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How your menstrual cycle affects strength training.

We have 4 phases during our menstrual cycle...

• Menstrual

• Follicular

• Ovulation

• Luteal

1. Don't skip strength training in the first part of your cycle.

Several studies have looked at differences in responses to strength training in the follicular phase (the time from your period until ovulation, versus training in the luteal phase (from ovulation until your period).

Estrogen is highest in the follicular phase. This has a positive effect on mood, energy and strength. Higher levels may also help your recovery! During the first week of your period you are primed to train hard in this phase! Strength training during the follicular phase resulted in higher increases in muscle strength compared to training in the luteal phase 💪🏽🥳

If you pay attention to your cycle phases, you may find your strength training pays off the most in your follicular phase.

In simple terms: NEVER skip leg day before you ovulate! 😅

2. Watch out for tendon injuries in fertile days.

Hormonal changes may impact tendon laxity and risk of tendon injury. The risk is apparently highest in the days leading up to ovulation, when estrogen is high. The luteal phase is associated with the lowest risk. So it's best to do a longer warm-up and not overstretch during your potential fertile days.

3. Don't beat yourself up in the second part of your cycle.

In the second part of your cycle, progesterone rises significantly. Your body temperature is also higher during this phase — our  body temp shoots up by at least 0.4 °C after ovulation and stays high until menstruation. Your body is preparing for a potential pregnancy. And also yay for period sweats 🙃 you know the ones which are usually followed by cramps and cravings!

You may find that you don't have as much endurance during your luteal phase. You may not be able to hit your max lifts, and may feel worse in training compared to the first part of your cycle. Don't judge the results of your training based on your performance in this phase alone. Decreased performance is a perfectly normal in the luteal phase of your cycle.

For me, training sessions feel much more challenging and draining during this phase. So I have to remember it's normal, and I'm not just weak as  💩 when I don't hit my target lifts.

4. Be kind to yourself in the second part of your cycle.

During your menstrual cycle, you will likely feel the most tired during the luteal phase (post-ovulation) when estrogen levels drop. The corresponding rise in progesterone levels also has a depressant effect, leaving you tired and sluggish. Based on this, remember to be kind to yourself, during the luteal phase.

I personally feel exercise is a great pain relief when it comes to periods. Exercise releases those endorphins I keep banging on about, which can help ease cramps, perk up your mood and keep your head happy.

Please remember, menstrual cycles are different. What’s typical for you might not be for someone else.

Love, Coach Danni 🩷

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