Period and periodizing - How your natural hormones can boost your training
Women are very much affected by their period (in life! and) during training - so how can we use our period to maximise and periodize our training?
Most of today's recommendations and advice for training are based on studies on men. However, new research shows how women can optimize their training and avoid women-specific health risks and sports injuries.
The period before ovulation is called the follicular phase, the "low hormonal-phase", and the period after ovulation is called the luteal phase, the "high hormonal-phase". Estrogen hormone that dominates during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle is considered to have a building, anabolic, effect and progesterone that dominates during the last two weeks is considered to have the opposite effect, catabol.
This is the phase where the female body is primed for high-intensity workouts
The increased levels of estrogen during the late follicular phase can hamper pre-exercise carbohydrate storage - so if you need to load up with carbs before performance make sure to do it thoroughly
As estrogen levels are higher during the late follicular phase it has been suggested that strength training might be more effective,
Significant increase in quadriceps strength during ovulation, compared to the follicular and luteal phases, has been reported - this means PB (personal best) time!
During the phase the body is not optimised for high-intensity training.
Pre-menstrual syndromes might interfere with your performance 7–10 days before your period
Your body mass might be higher due to fluid retention.
Some research show that this phase increases breathing and body temperature which affects your stamina
Regarding cardio there are unfortunately not as much research yet, however we can always "girl-guess" and draw some conclusions! Experimental studies show that in the luteal phase (the period after ovulation) when progesterone levels are at their highest, fat burn during exercise may be more effective. Theoretically, this could provide an advantage to increase the amount of cardio during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle, but it has not been confirmed in any scientific training studies yet.
Remember, if you're training intensely it can also affect your period and well being negatively. Stress, low calorie intake, and hard training with insufficient energy supply can cause disturbance and an irregular period/hormonal cycle. So train hard but just and smart!
More reading and sources:
Mid University/MIUN - The menstrual cycle and female athletic performance