Should you exercise when you have your period?
Yes there is no good reason not too
How should you train when you have your period?
Download the Fitrwomen app in the google play store – A fabulous free tool to help you track everything and gives you a really clear understanding of what’s happening.
Will having my period effect my energy or strength during a session?
Most studies find that a regularly menstruating female athlete who competes in strength specific sports and or intense cardio based sports does not need to adjust for her menstrual phase to maximise performance….
That’s what the research shows, that having your period shouldn’t affect your training, strength or power output
But I dunno about that….
I have exercised and trained for a variety of sports all my life and my personal experience is having my period effects my performance for sure.
At different phases of my cycle I notice a change in my sense of fatigue, recovery and performance
But wait a second,
In 2018 I competed at the Arnold Classic Australia in Strongwomen and it was the second day of my period and I can say that on this day it had absolutely no effect on my performance because I crushed it.
Being around women in strength sports for this long and talking with the incredible women and strength coaches I have meet along the way. The answer is it depends.
Some women perform better during their period
Some women are not affected at all
Some women feel sub-par during their period
And I suppose it also depend on if its training or competing – which is where the mental side of performance show its face.
When I compete, I just see red really and go for it
Training on the other hand is a different story – Your managing niggles, injuries, fatigue, life, work, kids and then hormones
I have had training sessions that feel a bit blah… but that can be for a multitude of reasons
Stress, hydration, quality of the athlete’s nutrition or sleep
Programming overload OR Central nervous system fatigue
Not every session need to be your best either… just saying
What are the phases of your cycle and how they affect your training and nutrition?
Menstrual Cycle Phases
Phase 1: The first to last day of your period
Phase 2: From the end of your period until just before ovulation – days 6-14
Phase 3: From ovulation until your hormones start to drop, usually lasts 9 days – 15-23
Phase 4: The days just before your period 24-28
Phase 1: Estrogen and Progesterone levels are at their lowest during your period
Phase 2: Estrogen is rising to peak just before ovulation (day 14), progesterone is very low
Phase 3: Estrogen starts to drop as ovulation occurs, then both estrogen and progesterone start to rise and remain high
Phase 4: Estrogen and Progesterone levels decline to their lowest point
What does this mean for training?
Day 1-14 after your period – Train hard and eat carbs. Of course, eat well, a higher tolerance to pain go get laser or waxing done during this phase! Friendly note
Day 14 – Potentially at your strongest – Hit a PB
Day 14-28 – Recovery/ use some heavy and light sessions mix in active recovery
What does this mean for nutrition?
Day 1-14 – Your body will be more prone to using carbs to fuel training
Day 14-28 – Your body will rely more on fat as a fuel source…
Friendly note – Day 14-28 is where we crave the carbs though rite – PMS Chocolate cravings, packs of tim tams getting smashed…During days 14-28 serotonin or the happy chemical is at it’s lowest… help boost your bodies natural serotonin level through eating more tryptophan an amino acid (protein) which comes from foods like eggs spinach sesame seeds salmon and getting some sunlight if your can
Follicular Phase – First 14 days after your period. Egg matures during this phase and is ready to be released
Ovulation – Day 14 – Egg releases from ovaries
Luteal Phase – Day 14 – 28 – Lining of uterus normally thickens for possible pregnancy
What is estrogen – The ovaries release estrogen. Estrogen suddenly rises half way through your cycle (day 14) to trigger release of an egg
What is progesterone – Another hormone that assists both estrogen and testosterone, in the female body it assists in the regulation of the lining of the uterus. It is produced in the adrenal glands and ovaries.