Coaching for Women
Training to match your hormonal time of the month and stage of life will maximise your training adaptions
As we move through our menstrual cycle our hormone levels change. Day 1 of the bleed estrogen and progesterone are low. The follicular and early luteal phases are seen as our low hormonal time whereas mid to late luteal phase is seen as our high hormonal time.
Matching the sort of training we do alongside our cycle has been shown to maximize training adaptions. Sung et al.(2014) Duration 3 cycles, untrained women. Follicular phase training increased strength and x-sectional area of muscle vs Luteal phase training (no OCP)
So how does this look? Assuming you have a 28 day cycle:
Days1-14: High intensity speed work, lifting heavy, plyometrics
Days 14-21: Endurance Focus
Days 22-28: Recovery Focus
Of course, we are all different and may not have a 28 day cycle! The first thing to do is start tracking your cycle so you get a feel for how long it is and how you feel during the different phases. Then you can adjust the types of training you do to match how long you spend in the low and high hormonal phases. There are many useful tracking apps out there now.
Did you know? taking the Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) puts you in a continuous high hormonal state. This can have physiological impacts on;
Strength training- lower skeletal muscle synthesis.
Endurance training- limitations to aerobic and anaerobic capacity, a decrease in the ability to adapt to high intensity training.
It also masks your natural menstrual cycle which is a key monitoring tool to how well you are adapting to your training load. Frequent irregularities can mean that there is an imbalance between your training load and your energy intake which can lead to health issues further down the track.
Daalgarrd et al. (2019) Duration 10 weeks, untrained women, 3xweek progressive resistance training. OC vs NOC. Greater x-sectional area of type 1 fibres but no increase in strength with OCP
Training Through PeriMenopause and Post Menopause
At some point we experience major hormonal changes. It starts with perimenopause as our hormones start to wildly fluctuate. When we have gone 12months with out a period we are then post menopausal. Menopause is the anniversary of that day!
During Peri and Post Menopause our training routines need to change to counteract the loss of muscle mass and bone density. If you are only running, tramping, biking or swimming these activities dont produce the training stimulus we need.
Women who continue with the training strategies they have been using in their younger years often find that they no longer work. They are putting on belly fat, getting slower, losing muscle mass.
By adjusting your weekly workouts to include some high intensity and strength training along with well timed quality protein intake you can stimulate muscle growth, look after your bones and remain strong so that you can keep doing the exercise that you love.
I will certainly never give up my long runs and bikes. By including other types of training I am ensuring that I can continue doing them for as long as I can put one foot in front of the other!