Coach Caron continues to dive into the nitty-gritty of the female cycle and how it affects how ladies when training.
The Follicular Phase: Time to Make Those Gains.
The Follicular Phase starts with day 1 of your cycle. Day 1 of a woman's period and the subsequent days that follow are characterized as the low-hormone phase, with both estrogen and progesterone levels at their lowest, as well as LH and FSH. This means ironically, that when a female's period starts, her exercise physiology is most like a man’s and your hormones are most favourable for peak performance.
This low hormone phase is when women are at their strongest. Studies have shown that women make the greatest strength gains and produce more force when they strength train during this phase of their cycle. Women also tend to feel less pain and recover faster during the follicular phase.
While some key performance indicators such as VO2 max and lactate threshold remain constant throughout your cycle, reaction time, coordination and dexterity are at their peak in this low hormone phase. There is also evidence that shows that blood sugar levels, breathing rates and thermoregulation are also optimal during this phase. Women access and utilize carbohydrates better and it is easier to make muscle.
While many women dread the thought of having their periods on race day, during competitions or even test day at the gym, this is actually the time to push hard and take advantage of the favourable exercise physiology of this low hormone phase.