How to cycle through training for peak athletic performance

When it comes to working out, many trainers, influencers, and fitness programs will try to convince you that there’s only one right way to do it—and a million wrong ways. But the same is true for most areas of health and wellness, the best choice is the one that works best for you.

As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a Pilates/Lagree trainer and a wellness enthusiast with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science, learning the details of fitness routines and Food that makes you feel your best has always been a top concern to me. Current health question I am considering? Understand how to train during your period in a real way get a raise your health instead of feeling like an annoyance.

Of course, given the menstrual symptoms many of us experience, checking your menstrual cycle may sound less than ideal. But after reading books from trusted sources, listening to countless podcasts, and diving into endless pits, I’ve found answers that deepen my understanding of gentle and effective ways to exercise. your period, take advantage of a fascinating tool called “Cycle Synchronization,” and (most importantly) feel your best.

Featured image of Riley Reed.

Pictures of Riley Reed

Difference between male and female hormones

“Women are not little men,” says Dr. Stacy Sims, an exercise physiologist. Unfortunately, the opposite is still affecting many parts of the health and fitness world today.

Every day, men wake up with roughly the same amount of testosterone. This leads to a consistent overall mood and energy levels. Must be good, right? On the other hand, women, especially those who aren’t using birth control, don’t have consistent “drip” levels of hormones.

Like it or not, a woman’s body is preparing for a potential monthly pregnancy. Every day is different, and levels of estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone vary depending on the phase of our menstrual cycle.

Why is there a gender gap in studies?

Our male-centred healthcare system is one of the main reasons why women intentionally ignore most scientific research. Thankfully, efforts are underway to close this gap, and much is being done to shed light on the importance of under-representing women in medical research.

Alyson J. McGregor talks about the dangers of our historically male-focused approach in her book, Gender issues. In it, she shared a story about a female patient who almost walked out of the hospital when she had a heart attack. Because her symptoms differed from the classic male-centered pattern, she was rejected by a cardiologist and her symptoms were classified as “anxiety”. McGregor resisted this assessment, which led to the discovery of an occlusion in the patient’s main artery. The patient underwent a life-saving procedure in a timely manner.

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The benefits of exercising on your cycle

There are certain points in our menstrual cycle when women are at their peak, build muscle more efficiently, and experience less soreness after a workout. We burn even more calories in the later stages of our cycle!

Many sports teams, like the US Women’s Soccer Team, have applied these revolutionary findings in training their athletes to work. with their cycle and not against it.

‘What can we see [menstrual cycle] Scott said. ‘I’ll just text or say to one player, ‘Hey you’re on stage three and we know you have sleep disruptions so make sure you do x, y and z. ‘

– Dawn Scott, talking about training USWNT

Image courtesy of Liana Levi

Tips for working on your period

Clean the air: If you move your body in any way, you’re an athlete — and you can learn how to use your menstrual cycle to optimize athletic performance. Below, I’ll dive into each phase of the menstrual cycle, breaking down how exercise during your period and how hormones affect our mood, motivation, and energy levels.

A quick reminder: every body and person is different. These recommendations come from the latest scientific research, but there is still a lot to be discovered.

Menstrual phase (Day 1-5)

Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period. While many people think it’s best not to exercise on this day, in reality, exercise is OK and safe. Fun fact: British long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe allegedly broke world records during her period—cramps and all. Compared to other phases of the cycle, our energy and performance drop a bit during menstruation, but exercise can help improve mood and ease PMS symptoms.

Hormones at play: Low estrogen and progesterone

How they affect us: Low energy and PMS . symptoms

The best exercises for this stage: Gentle exercise like walking, yoga or pilates. If you want more intense workouts, you should do strength training and HIIT.

Follicular phase (Days 6-13)

The hair follicle phase is a great time to schedule high-intensity workouts like strength training and focus on building muscle. Based on The Woman Element: The Bible of Whole Body Women’s Health“Estrogen boosts energy levels, promotes muscle building, and enhances recovery, including reducing swelling and muscle soreness the next day.” Estrogen also acts as an appetite suppressant, so cravings are no longer common.

Hormones at play: An increase in estrogen and testosterone

How they affect us: Increased energy and motivation, decreased appetite, high pain threshold, and high spatial awareness. It’s also easier to build muscle and recover faster.

The best exercises for this stage: Any and every type of movement. This is the time to push yourself with new and challenging workouts. If your goal is to build muscle, focus on weight training and HIIT.

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Ovulation phase (Day 14)

Lasting only 36 hours, this is the shortest phase of our cycle. But due to the high levels of estrogen and testosterone, we feel our highest energy, motivation and physical strength during ovulation.

Hormones at play: High level of estrogen and increase of testosterone

How they affect us: Increases pain tolerance and improves social skills, motivation, energy, confidence and dopamine levels.

The best exercises for this stage: Physical performance is at its peak. Running, twisting, lifting weights, and high-impact exercises are all great ways to get moving during this phase.

Photos of Belathée Photography

Luteal phase (Day 15-28)

Immediately after ovulation, estrogen drops and progesterone begins to rise. Our bodies are working hard and studies have found that we need more energy (calories) during this phase, leading to cravings and increased cravings.

In Fix your periodNicole Jardim, a Certified Women’s Health Coach, writes:

“This is the time in your cycle when the decks are cleared (you are no longer using the estrogen blindfold), and you begin to examine what is working and not working in your life. friend. How is your work? What about your relationships, or even certain friendships? […] Take a minute to reflect on the deeper reasons for your feelings. ”

Early luteal phase

Hormones at play: High progesterone, low estrogen and testosterone

How they affect us: Increased focus, low oxytocin levels, improved aerobic performance, increased body temperature, water retention, bloating, decreased coordination and reaction times, blood sugar instability, and low blood sodium levels.

The best exercises for this stage: Moderate intensity, cardio (kickboxing, running and spinning), longer workouts due to increased endurance during this phase.

Late luteal phase

Hormones at play: High progesterone, low estrogen and testosterone

How they affect us: The effect is similar to the early luteal phase; oxytocin levels are low, energy levels are low, irritability, and sleep disruptions.

The best exercises for this stage: Prioritize recovery and choose low-intensity exercises like walking, swimming, hiking, and yoga.

Why is it important to track your menstrual cycle?

When I hear about menstrual tracking, it’s usually because a friend wants to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant. So I was intrigued to learn that cycle tracking can improve fitness. After diving into research, I now believe that tracking your menstrual cycle is a must for everyone who is menstruating. Not simply to get pregnant or exercise, but to live in harmony with our bodies.

Unfortunately, this is not something we are taught from an early age. But many medical and health professionals are calling the menstrual cycle the “fifth vital sign,” and more research, conversation, and movement in this space is becoming more encompassing in scope.

How to track your menstrual cycle

There are many ways to track your cycle, and the same is true for all areas of health and wellness (I can’t help repeating!), the best option is the supportive option. friend. There is no shortage of highly recommended apps. The FitrWoman app is my personal favorite because it was developed by leading researchers in the field (the same team that advises the US Women’s Soccer Team!). If it’s good enough for them, it sure good enough for me.

Of course, there are many other methods. Planned Parenthood provides an in-depth guide to using the calendar method, where you’re tracking the length of your menstrual cycle over the course of several months. For more resources, consult your healthcare provider to connect you with an option that works best for you.

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What’s next?

Track your cycle, log your findings, and keep learning about your menstrual cycle. The more awareness and intention you have about your menstrual cycle, the more you can understand what works for you and what doesn’t. I’ve been planning to overhaul the way I approach not only my assignments but also big work projects, social events, and even date nights. This is just the beginning, and I’m excited to continue learning — and expanding — how to harness the power of my cycle.

To read more

The list below is a great place to start if you want to learn more, but there are plenty of other resources out there. Drop your favorites in the comments for me, and other readers, to check out!

This newspaper only gives true information. It is not, nor is it intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and we recommend that you always consult your healthcare provider.

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