By Whitney Dunn, Rhapsody Coach at Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston, SC
My feelings were on the outside when I stepped on to the floor. The workout was a 50-calorie buy-in on the bike followed by an 8-minute EMOM alternating from handstand holds to a pull-up/muscle-up progression. Not for the faint of heart, but also not out of my wheelhouse.
3-2-1-GO! Calories? Pedaling purgatory. Pull-ups? All panic, no disco. Muscle-ups? Cry me a river. A workout that should have been smooth sailing left me a shell of my former self, which made no sense until I remembered…I was about to start my period.
Often trivialized or dismissed, menstrual cycle matters in a real way when it comes to training. All those hormones ebbing and flowing can affect everything from our metabolism to mood, which influences whether we slay the day or slog and struggle through a workout that should be our jam.
So let’s break down the phases of your 28-day menstrual cycle week by week and look into how each may impact your training.
WEEK 1 (DAY 1 TO ~3-6)
You’re in it now, girl. Flo is here and you are her hostage. Marked by the shed of uterine lining, or what is better known as a period, this menstrual phase has us maxed and taxed both physically and mentally. Resistance is futile.
This is the week to practice patience and prioritize recovery. Your body is working hard and she kindly requests you chill out. Keep moving with aerobic work, scale when needed, and, ultimately, give yourself grace.
WEEK 2 (END OF PERIOD TO ~12)
The start of your follicular phase, think of this week as the ramp up. With your estrogen levels steadily increasing, your metabolism slows allowing your body to process nutrients more effectively and, therefore, perform better based on your intake.
This week is a good one for turning up the dial on intensity and volume – push a little harder, go a little heavier. Your body is gearing up for her peak performance.
WEEK 3 (DAY ~13 TO 16)
Hello, ovulation! You are all systems go with estrogen and progesterone levels climbing to their highest points. Not only will you likely feel prime physically, but this phase is also hallmarked by mental clarity and enhanced emotional energy.
Get after it, mama! These precious days are gold for channeling your inner Shebeast – challenge that edge and go after that personal record.
WEEK 4 (DAY ~17 TO 28)
Enter the luteal phase, or, as I like to think of it, the descent. As your hormone levels start to drop, your body may feel like she’s starting to drag, not moving quite as smooth, and wants to taper off. Try not to fight her.
If you’re like me, the end of this week ushers in the clumsies and crankies, which make it a great opportunity to focus on those metcons or tackle more aerobic work. You may also want to consider scaling weight and volume – go by feel, not pride.
Ladies, when it comes to training your menstrual cycle matters. Period. Pun intended. Tracking your cycle can help you better understand when your body is primed for peak performance or needs you to lighten the load.
Tune in and listen, she’s telling you everything you need to know.
To learn more about how Rhapsody Fitness can help you be a Shebeast, check out our range of programs and get in touch with Team Rhapsody today.