Training for women & how your menstrual cycle can influence all things fitness.

This is one of the most important yet over-looked subjects I’ll ever do a blog on. Training, weight loss and nutrition is more complicated and therefore difficult for women than it is for men. Here’s why and ladies please please please read this as it might answer/solve a few things you’ve been struggling with whatever your fitness and weight goals are…..

Ok so firstly usually women burn less calories than men when they exercise, simply down to the fact they often have less muscle mass. So if you compare your weight loss or body fat levels to your boyfriend, husband or male friend/family - stop it - you’d have to exercise for longer or more often to achieve the same as them. For every 2lbs they lose on the scales you might only lose 1 so don’t compete with anyone but yourself.

Now this bit is very important but when you think about it quite obvious… between starting your menstrual cycle and menopause what is the female species theoretically here on this planet to do? Carry a child and give birth to the next generation. This means the female body is supposed to hold more fat and thus energy as at any point it could be needed to provide for more than just you.

Maybe you shouldn’t be expecting to reach the very low body fat levels some men can … it would usually mean you actually lose your menstrual cycle, is that a good thing … not really, is that healthy … no, is this normal/natural … not at all. The point being… the female body is supposed to carry a little more fat than the male one and it’s completely normal and natural to do so. Take this on board ladies when it comes to your goals, should you be comparing yourself or trying to look like these Instagram female fitness models/influencers… NO WAY, here’s why, they are almost always falsely advertising their body, whether that’s with picture editing, angling their body to give illusion to body shape and believe it or not many are taking anabolic steroids to allow them to get unnatural physiques. It’s incredibly important for your motivation that you make your goal achievable and realistic, these models are usually neither, they are simply trying to sell you something.

Finally the science bit, this will shock a few of you but hopefully help you understand a few things. There is usually around 4 weeks in a ladies menstrual cycle, towards the end of the 2nd week a ladies performance in the gym will often be at its peak, this is down to the change in hormone levels throughout the 4 week cycle. The hormones build throughout the 1st week and 2nd week peaking at the end of that week meaning strength and performance also peaks. The problem is the 3rd and 4th week see a decrease in hormones and performance, which means you need to take this into account and not get frustrated with yourself or your training if you are struggling through the final two weeks of your cycle. You are not failing you are just following your body’s natural capabilities at that time.

It’s also important to remember that the final two weeks of your cycle aren’t just difficult for your body but also your mind, therefore you will notice it’s harder to motivate yourself to get in the gym and the big one….. to keep your nutrition and calorie intake where you need it to be for fat loss. Basically you’ll want to train less and eat more haha. Again this is totally normal and natural so the best thing to do in my opinion is really focus on the first 2 weeks of your cycle when you are stronger and more motivated, simply train hard, keep yourself in a calorie deficit so you lose fat and push your body to its limit in that period. In the 2nd two weeks if/when you are struggling and more likely to binge eat etc try train as often as you can but make the sessions more manageable and easier for your mind to accept and most importantly for your calorie intake. In the 2nd 2 weeks eat more for maintenance not deficit, so allow yourself some more calories each day … not loads more ladies haha but maybe an extra 200 per day, this will also help keep up your energy levels for the difficult 2 week part of the cycle. Doing this will hopefully allow you to keep up your attendance in the gym and nutritionally stop you from binge eating which obviously doesn’t do your fat loss goals any good.

Hope this helps a few of our lovely lady members ?
Curt