than the day before? Even if you’re doing exactly the same exercises? Probably it’s because of your menstrual cycle.

The female hormones, oestrogen (E) and progesterone (P) fluctuate during the menstrual cycle and influence the physiological system and their action may effect exercise performance.

The first 2 weeks are the powerful ones

In the first 2 weeks – the follicular phase – oestrogen and progesterone are on their lowest level.  The literature suggests, that E is slightly higher than P and may promote endurance performance by altering protein, fat and carbohydrate, while P often works contraprodactive. So this low hormone phase is the time when women are at their most powerful level. During this time you can really push yourself.

Yoga and kettlebell training

Slow down in the second phase

P is dominant in the second phase (luteal phase) of the period. During this time women sometimes suffer from back pain, circulatory issues and cramps. You might happen to be less focused at this stage, hence the risk of injury can increase and you may experience poor results. It’s not unusual that during this time the body temperature rises and the sleep gets disturbed. Some women are craving in this time more for sweets an they can intake around 500 kcal more than usual. It’s because of the insulin resistance. All this affects the ability of having a good session at the gym.

So it makes more sense to cluster the diet or workout sessions in the first 2 weeks of the menstruation cycle when E is high. During this low-hormone phase women should aim to hit high-intensity training sessions, try for power workouts and speed activities and optimise recovery through nutrition.

Once you know your physiology, you can work with it to put out your best performance during every phase of your cycle.

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