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Harnessing the Power of Hormones

As women, our menstrual cycle has the ability to shift our energy and our usual daily rhythm and yet so may of us overlook the profound impact hormonal fluctuations can have on our day-to-day activities, including our fitness routines. Understanding what affect our hormones have on us at which points throughout our cycle means we can have a better understanding of what our bodies actually need.

The menstrual cycle itself is divided into four phases: menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal and each phase is characterised by distinct hormonal shifts, which consequently direct our energy levels, mood, and physical performance.

Menstruation (Days 1-5): Here you'll see estrogen and progesterone levels drop and this is where women usually find they have lower energy levels and possibly higher fatigue. Scaling things back slightly here might help! That doesn't mean necessarily sitting back and doing nothing but easing off slightly, reducing the intensity and lightening the load (physically and mentally) might make this phase a little more manageble.

Follicular Phase (Days 6-14): This is where our estrogen levels begin to rise which should translate to an increase in energy and stamina. Increasing the intensity of your workouts, and clocking in some extra movement here should leave you feeling challenged and energised.

Ovulation (Day 14): This is where estrogen levels peak. You'll likely find you're 'ontop of the world' here and simply unstoppable. Your output and your intensity here will be at peak so if there's a day where you're looking to really push your boundaries, this is the one!!

Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): Here is where estrogen levels start to decline. Progesterone also rises and as a result of the two it's common for women to start to notice decreased energy and increased fatigue here. Again here you might find that your energy levels or fatigue levels start to dip so listen to your body and where you need to just tame things back slightly.

If you're not really sure where to start or how to manage your output throughout your cycle then here's where we'd suggest starting:

Keep a Cycle log: Track your menstrual cycle and record how you feel during each phase. Although there's a general theme to hormonal shifts and subsequent energy levels it might be that your symptoms look a little different. Pay attention to changes in your energy levels, mood, and physical performance. This will help you identify patterns and adjust your own personal training accordingly.

Modify Intensity: Adjust the intensity of your output based on where you are in your cycle. Embrace higher intensity sessions during the follicular and ovulation phases when energy levels are high, and reduce the load during the menstruation and the luteal phase, as and where you need to.

Allow Yourself Adequate Recovery: Incorporate rest days and active recovery days into your training schedule, especially during the luteal phase. Allow yourself to rest where you need it and use your cycle log to manage your output in line with your needs.

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