Overview of the menstrual cycle
Understanding our menstrual cycle means we can use our hormones to our advantage. For those on a natural cycle, its important to track how you feel, so you can train effectively and feel more confident whilst increasing your performance. For coaches - it's important to periodise your training over a month as well as over a week for women.
We have two main phases in a (28 day) cycle
FOLLICULAR PHASE (first two weeks)
This has 3 subphases
Menstrual phase - bleeding. Days 3-7
Follicular phase - hormones oestrogen + progesterone are at their lowest. Day 5-11
Ovulatory phase - oestrogen dominates at day 9-15 where it peaks around day 14 (egg release). Progesterone is still low at this point.
LUTEAL PHASE (second two weeks)
- Oestrogen drops slightly but then rises again (not to ovulatory levels).
- Progesterone is the main hormone and peaks around 4-5 days pre period (PMS symptoms here.
- Women can vary around 6x in progesterone levels.
Hormones + training
Usually weeks 1-2 is a bit harder for training. We feel good, at our peaks. Week 3 is a moderate load and week 4 is a bit lighter.
In the FOLLICULAR phase we can train a bit harder. Oestrogen helps us here.
For runners - higher intensity, we can do 2-3x speed sessions this week, have less recovery time between reps
For strength work - harder reps, heavy lifting, more HIIT training, plyometrics - even more burpees!
Generally women feel pretty good at this stage
In LUTEAL phase we moderate based on how each woman feels. Women have a higher core temperature + elevated HR. Training can feel harder in these weeks.
Week 3 training
For runners - more fartlek/tempo based work. You can push a bit if feeling good. Maybe aim for 70% load intensity on /50% intensity off in these sessions.
For strength - more hypertrophy work - higher rep load, more endurance based training. 3x 8-15 reps
Week 4 training
Pending how you feel, add more pilates/yoga/balance based work here. Recovery runs, bike riding, swimming, light tempo work, drills, form technique based sessions instead.
Mental health + PMS symptom based training here. Yoga/Pilates can be quite helpful if you are someone that experiences these symptoms.
Your coach and we want your training to be sustainable, feeling mentally good, physically good and holding confidence in your body!