Training around your menstrual cycle requires a different approach due to fluctuating hormones.
In general during the first half of your cycle (after day 1 of your period) you can start to turn up the intensity. This is because of higher levels of estrogen and insulin, in general. During this time women can consume and utilize carbohydrates as fuel more efficiently. Estrogen aids in tissue repair and prevents muscle atrophy.
During ovulation, you can train the hardest. The days that follow, however, you should start to taper your training intensity. These 2 weeks are a good time to focus more on form or recovery but not intensity. Trainees, male or female, need a rest or recovery week about ever 3-5 weeks anyway. During the latter half of your cycle, carbs aren’t as easily utilized so opt for protein and fats as your primary energy sources along with a lot of vegetables.
Most studies confirm that you can even add additional training sessions during the first half of your cycle as early as the first day of your period. Studies also show that you will start to notice an increase in strength and endurance about 3-4 days after you start your period.
Here is what a basic month might look like-
Day 1-14-Train 4-7 days per week. 45-60 minutes per session. 3-5 strength training days-75-100% of your max. 3-5 conditioning days consisting of running/rowing/jogging/sprinting/swimming/biking/HIIT/CrossFit metcons. You can even consider 2-a-days. Get plenty of carbs like Jasmine/white rice and potatoes.
Day 14/15-Go for a PR (personal record) on a 5k or 10k for example or a gym lift like deadlift, squat or bench press.
Day 15-28-Train 2-3 days per week-2 days of strength training-reduce the weight by 20-30% and focus on your form or mechanics. Limit your cardiovascular exercise to low or non impact movements like rowing, elliptical or swimming. Get plenty of sleep (you should anyway) and eat protein, vegetables and fat as your primary fuel.
If you need help setting up a monthly program like the one outlined above, contact any of the PACC’s personal trainers, who would be happy to help!