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  • Writer's pictureBarbara

How your menstrual cycle affects your training

If you start doing (strength) training as a woman, you will soon discover that most of the information you can find about building a good training session is focussed on men. Because there are simply many physiological differences between men and women, it is also useful to tailor your training to your own female body. With a little knowledge of the influence of your menstrual cycle on your performance possibilities during training, there is already a lot to be gained!

Estrogen and progesterone are the two main characters in the menstrual cycle

Estrogen is an anabolic hormone, which means that it takes care of the 'constructive' processes.

Think of:

  • Support muscle recovery

  • Prevent muscle loss

  • Reduces belly fat storage

  • Protects joints, bones and tendons

  • Increases your metabolism

  • Promotes glucose uptake in type 1 muscle fibers.

Surprising right? Estrogen is often seen as the main culprit of all kinds of ailments, but many studies have now shown that estrogen is 'anabolic' and actually supports the constructive processes.

Progesterone is then responsible for some adverse effects for muscle building.

Think of:

  • Counteracting the Positive Effects of Estrogen

  • Promote protein breakdown

  • Seems to have an inhibitory effect on the proper control of the muscles

  • Competing with testosterone, blocking testosterone building properties.

In short; Estrogen helps the progression in the workouts, and progesterone counteracts that. With knowledge about your cycle and the changing hormone balances during your cycle, you can benefit. You can adjust your training accordingly for each cycle phase.

Phases in the menstrual cycle

There are two distinct phases in the full menstrual cycle that are important here.

The follicular phase and the luteal phase.

The follicular phase is the period from menstrual bleeding ('day 1') to ovulation, and the luteal phase is from ovulation to the last day of the cycle.

In the follicular phase estrogen (or estradiol) predominates, in the luteal phase progesterone.

With what you already know about the helping function of estrogen and the inhibitory function of progesterone, you can now immediately see in which phase of your cycle your workouts are most effective.

There are even studies that say there was 20% less muscle gain and strength built up in the test group that trained heavily in the luteal phase, compared to the test group that trained heavily during the follicular phase.

In summary

With the knowledge about the phases of your cycle and the impact of the hormone changes on your result; you can (possibly with the help of your personal trainer) draw up a training schedule that fits perfectly so that you can train as effectively as possible.

In this article we have focused on the menstrual cycle, but it can of course just as well be that you are pregnant, or have just given birth and you have (temporarily) no menstrual cycle at all. Do you want to know more about training during your pregnancy or training after giving birth; feel free to contact us! Our certified trainers are not only very experienced, but also experienced experts: For Women, by Women!


Do you want the best possible workout that is tailored to your body and your goals? Our trainers are specially trained for this and come to you when it suits you. This can be done at home, or on location outside, such as during your lunch break at the office or in a park nearby. Our trainers are certified, speak English and Dutch. And especially for women we have ‘Ladies Only’. Sports coaching for women, by women. Also for guidance during pregnancy or after childbirth.

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