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  • Ingri Pauline

The Gym 101: P6: Mensuration and Muscle

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Your period.


Not the thing most women think of but coming from a woman who has lost her period for two years, I am grateful every time I have it.

We should really honor out cycles as it tell us SO MUCH about what we are capable of, our current hormonal health and it gives us a tell about our bodies performance. It is a signal of our super power as women.

So start working with your period and make it work for you.

For women, making your training work for your cycle is just as important as making it work for your schedule. I always say if your trainer doesn't ask you about your poop, your menstrual cycle or your hard on, you need a new trainer.


Because these are the the most basic feedback loops for hormonal and overall health.

My aim is to get you training in sync with your period, so I'm going to skip the basic bio class and give you the most necessary facts.

Your cycle has 3 phases. We are going to work with the standard 28 day cycle BUT every period is different. Here is the potent info for each phase

Follicular Phase:

  • Days 1-11, including menstruation

  • Lower hormone phase

  • Higher tolerance for pain

  • Highest voluntary force generation capacity

  • High insulin sensitivity

  • Optimum time for muscle mass generation

What this means for training:

GO HARD. You have the opportunity to make the most amount of strength gains here. Eat the most amount of carbs during this time to build muscle and fuel activity. Focus on progress and goals. Hit the GYM!


  • Days 12-17

  • High sheer force generation capacity

  • High estrogen

  • Rising Basal Metabolic rate

What this means for training:

Oh, girl, you probably feeling pretty cute. Well, you should also feel pretty capable too. Test your performance! Find your 1 RM or fastest mile time. Do your HIIT workouts, 5x5's and sprints. This is the time when you will not only attract the most suitors but also perform your best.

Also, pay very close attention to your technique. Estrogen effect collagen and joint laxity. Because the the high estrogen in your body, you are more susceptible to injury. So work like a stud and when you are kinda tired, stop. The more fatigued you are, the more likely you are to hurt your self.

Because of the higher metabolism, you may be likely to give into cravings. Don't read too much into it. If you are going for muscle growth, this is necessary. if you are going for fat loss, you may have to be more careful (oh, and you can only pick one of those: change your body or shred. Most women need to change BEFORE they shred).

Luteal Phase:

  • Days 18-28

  • Higher body temperature

  • Higher cardiovascular strain

  • Lowest tolerance to fatigue

  • Increase in water retention

  • Peak metabolic rate

  • Lower serotonin production

  • Low insulin sensitivity

What this means for training:

You wont feel as strong or motivated. Our goal is fat loss and getting enough exercise to break a sweat and feel good, not to exhaust ourselves.

Focus on long duration and steady-state cardio with moderate paced resistance training. Runs, hikes and bike rides when you are just moving and breathing with an increased heart rate. You should still be able to hold a conversation, but it will be labored. In the gym you will want to focus on light/medium weight at higher reps (4-5 x 15-20). Yoga is a great call high now.

You will also be more moody and irritable. Couple that with a high metabolism and you have a recipe for low self-control. Instead of reaching for the cookies, choose food high in protein and fat: meat, cheese, nuts and rethink what a treat is. Dates and walnuts are a great combo or even a slice of sourdough bread with butter and cheese. We want to optimize our fat burning in this phase.

Your Hormones Are Your Friends

I know that sounds crazy in comparison to all the propaganda out there that make women feel bad by calling them "hormonal."

When you understand you body and work with it, it never feels like its against you. This becomes a great personal power. This how we honor ourselves as women.

If you have incredibly painful periods or PMS, this is an indication the your hormones are our of whack. Do you research and track your cycle. My favorite app to do it is with CLUE but there are many other good ones like FLOW.

Soon your cycle will stop being a mystery or a foe and start being your ally.

If you suspect you have off hormones, check your 5 S's:

Are you getting enough






Try upping all of those and see how you feel after 3 or 4 cycles.

And train hormonally optimal!


Learn all the basics and insider knowledge

Check out The Gym 101 Series

Part 1: Exercise Selection

Part 2: Set and Rep Schemes

Part 3: Training Splits and Organizing Your Week

Part 4: Creating Fun Workouts

Part 5: Training Around Injuries and Imbalances

Part 6: Menstruation and Muscle

Part 7: Finding New Gyms

Part 8: Navigating the Gym

Part 9: Gym Rules

Part 10: Fitness and Pregnancy

Part 11: Postpartum Exercise, Birth to 4 weeks

Part 12: Postpartum Exercise, 4-16 Weeks

Part 13: Recovery

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