Does a woman’s cycle effect her workouts?


Does a woman’s cycle effect her workouts?

Yes a guy wrote this…..

So from time to time I post online that I’m interested in questions to be answered by me through our media outlets. I don’t ask for certain questions, I just ask for them. This makes it so that I will always have to be on my toes as a Coach and seek out further knowledge when needed.

This is great for you, the member, because our Coaches are always forced to seek out more information on subjects we maybe didn’t know about previously.

This subject however is one that as a Male I previously didn’t know much about. However, as a male thats trains females…..I should know about this stuff. Knowing more about this will now help me to give better advice and ask better questions. Coaches are problem preventers and problem solvers!

Understanding Female Menstrual Cycle

A females cycle is roughly 28 days long. This isn’t the case for all women but as in most things we can keep to general information. The cycle is broken up in to two main portions. The first phase is called the Follicular phase. During this phase Estrogen levels rise in the body. Body temperature is lower during this time and blood volume is typically higher. This section usually takes place between day 1-14 in a cycle.

The second phase is called the Luteal phase. This phase takes place between day 14-28 days. During this time progesterone levels rise. Your body temperature is typically a little higher during this time and blood volume is lower.

“Blood volume is an indications of how well you are absorbing¬†nutrients”

Why it’s important to understand a cycle

Understanding a woman’s menstrual cycle is important because it helps to know how your body reacts to workouts, food, and training. During all phases of the cycle your body needs and reacts differently to the types of food you eat, fluids you consume, and workouts you complete.

There are better times to train with a very high intensity than others. A female’s body also has more difficulty in the nutrition department during certain time of the cycle. Knowing these things can help to add a slight edge over what you are trying to improve.


Training and the sections of a cycle

The Follicular phase (day 1-14) is the best time to push intensity. The body is primed and ready to take on work during this time. The body is also ready to absorb the food and hydration you give it to the highest level during this phase. Recognizing this can help a female athlete to time her best efforts and her most ideal time to push the intensity.

The Luteal phase (day 14-28) is the time of the cycle to back off a bit. The last 14-28 days is the time to take the effort down 10-15%. A lot of researchers suggest deloads and decreased efforts because the body has a harder time recovering during this time. Carbohydrates and hydration levels should also be increased. This will help with the body recover even with the lower blood volume and higher body temperature.

Cravings also increase during the Luteal phase. This appears to come from the decrease in the body ability to absorb nutrients. I don’t believe people have more cravings for certain foods as much as maybe just increased hunger. That increase probably enhances that sweet tooth a person already has.




Take aways…

If I’m being honest research on this was very limited. I don’t find that this is as researched as other subjects. Some athletes and coaches report zero change during a woman’s cycle where as others report so much. The main thing to take away is that a person just looking to live a long healthy life doesn’t need to worry so much about timing their workouts and nutrition around their monthly cycle.

However, a person looking to increase their performance to the highest level or compete at their best should 100% take these things into consideration. Train at the highest intensity during the follicular phase! Your body is primed and ready to take or workouts and has nothing holding it back. Pour on the volume and pour on the intensity. During the luteal phase, maybe back off a bit. Increase your carb intake and pay close attention to hydration.If you do all of these things we are talking a small percentage of change in performance and competition. However, if you are an athlete looking to perform at the highest every small percentage of change matters!

The scope of this subject has many tangents. I read through countless articles and countless studies. Some of them had completely different information. What I did with this blog was talk about the common things I found in all the research. The good thing about this subject is that although it currently isn’t widely researched it appears to be picking up some traction. More and more people are looking in to this topic. As more information becomes available to the public you better believe I am gonna learn about it!



Written by:

Cody Smith

CrossFit in Silverdale, WA