How the Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Scale Weight and The Gym

The menstrual cycle and the gym

Blogging about this topic does fill me with some fear that I will come across like a Mansplaining idiot! If I am honest, it has sat as a unpublished “draft” for ages due to this, but this has come up three times this week with female clients, so here goes…

It is important as a coach that I understand all aspects of my client’s health, bodies and other factors that come into play for them in their daily lives. Just one of these aspects is the menstrual cycle. These descriptions provide a general idea of what might be experienced during each phase, though individual experiences and timings can vary obviously.

The Menstrual Cycle and Strength Training in the Gym:

Ever felt a surge of energy during one gym session and then struggled to lift the same weights the following week? Your menstrual cycle might be a factor.

a) Menstrual Phase (About Days 1-5): During this phase when you get your period, you might find your energy levels or strength are lower than normal, especially during the first couple of days. It’s perfectly alright to opt for lighter exercises or even rest if your body demands it.

b) Follicular Phase (About Days 1-13) : As you wave goodbye to your period, this phase heralds a period of rising energy and strength. It’s an opportune time to challenge yourself with more demanding strength training routines. Your muscles are also more inclined to grow during this window, so it’s worth pushing a little harder.

c) Ovulatory Phase (About Days 14-17): This might be when you feel at your strongest, thanks to a peak in estrogen levels. However, a word of caution: the same hormone surge can make your joints slightly more flexible, increasing the risk of potential injuries. So, even if you’re lifting heavy, ensure your form is impeccable and warm-up well before lifting (as you should be anyway!).

d) Luteal Phase (About Days 18-28): The early days can still be conducive to training, but as this phase advances, you may notice your energy waning. If you’re feeling a notable drop in stamina, consider scaling back.

The Menstrual Cycle and Scale Weight:

Here are the key stages of the menstrual cycle and what they mean for your scale weight:

a) Menstrual Phase (About Days 1-5): This is when you start your period. In the early days of this phase, you may notice your weight decreasing after it possibly went up in the days just before your period began. This change is due to your body releasing the water it held onto.

b) Follicular Phase (About Days 1-13): As your period winds down and this phase moves forward, you’ll likely feel lighter and more energetic. Again, your water retention goes down, leading to another potential drop on the scales.

c) Ovulatory Phase (About Days 14-17): Ovulation could cause a minor weight increase because of a rise in the hormone estrogen. But it’s essential to note that these changes are minimal and fleeting.

d) Luteal Phase (About Days 18-28): This is the phase that might make you feel a bit bloated or puffy. Water retention is highest due to hormonal shifts, which can again result in a weight increase. Plus, cravings might kick in, which, if indulged, could add a bit more to the scales.

The menstrual cycle’s influence on scale weight can be profound for some, but it of course varies. Recognising these fluctuations can offer peace of mind when on a weight loss journey, ensuring you understand they’re a regular part of the monthly cycle and not a reflection of your dietary or fitness endeavours.

One thing I would say is, whilst the above can be “typical”, every client is different so not all of the above may apply to you or apply to some of my female clients. When working out for example, just listen to your body and do what works for you.

Being aware of these shifts as a coach allows me to adapt and ensure we are working in harmony with your body.

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