This trick helps female strength athletes build 40 percent more muscle

From Ergo Log

Young women who do strength training can speed up their muscle growth by making clever use of their menstrual cycle. Sports scientists at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany discovered that if women concentrate their workouts in the follicular phase of their cycle, and train a bit less during the luteal phase, they’ll build up more muscle mass and strength.

Women have more testosterone and more estradiol in their blood during the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle than during the luteal phase. Sports scientists have suspected for a while that female athletes can make use of the hormonal fluctuations in their bodies.

You’d expect that women recover more easily from training during the follicular phase. To discover whether that is indeed the case, the researchers did an experiment with 20 women whose average age was 25. The women all had a regular cycle and did not use contraception.

The women trained their legs on a leg-press machine, training their left and right leg separately.

They trained one leg more during the follicular phase. Each cycle consisted of: 8 times during the follicular phase and 2 times during the luteal phase. [FT]

The women trained the other leg more during the luteal phase. Each cycle then consisted of: 8 times during the luteal phase and 2 times during the follicular phase. [LT]

The experiment lasted for 5 menstrual cycles.

At the end of the experiment the women had 46 percent more muscle mass and 42 percent more muscle strength in the leg they had trained most during the follicular phase than in the other leg.

“We recommend that eumenorrheic females without oral contraception base the periodization of strength training on their individual menstrual cycle”, the researchers write.

Springerplus. 2014 Nov 11;3:668. eCollection 2014.



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