Low Intensity Training: Syncing Menstrual Cycles & Training Cycles
If you menstruate, you might be able to use low intensity training to your advantage and use your menstrual cycle to guide your training plan.
Training plans tend to follow a pattern; a 3-5 week cycle with low, medium and high intensity weeks.
We use variation week-to-week to minimise monotony, recover from fatigue and to facilitate adaptation (the way our body changes and improves in response to training!)
It can be helpful to use our menstrual cycle to guide this pattern and variation in intensity.
The Menstrual Cycle
It’s common to experience tiredness, mood changes, cramps and/or headaches during the late luteal and/or menstruation phase of the menstrual cycle.
This may mean high intense climbing or training feels less accessible, physically and/or mentally.
But as we know, not every session should be high intensity! So it may benefit you to save those lower intensity sessions for a specific point in your cycle when you want a more chill time.
How does lower intensity training benefit us?
1. Build Endurance
Low intensity climbing, where we feel very little or no pump, helps to develop our aerobic energy system.
When we look to solely target our aerobic system, it should feel like we could stay on the wall for a very long time.
2. Practice Flow (no pun intended)
Low intensity climbing can be a good time to focus on fluid movement and timing our breathing with our movement.
This can be a useful skill to develop for keeping us present, calm and focused when climbing.
3. Target smaller muscle groups
Accessory exercises are exercises that target a smaller and specific muscle group for strengthening.
They’re often required to be performed at a lower intensity so the correct load is applied for those muscles. You can prioritise these essential exercises for the phases of your cycle when you don’t feel like high intensity training. They also don’t take as long to recover from.
Why not align lower intensity sessions with those periods where you feel lower energy, less focused, etc.? Save these sessions for training on your period!
Conclusion: Training on your period? How to use low intensity training to your advantage!
As a tried-and-tested format for training plans is a four week cycle, we can use our menstrual cycle to influence when we schedule different sessions and weeks in our training. It may be beneficial to save lower intensity sessions for when you’re training on your period or the phase when you feel least on form.
You can sync your deload week with your cycle if there’s a time when training feels particularly undesirable.
Learn more about the menstrual cycle and how it may affect your training.
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