Your period might leave you wanting all the chocolate and none of the fitness, but hold up because it is possible to make your hormonal cycle work for your goals – not against them. And we’re going to tell you how.
Some women are incredibly sensitive to their hormonal fluctuations and PMS is an all-out nightmare. Then there are the women who can just breeze through the month without a blip on the radar. However, every healthy woman in her reproductive years should be having a regular monthly (if not near monthly) cycle.
There’s more to it than your body getting ready to conceive a child. Your entire system is altered by the changes of the waves of estrogen and progesterone each month. Some of these changes directly impact your energy levels, metabolism, and the likelihood of injury.
For simplicity, we will refer to a regular monthly cycle even though some cycles are closer to 18 days and some can be up to 40 days.
– RELATED: Your Period Doesn’t Actually Affect Your Brain –
Weeks 1 and 4
The week prior (week 4) and the week of your period (week 1) is when most women feel their worst. Your progesterone is on a come down from a big high and your serotonin levels are low.
This is when your body is actually prepared to burn more body fat and use it for fuel, especially during the “PMS week”. Your body really wants to counter this phase by causing an increase in sugar cravings. But, hold out and stick to your metaphorical macro-guns!
That drop in progesterone that happens right before you start PMSing is what’s causing you to hold on to more water and electrolytes, so the scale shoots up 3-5lbs and you feel like skipping the gym entirely. Remember, your body’s low serotonin levels are what’s causing you feel extra crummy. Get in a great workout and you’ll feel better.
Many women say that the week prior and the earlier part of mensuration is when they feel the weakest in the gym. If you’re among that crowd, alter your workouts and focus on more cardio-based exercises by dropping rest times lower and aiming for a really great burn in your muscles. Once that time passes, strength levels return – potentially in a big way.
Weeks 2 and 3
The two weeks or so after you finish your period, your body starts ramping back up again and this is the time you’re ready to kill it in the gym.
Your body produces a huge surge of estrogen right before the halfway mark in your cycle as it prepares for ovulation. Estrogen has been shown to actually boost endurance and performance and you also get two hormonal bumps – right before day 14 of your cycle and a smaller bump right around day 21.
So, as much as your body is set on beast mode, one thing to consider is that joint laxity is negatively affected by estrogen, you’re actually at a higher likelihood of injury.
To counter this, take extra time priming your joints with proper warm-up exercises and sets before going hard on your plyos and lifts.
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