Every Woman’s Built-in Performance Enhancer
In a new study, women who strength-trained during the first two weeks of their cycle had greater gains in muscle mass, strength and power than those who trained during the last two weeks. Once the provenance of hippie-dippie Mother Moon types, menstrual cycle monitoring could help female athletes optimize their training and minimize the risk of injury.
Most studies on athletic training have focused on men; few have examined how female athletes can use hormonal fluctuations to their advantage. To that end, Lisbeth Wikström-Frisén of Sweden’s Umeå University recruited 59 women to participate in a four-month leg-resistance training program that included vertical jumping to test power and an exercise machine to test strength. The high-frequency portion of the program involved training five times a week, while the low-frequency portion involved training only once a week. Wikström-Frisén’s team assigned the women to three groups. One group completed the high-frequency portion during the first two weeks of each four-week menstrual cycle, while another did so during the last two weeks. A control group trained three times a week for the entire four-month period.