The female cycle should be incorporated into individual training planning. Even though the study situation is relatively poor, there are clear influences on regeneration and training processes. Above all, the communication between trainer and athlete is important.
The study situation on the subject is still very weak. Only a few data are available in sufficient numbers and quality. Physiological parameters, such as the oxygen uptake (VO2max) and also the lactate formation and degradation rates do not seem to change over the cycle. The same applies to the mass of the red blood cells, the heart rate and also to the parameters of ventilation3. However, there is strong evidence that there are differences especially in hot and dry conditions. In the luteal phase the stamina in competitions is reduced. The combination of heat, stress, strain and luteal phase seems to result in an overload of the system4.
Match the training process with your athletes!
Especially in women's sports, the communication between coach and athlete must be very good and intense. It is particularly important to be able to assess how an athlete feels. Intensive training and large volumes may need to be postponed and the training content also be adapted to the sensitivities. Too much euphoria in tuning the cycle phases and the training content would be premature, but depending on the sport, there could be undreamt-of power reserves here. Just the ability to regenerate is an important key in tuning the training content and exercises.
For the future, it is desirable that the data on the subject of training and menstruation further strengthened. Basically, it should be noted that women and young girls can and should also train during the menstrual period. Especially in school sports, the physical complaints associated with the rule should not lead to an exemption from physical education. Pain in the abdomen and headache can be acutely affected by the administration of ibuprofen or adequate means. Sport and physical activity tend to have a positive effect on the symptoms and, above all, cramps can be influenced by endurance training. For targeted training, you should make sure that you write down the subjective condition and watch performance fluctuations with your cycle calendar. As a coach you should always take into consideration the privacy of your athletes. If, on the other hand, you are an athlete, one of the most important thing is that you listen to your body. Even if the data is still quite thin, we recommend such an attempt. For example, if you have difficulty in performing intensive training sessions in the luteal phase anyway, training for maximum strength or intensive intervals may be replaced with moderate training. Here are no limits to your creative fantasies. Just try it.
- Keep a cycle calendar
- Match your subjective state of health with the phases of your cycle
- If possible, do not give intensive training or during the menstrual phase
- In school and club sports, menstruation is no reason to abstain from sports. Ultimately, however, this topic also shows the importance of communication between athletes and their trainers. Basically, problems such as pain and premenstrual syndrome can have an impact on the quality of the planned workouts. On the other hand, the hormonal feedbacks and effects on the training content and the training goals should be considered. Although evidence-based statements and recommendations are currently impossible, you should be sensitive to the topic. Ultimately, as is often the case, "victory on the pitch" takes place and therefore listening to female athletes is at least as important as the sports science training impact analysis.
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1) German Journal of Sports Medicine, 2003, vol. 54 (7 & 8), p. 26.
2) Reis, E. (1996). Menstrual cycle-controlled strength training. Schorndorf: Hoffmann.
3) Sports Med. 2003, Vol. 33 (11), pp. 833-851.
4) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012, Vol. 44, (11), pp. 2190-2198.