Performance during the different phases of the menstrual cycle
The follicular phase
During the follicular phase, women may have a higher pain tolerance and feel energetic, especially during the early part of the phase. This can be a favorable time for intense training and high-intensity activities. Research has also shown that weight training may be more effective during the latter part of the follicular phase due to the higher estrogen levels.
It may also be beneficial for female endurance athletes to increase their carbohydrate intake during this phase to improve muscle glycogen storage. This can be achieved by carbohydrate loading the day before or during intense training sessions or competitions.
The ovulation phase
The ovulation phase can be a period when women experience increased strength and performance. Studies have shown that there are significant increases in quadriceps strength during this phase compared to the follicular and luteal phases. This can be a favorable time to challenge yourself and set personal records in training.
It has also been reported that there may be a slightly higher risk of injury during the ovulation phase, so it is important to be aware of this and be careful when exercising.
The luteal phase
The luteal phase can be a period when women feel less energetic and find it more difficult to perform high-intensity exercise. It can also be a time when premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects training and performance, around 7-10 days before menstruation.
Body weight may also increase slightly due to fluid retention during this phase. It has previously been hypothesized that exercise in hot weather may be more challenging during this phase due to elevated respiratory rate and body temperature. However, new research shows that this phenomenon does not necessarily affect performance.
Contraceptive effects on menstrual cycle and performance
Hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, can affect the menstrual cycle by reducing the natural production of estrogen and progesterone. Women using hormonal contraceptives are in a constant low-hormone phase, which can affect their menstrual cycle and hormonal fluctuations.
However, research on the effects of hormonal contraceptives on training and performance is not clear-cut. Some studies have shown that hormonal contraceptives have no significant effect on performance, while other studies have reported some negative side effects that can affect performance, such as weight gain and irregular menstrual cycles.
It is important to remember that all women are different and may react differently to hormonal changes and contraceptives. If you are using hormonal birth control and notice any changes in your menstrual cycle or performance, you should consult with your doctor or health care professional to discuss your options.
Adapt training according to hormonal changes
The menstrual cycle is a natural process that affects women's bodies and hormones. By understanding the different phases of the menstrual cycle and their impact on hormonal changes and health, you can adjust your training and optimize your performance. It is important to be aware of the individual differences and to listen to your body to achieve the best results.Here you can read more about the phases of the menstrual cycle and how these affect your hormones.