How to adapt your training around menstruation

Is it possible to align your workouts and diet with your monthly cycle? Yes, is the short answer, and the performance benefits are myriad. Dr Ajai Seth explains…

Tracking your menstrual cycle will help make you aware of the different stages you're at, so you can tailor your workouts and diet accordingly to maximise your performance gains

In order to align your workouts and diet with your monthly cycle, it’s important to track your cycle so you’re aware of the different stages you’re at each point of the month – this will help you tailor your routine to suit the changes in your body.

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Progesterone and oestrogen levels will be at their lowest during the start of your cycle, and can cause low energy and mood fluctuations. However, it’s been proven that the body adapts and responds much better to strength training at this stage of your cycle compared to the latter stages. Therefore, this can be a good time to incorporate strength exercises, such as weight training, into your routine.

There’s a surge in oestrogen and testosterone levels around the time of ovulation – which usually starts around day 14. The change in hormone levels at the stage can be a good time to implement higher training intensity and volume into your exercise regime.

The final 14 days of the cycle sees progesterone levels rising, which can lower your mood. By exercising at a lower intensity during this time, women can boost serotonin and endorphin levels to alleviate these symptoms.

Keep a balanced diet

When it comes to adapting your diet to align with your menstrual cycle, it’s very individualised. However, as always keeping a balanced diet while matching calorie intake to exercise volume and intensity will ensure you’re feeling energised throughout your cycle.

As for the benefits, hormonal fluctuations during your menstrual cycle can have a positive impact on your energy levels and performance. The release of endorphin and serotonin associated with exercise has an antidepressant and mood-elevating effect, which can also help women through symptoms related to the menstrual cycle, such as a low mood. In addition to this, these hormones can also help alleviate cramps and bloating, which is associated with the menstrual cycle.

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