Women rejoice! It has now been proven that your menstrual cycle can be your shortcut to a more healthy you. Previously, strength training have always been synonymous with burly men grunting under heavy metal plates in the gym and many researches have been done on the exercise regimes of men so this may very well be the first study done on women to determine how to get leaner and shredder muscles during the different stages of menstrual cycle.
The study carried out in Umeå University, Sweden by Lisbeth Wikström-Frisén was carried out on 59 women in a four-month leg resistance training program to better understand the effect of strength training on women. The women were divided into two groups; one group exercised during the first two weeks of their menstrual cycle while the other group underwent training during the third and fourth week of their period.
Women belonging in the first group showed more muscular mass and strength than women of the second group, indicating that exercising during the first two weeks of menstrual cycle has an improved effect on women.
Lisbeth says, “Since menstruation is a central part in everyday life for women and their training, we need to become better at taking this into account when optimizing training.”
The researchers conclude that periodical resistance training could help in reducing female-specific health risks associated with resistance training. In addition, they also compared effect of exercise on women using birth control pills and those without, and found out that hormone-based pills induce no differences.
Effect Of Stress Hormone Cortisol
Lisbeth and her co-researchers also studied the effects of cortisol levels in 33 women which showed that women who took birth control pills showed high levels of stress hormone.
Lisbeth concluded, “The varying levels of cortisol are of importance when optimizing training for women. If we measure cortisol levels of women who are on the pill and find increased values, it could easily be interpreted as if they are over-trained, but that’s not necessarily the case according to our research results.”
This study highlights another reason why women should embrace their inner hormonal cycle and make good use of it to optimize their exercise regimes.