Adjusting training plan around menstrual cycle?

As promised from today’s call, here is my current burning question for @Coach_Theia:
Is there truly a benefit to moving around the workouts of the month so that the recovery week coincides with the week leading up to, and including the first few days of menstruation? (Those first two days are the ones I struggle most with each month. Theoretically, per ROAR, the days leading up are low performance days? I have not noticed the latter, however.) Thanks!
-Angie

Thanks for this great topic Angie!

I have read ROAR and several other experts, as well as studies on the subject of whether we should change our training based on the different phases of the menstrual cycle. The most important takeaways are:

  1. There is lack of clear evidence supporting a change/adjustment in training based on a woman’s menstrual cycle. More research is needed.

  2. There are practical recommendations to avoid low energy availability, but more research needs to help define specific dietary strategies that take into account the unique aspects of the sport or type and times of training.

  3. There is a lack of research specific to women and even more so the impact of their menstrual cycle of various types of exercise. The nature of what we know at this point is based on steady-state exercise. A more recent study suggests that the findings that the menstrual cycle affects fat oxidation are NOT, in fact, universal to all aerobic exercise types.

Based on the above:

  • Take the book ROAR and Stacy Sim’s recommendations with skepticism. There is some good information in her book, but it is not as clear cut as she leads the readers to believe. She has been criticized by many experts on her approach, as it can be misleading. She has even made recommendations that are not supported by evidence (such as to avoid antioxidant fruits post-exercise).

  • Know yourself. Keep notes of how you feel and perform, how you sleep, stress, fatigue levels and workout/event performance. You can do all this using TrainingPeaks (Metrics). Over time you will find your unique needs and patterns. It’s absolutely not the same for everyone (again, as Stacy suggests).

The book The exercising female: Science and its application is a much better resource, but it is technical and expensive.

More studies showing the lack of clear support for altering training/exercise/nutrition based solely on the menstrual cycle.

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I like that you take Stacy Simms with a grain of salt. I read Roar and found some of it to be really useful (mainly the advice about protein immediately after workouts), and some of it to definitely not work for me (mainly the advice for during workout nutrition and the infamous “nutrition in your pocket, hydration in your bottle”).

The Exercising Female is actually available as a Kindle rental for not too $ if you are ok with reading it and giving it back.
Do you have any other suggestions for related reading?

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I too have read ROAR. I thought there were some good points in it It did make me more aware of post ride and workout foods. I thought she fell short on having a one size fits all. There is no real mention of anything about vegan/ vegetarian athletes. She supports one hydration product and that’s it.

I tried googling her once time and only came up with ROAR. I was expecting more.

I believe what @Coach_Theia touched upon. You need to get to know your own body and figure out what works for you. We are all different and things work different for each of us. That’s just my take.

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