Female Training - How To Optimise Exercise With Your Cycle
If you’re female looking to lose weight you need to read this
Have you ever looked at your husband, boyfriend, brother, father, and wondered why they seem to lose body fat so much faster than you. Meanwhile, your feeling that you've done everything you possibly can to lose weight and it seems to be taking forever to see any kind of results?
Through training my female clients I've noticed a few things that have made me want to get a better understanding of how I could train my female clients better and get them the results they deserve!
When it comes to fitness PT’s they have a habit of looking at their female clients as smaller versions of their male clients and think the same protocols work for women as they do for men. This is incorrect and I’m going to try to explain this further in this blog.
First Of All....
Men are generally bigger than women as they naturally carry more muscle. As a result, Men have the ability to burn calories faster, roughly 33% faster than women.
So, A Real-Life Example:
If a male and female were on a bike with a goal to burns 100 calories, it would take the female 33% longer to reach that goal!!
Furthermore, women carry additional body fat, as naturally the female form is designed to carry a baby through pregnancy.
This becomes apparent when some women diet intensely to the point of a severely low level of body fat. In these cases their bodies respond by no longer creating the environment for pregnancy and the female, in this case, will no longer have a period. (Your body does not know you’re trying to get lean and assumes you just have limited access to food)
So, The First Takeaway Point
- The female body will take a bit longer to see progress.
- The female body does not want to go to an extremely low level of body fat as it does not coincide with Nature.
(It’s ok to pinch an inch, without that inch the world would probably fall apart)
The Menstrual Cycle - The Role It Plays On Fat Loss
The next big thing to address is your menstrual cycle. There are multiple ways this impacts fat loss.
In the above graph;
The menstrual cycle is broken into 2 sperate phases,
The Follicular Phase & the Luteal Phase
The Blue Line represents Progesterone
The Purple Line represents Oestrogen
The Follicular Phase
This is the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (weeks 1-2). This phase is associated with;
- Strength returns to normal
- Improved hunger control
- Improved Performance
The Luteal Phase
This is the second two weeks of your menstrual cycle (weeks 2-4). This phase is associated with;
- High Injury Rate
- Decreased Strength
- Decreased Motivation
- Metabolic Increase of anywhere between 100-300 cals per day
What can you take away from this information?
If you’re starting a diet it might be a bad idea to start a diet in the Luteal Phase. There is an increased chance of not sticking to the diet due to an increase in appetite and cravings.
It would be better to wait until you Follicular Phase when there is more control over hunger, motivation and strength levels high.
As your body goes through so many changes during those 4 weeks it would also make sense to NOT compare progress from week to week because in 7 days your body could change so much due to your cycle.
Compare Your Week 1 With Week 1
Instead, think about comparing week 1 of your cycle against week 1 of your next cycle. This will do loads for your motivation levels and give you a much more accurate indicator of your progress.
If you suffer badly during the Luteal Phase with cravings and feel like it’s day after day of binging, programming in 3 additional pieces of fruit per day could help counteract this.
It is also worthwhile thinking about dieting for the first 2 weeks of your cycle & then in the latter 2 weeks returning to maintenance calories.
2 weeks of making progress followed by 2 weeks of maintaining results is much better than 2 weeks of progress followed by 2 weeks of completely undoing that progress by binging.
(It’s like taking 1 step forward & 2 steps backwards.)
When It Come To Training....
Finally regarding training, it might be a good idea to ease off intense, heavy training in the Luteal Phase because in the Luteal Phase you will see a decrease in strength, energy & motivation.
This is why one week you might bang out 10 reps of a back squat at 80kg & the next week you’re struggling with an empty bar.
In the Luteal Phase sticking to machines and some easy cardio e.g. Walking, light jogging might serve you better than trying to PB your back squat followed by a high-intensity workout.
I’m Finishing This blog Off With A Little Vent On My Behalf;
Don’t allow somebody posting pictures of their abs on Instagram or selling you some fat loss miracle to trick you into buying some useless supplement you don’t need.
You might tell yourself it is a form of motivation looking at her pictures but I can promise you it is serving more as a demotivator. Unfollow and focus on your own goals.
I really hope you leave this blog feeling more informed about why fat loss can be much harder for women. I also hope you feel more empowered about how you can set yourself up for success.