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Women’s Training and Body Composition: Maximising Performance Through Your Menstrual Cycle

At Boxclass, we understand the unique challenges women face when it comes to training and maintaining optimal body composition. Coach Aaron shares insights on how to tailor your training and nutrition throughout your menstrual cycle to achieve peak performance and health.

Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

Your menstrual cycle isn’t just a monthly occurrence—it’s a powerful guide that can inform how you train and what you eat. The cycle is typically divided into four phases:

1. Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5):

   – What’s happening: The uterine lining sheds, and hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) are at their lowest.

   – Training Tips: Focus on low-intensity activities like light cardio, yoga, or gentle circuit training. Listen to your body and prioritize rest if needed.

   – Nutrition Tips: Eat iron-rich foods (spinach, red meat) to replenish lost iron and stay hydrated.

2. Follicular Phase (Days 6-14):

   – What’s happening: Estrogen levels rise, preparing your body for ovulation.

   – Training Tips: This is the time to ramp up the intensity. Your energy levels are higher, so focus on strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and boxing. Aim to push your limits and build muscle.

   – Nutrition Tips: Increase protein intake to support muscle growth. Include complex carbs (quinoa, sweet potatoes) for sustained energy.

3. Ovulatory Phase (Day 14):

   – What’s happening: Estrogen peaks, and an egg is released.

   – Training Tips: You’re likely to feel strong and energetic. Continue with high-intensity workouts, boxing drills, and strength training.

   – Nutrition Tips: Maintain a balanced diet with a mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated to support your workouts.

4. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28):

   – What’s happening: Progesterone rises, and your body prepares for a potential pregnancy.

   – Training Tips: As your energy levels fluctuate, adjust your workout intensity. Incorporate moderate-intensity workouts, focusing on endurance and flexibility. Listen to your body and don’t hesitate to scale back if you feel fatigued.

   – Nutrition Tips: Opt for magnesium-rich foods (nuts, leafy greens) to reduce bloating and mood swings. Keep your meals balanced and avoid excessive sugar and caffeine.

The Benefits of Weight Training, Boxing, and Circuit Training

Weight Training:

   – Builds Muscle and Strength: Helps in increasing muscle mass, boosting metabolism, and enhancing overall strength.

   – Improves Bone Density: Crucial for women, particularly as they age, to prevent osteoporosis.

   – Enhances Body Composition: Reduces body fat percentage and sculpts a leaner physique.

Boxing:

   – Cardiovascular Health: Improves heart health and endurance.

   – Full-Body Workout: Engages multiple muscle groups, enhancing strength, speed, and agility.

   – Stress Relief: Provides a powerful outlet for stress, improving mental well-being.

Circuit Training or Metcon:

   – Efficient Workouts: Combines strength and cardio, maximizing calorie burn in a shorter time.

   – Versatile and Fun: Keeps workouts varied and engaging, preventing boredom.

   – Boosts Metabolism: The combination of different exercises keeps your metabolism elevated even after the workout.

The Importance of Progressive Overload in Weight Training

One of the key principles of effective weight training is progressive overload. This involves gradually increasing the amount of stress placed on your muscles during training to stimulate growth and strength gains. Here’s why it’s crucial:

– Muscle Growth: To build muscle, your muscles need to be challenged beyond their current capacity. By progressively increasing the weight or resistance, you force your muscles to adapt and grow.

– Strength Gains: Consistently challenging your muscles with heavier weights or more resistance helps to improve your overall strength, enabling you to lift more over time.

– Enhanced Metabolism: Increased muscle mass leads to a higher resting metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories even when you’re not working out.

– Prevents Plateaus: Regularly increasing the intensity of your workouts helps to prevent fitness plateaus, keeping your progress steady and continuous.

Adjusting Intensity Levels Week by Week

Coach Aaron emphasizes the importance of aligning your training intensity with your menstrual cycle. Here’s a weekly breakdown:

– Week 1 (Menstrual Phase): Low-intensity workouts, focusing on recovery and gentle movement.

– Week 2 (Follicular Phase): Increase intensity with strength training and high-energy boxing sessions. Implement progressive overload by adding weights or increasing resistance.

– Week 3 (Ovulatory Phase): Maintain high-intensity workouts, taking advantage of peak energy levels. Continue to challenge your muscles with heavier weights.

– Week 4 (Luteal Phase): Gradually reduce intensity, incorporating moderate workouts and prioritizing flexibility and endurance. Allow your body to recover while maintaining a moderate level of resistance training.

By understanding and respecting your body’s natural rhythms, you can optimize your training and nutrition, leading to improved performance, better body composition, and overall well-being. At Boxclass, we’re here to support you every step of the way, helping you achieve your fitness goals with a personalized approach.

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