Fitness For Females
Updated: Feb 3
Let's discuss fitness in females. If you're a fitness junkie and love a good workout routine and you also love to build a massive sweat, there's a few things we need to remember before we put our body into that amount of stress. Let's stay educated together ladies so we can look after our amazing bodies and continue to be weapons!
I've realised that a lot of women of our current society aren't as educated as we would like to be when it comes to our own physiology and its purpose as well as how we differ from men when it comes to training and our responses to training.
Here, I'd love to discuss more around the female body and what the effects can be when training. There are a few basic facts that a lot of us haven't been educated in when it comes to training on our menstrual cycle, and how our bodies are different compared to mens (not in the obvious ways).
We all know that the female body is primarily responsible for the human race. Our bodies are incredible and they will naturally keep preparing a safe environment for pregnancy. In structure, naturally, females store more fat than men. I remember getting so frustrated with my brother because he could eat whatever he wanted and not gain a fraction of chub, whereas when I ate similar to him, I could swear I watched my love handles grow with each mouthful! Female bodies burn calories a lot slower than males. But this isn't a bad thing girls! Our bodies will do anything and everything it can to continue to create a safe environment for a fetus. If our body feels under attack, this could be due to stress, you may find that some of us gain weight. In other cases, some may lose weight and create an unhealthy environment for a fetus, then that's when signals are given which will occasionally discontinue our period if the body thinks it's best to do so. We naturally try to avoid this state of stress so let your body do its thing. Everything about your body is organic and will have a natural response to what you chose to do with it. So think wisely and don't be ashamed when you have a little extra curve, that's what makes us sexy and that's how our body shows it loves us, so we must show that love in return!
Amenorrhea - a risk to our health
If you haven't heard of Amenorrhea, this is the loss of our period.
Like I mentioned earlier, our bodies are designed to reproduce and create a safe environment for a fetus and by doing this, we require a higher body fat percentage then males. So when women go under a certain body fat count, we may find that we lose our period. I can speak on behalf as an example, as this has happened to me.
When I was studying as well as working in the gym, I was under a bit of stress and would do a crazy sweaty workout as my relief or reward. I was also teaching high intensity aerobic classes at this time and I was definitely putting my body under crazy amounts of stress and without even noticing, I had lost fat that caused me to also lose my period. It took me a solid year of slowing things down, changing diet and decreasing my workout days but we got there in the end, by actually listening to my body's signals and queues.
Our bodies are so amazing, they literally give us a physical signal of indication for our health! How crazy is that! Having a steady cycle is something to be blessed by and even though we dread having this, it's the best way of our body telling us that we're nice and healthy. Obviously, when losing a period or having irregular cycles, like for women who suffer from PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome). This can be a major red flag to our health. So to always keep a track of how your menstrual cycle is going and how you are feeling, is truly the best way for us to know if our lady bits are all good.
Manipulating our cycle in training
Now let's discuss how we can take advantage of our cycle in a positive way, so we can have satiety in our workouts.
Our menstrual cycle commonly consists of 28 days with 4 phases..
Phase 1- Menstrual cycle, this is when our period occurs and this also when our bone density is at it's finest! We will have a lower risk of small bone fractures and splints when training which is great! When it comes to training on your menstrual phase, even though it could be the last thing you want to do, some intermediate workouts, running machine work will benefit you from some of the symptoms. I wouldn't recommend smashing out HIIT sessions 5 times a week during this phase but you can definitely still get your heart rate up in other ways of exercise! Also remember that exercise is magic for period cramps!
Phase 2- Follicular phase, this is when our Estrogen levels are on the rise! There's a lot of smack talked around this hormone but I would say it's the better one from Testosterone. Estrogen can help with better recovery in our muscles as well as the help of oxygenating our muscles. We'll also have effects like smoother skin and bigger boobs! At the end of this phase, before we move on to our ovulation phase, our Testosterone levels are also at their highest. Women generally have 10-20 times lower levels of Testosterone to males. When we have these higher levels of Testosterone, we generally train better and lift heavier. This would be the week to hit any PB's you're aiming for or have some killer, sweaty sessions. Take advantage of this hormone!
Phase 3- Ovulation Phase, this is the week our body is ready to make babies! This also makes a lot of sense as to why our Testosterone levels are higher the week before, making us more sex driven and ready to reproduce. We may experience some discomfort from bloating during this phase, due to some water retention occurring. This is only temporary and will go away. With the high levels of Estrogen, some intermediate intensity sessions can be best.
Phase 4 - Luteal Phase, this is our Premenstrual week aka, PMS. Our levels of Estrogen as well as Progesterone drop massively which leaves us with symptoms like mood swings, cramps, cravings etc due to the intense change to our body. Due to the lower levels of these hormones, our training and recovery won't be as sharp. This week can be a week to focus on some mobility, new yoga flows, some chilled ab sessions or even meditation. This is a chill week and your body will thank you for it.
In summary here, if you really want to manipulate your menstrual cycle and have the best week of exercise, I would say the best phase to train is Phase 2 with having higher Testosterone levels, there's more possibility of having a wicked sweat sesh. The Luteal phase (phase 4) may be one of the hardest weeks to train so remember, calm and collected movements for this week. Listen to your body's needs. Phases 1 and 3 are more for your intermediate workouts during the week. By manipulating your cycle, you can be sure of having better muscle recovery and more satiety to your training sessions. Although I gave you some tips, still remember to listen to your body! If you really don't feel like working out, take the poochies out for a leisurely walk. If you're craving a cookie or 2, eat them! There's no right or wrong answer and everyone one is different. If you see someone on instagram smashing a workout and you're watching on the couch with a snack, that's absolutely fine! They may be in a different phase compared to you and their body may be feeling different to yours. No one is the same, so listen to yourself and your body's needs because at the end of the day, this is the only body you will have so stop comparing, that does nothing good in return.
I found information around our amazing bodys from the Libra website so if you want to learn more check that out by clicking Here.
I also advise listening to the JamesSmithPodcast on spotify where he does an episode on "fat loss for females' '. He gets more in depth with a few of the topics I touched base on in this post!
Keep them coming!
If there's anything else you would like me to discuss around this topic or if you have any more questions, please contact me. I love to educate others as well as myself so keep them coming!