I seem to spend so much time here talking about food, so thought I'd say something about my training, particularly in regards to my monthly cycle. My last comp was October last year, and my periods started again in January. I've had them every month since, although the timing has varied slightly, ranging from 18 to 33 days. What I have noticed, though, is that for the few days before my period starts I am absolutely pooped, like my body is putting all of its energy into that. I need much more sleep and I really struggle to get out of bed. Once I'm up, I don't feel like doing much, including working out. I think I've skipped the workout prior to my period arriving for the last 3 months running. I thought it would be great to have a program that I could fit around my monthly cycle, structured so that I'm training less vigorously leading up to my period and more at other times.
And then I read Danny McLarty's Deload Week: The Missing Link. In it there is a Four-Week Strategy for Women that suggests a deloading week around the time frame that I typically have lower training tolerance (days 22 to 28 of cycle).
Here is what he suggests for a 28-day cycle:
Week 1 — Days 1-5 of menstrual cycle: Medium Volume Week
Because you should still be on the "cautious" side here, I suggest leaving a little in the tank on each set by staying a rep or two from failure. Volume-wise, aiming for 16 sets per training session would be a good guideline.
Week 2 — Days 6-13 of menstrual cycle: High Volume Week
Time to get after it and really push it! Aiming for 20 sets per training session would be a good idea over this time period.
Week 3 — Days 15-21 of menstrual cycle: Very High Volume Week
Time to crush it again, just like in week two, but now we'll increase the volume even more because we know that we'll be backing off next week, as that's when the deload time begins. Shoot for 24 sets per training session here.
Week 4 — Days 22-28 of menstrual cycle: Deload Week
Once again, you have the option of reducing either volume, intensity, or both. You can either reduce your volume by 50% from the very high week, or reduce the intensity by 10-20%. Since this is the time of the month where injury risk is at its highest, I suggest taking a break from plyometrics and any other high impact or high injury-risk movements during this week.
I am in week 1 at the moment and have adjusted my training schedule so that I am using it as the first week of a new program. The following two weeks will increase in volume, then my 'deload' week will essentially be my first full week in New Zealand, when I'm not expecting to get as much exercise done. Am looking forward to seeing how this approach works for me. Am feeling pretty good so far, deliberately being a bit more cautious this week than usual.