Lattice Blog

Water Retention: Modifying Training During The Menstrual Cycle

What is water retention?

Some people experience water retention premenstruation. This is because of an increase in progesterone in the luteal phase which causes the kidneys to retain water and salt.

Water retention may cause stiff joints, achiness or swollen hands, feet, ankles and legs. Some people may experience tender breasts, weight gain or bloating.

Coach Maddy’s Experience with Water Retention

Personally, I (coach Maddy) wouldn’t say that I suffer too greatly from PMS, but something I do suffer from is water retention. This is not uncommon and weight can vary within the menstrual cycle by up to 2 kg. Although the weight fluctuation doesn’t sound like much, when I was wanting to access my max strength I noticed the difference!

How do I change my training/climbing when retaining water?

  1. Understanding and tracking changes throughout my cycle has helped me look at weight fluctuations objectively. When I do feel bloated, I remember that this is not permanent weight gain. This helps maintain a positive mindset.
  1. When I am experiencing water retention, the accompanying increase in weight is a relatively large proportion of my max hang load that I use during hangboard training. During this phase of my cycle, I drop the load. This has helped me to not over-work my fingers. In the past, my fingers have felt tweaky after pushing too hard trying to match my previous session.
  1. I know that lots of climbers like to take the ‘I can do anything on any day’ approach to climbing which is great if that works for you! However, for me, I find it helpful to make informed choices about what climbing I do during this phase; for example, choosing lower-angle climbs, quick red points or less fingery holds. This has had a positive impact on my mentality and motivation. If I want to work on my project, I try to be aware of how water retention is making me feel, and work on making easier sections more efficient if I don’t feel up to working the harder sections. The result of this is that I have more positive experiences and maintain my motivation – I’m practising self-compassion and reminding myself I’m not being ‘lazy’ and ‘should’ be trying something harder.
  1. I remember that, despite feeling slightly heavier, this is not a sign of a mismatch between my intake and expenditure. Weight fluctuations are normal, this weight gain isn’t due to a caloric overintake, so I make sure I keep fueling my climbing!

Do you experience water retention? Let us know in the comments!

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