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Understand Your Menstrual Cycle | Create Consistency In Your Workout Routine

Lets talk about your menstrual cycle. It is important and extremely insightful to take the changes that occur in your body into consideration during the phases of your menstrual cycle especially when starting a new fitness routine, or attempting to consistently train and build your strength and endurance.

As women it is important to know how our bodies work, so we can have a greater understanding to manage the changes accordingly. So lets get straight into it. Below is a few things you might want to know if A) you have a menstrual cycle B) you struggle with a consistent training/nutrition routine.

A few things you might want to know...

Insulin Resistance – Basically this means that the food you consume does not get transported into cells very well – which means that it gets stored as fat easier. So if you have greater insulin resistance it will be easier for you to gain weight if you are not active.

Insulin Sensitivity - if you have good insulin sensitivity then you are better able to consume energy (from food) and transport it into cells to use it – if you are not using it as energy and you are being slothy you will store it as fat. If you are using it for energy then it will be helpful to have carbs during this phase to assist with energy. 

Estrogen –Estrogen is a hormone that increases serotine levels (happy chemical) which means that higher levels of Estrogen means your mood will be enhanced.. Higher levels of Estrogen also means that you will have greater insulin sensitivity and also impacts on your ability to build muscle!

Progesterone – this is your sex hormone. So when this one increases it is priming your body for ‘baby making time’. Higher levels of progesterone causes insulin resistance, and this is going to impact on your food cravings and what foods you need to be eating! 

Testosterone – increases in testosterone will impact on your ability to build muscle!

Follicular phase- days 1 to 14 

The first 1-7 days of the follicular phase is classified as the menstrual phase. This phase is different for everyone and it is basically when you are having your period. You start of with lower levels of Estrogen but but then during the Follicular phase you have an increase in Estrogen. This has a cascading effect. It means that your serotine levels are higher (greater mood), and you also have greater insulin sensitivity.

So remember that with greater insulin sensitivity it means that the food you eat will get transported into cells better (if you are not being a sloth and staying active) which is going to greatly impact your ability to build muscle and get stronger.

During this phase it is time to focus on training harder, attending more classes, progressing

  • Higher intensity training – book your classes accordingly
  • Progress / train hard
  • Good recovery – Thanks to estrogen

Here at any.BODY Pilates & Exercise Physiology, there are multiple options available to assist in in progressing and changes. Each reformer is equipped with hand weights, resistance bands and various props to provide an added challenge to your regular Pilates exercises, and our instructors will often provide level 2 or level 3 options to advance each movement.

Ovulation 14-15

You will be strongest closet to the ovulation phase due to the spike in testosterone close to the ovulation phase. For this short period your metabolic rate will also increase, which means you will burn more calories but your hunger cravings will go up! You might crave carbohydrates, however protein and fat might b a better option to feel more satisfy and help with building muscle!

Luteal 15 - 28

This is your time to recover. During this time your body is also not great at shovelling carbs into cells (insulin resistance) therefore it might be a good idea to reduce your carbohydrate intake (even though your cravings will be at an all time high). This is also a catabolic phase which means your muscle breakdown is going to increase, so increasing your fat and protein sources is a must. You will have a lower ability to recover, therefore it is recommended that you focus on lower intensity training, focus on flexibility and not put pressure on yourself to progress.