Your Periods And Your Workouts
Become menstrual cycle-savvy (and keep your training regime on track!)
No woman is immune from the monthly monster that is PMS – mood swings, food cravings, water retention, bloating and fluctuating energy levels… you name it, if it’s a nuisance then mother nature is guaranteed to deliver a fat dose of it once a month.
No women feel the effects of PMS more than bodybuilders, whose training regimes can be turned upside down if they don’t have the energy or inclination to get down to the gym.
What’s more, many women also find it a real struggle to reach the same productivity and performance levels as usual when they are menstruating.
Do Not Worry
But all is not lost – by pinpointing the areas where your cycle tends to worse impact your training habits, it’s easier to keep them under control. Here are some handy pointers to help you regain control:
If you’re sticking to a healthy eating and exercise regime, you’ll probably be painfully aware of how your metabolism varies from day to day.
What you might not know, however, is that in the week or so before your period begins (known as the luteal phase) a woman’s body burns more fat than at any other time. Cravings for no-go foods, however, are likely to be higher too, so don’t let any temptation undo all your hard work.
AppetiteKnowing that the appetite tends to spikes in this week makes it easier to plan your eating and ensure that you don’t let your cycle get the better of you.
Many female bodybuilders lower their calorie intake in the two weeks preceding the week before their period – this enables you to cater for your appetite and move back up to a normal calorie intake the week before and during your period when the appetite is bigger.
It’s important to listen to what your body wants, and if you’re in this period and your body needs energy, be sure to feed it. If you’re on a strict diet and exercise plan and need to take some time out, the luteal phase is probably the best time to do it.
The vast majority of women will also experience some degree of water retention during their menstrual cycle, which is pretty much the last thing any bodybuilder needs.
Be savvy, however, and you can limit the temporary pound piling that water retention can cause. Avoiding salty food, seasoning food with oregano, drinking herbal tea and – ironically – drinking more water can all help battle the bloat.
When it comes to working out during your menstrual cycle, there are a couple of things to bear in mind.
Firstly, the body’s temperature rises in the week before your period, so it’s more likely you’ll become uncomfortably hot and find it more difficult to maintain high intensity activity.
Not only this, but water retention will add to your body’s weight and make it feel like you’re working harder than usual.
It’s not all bad news, though – the body’s tolerance to pain tends to be higher after menstruation, so your best placed to plan your most challenging workouts for this time as chances are you’ll be able to power through them….