Is it harder to build muscle in the luteal phase?

Did you know it’s harder to build muscle in the luteal phase of your cycle compared to the follicular phase? Interesting, right?

Ok, let’s start with the luteal phase…

The luteal phase is the ‘second half’ of your cycle – from ovulation (approximately day 14 of a 28-day cycle) through the 1st day of your next period.

During this time, your body experiences a considerable upsurge in estrogen and progesterone followed by a decline, which initiates mensuration.

While an upswing in estrogen can help build muscle, progesterone’s catabolic effects seem to counteract it. Progesterone also acts as testosterone antagonist, which also blocks lean muscle-building. This basically means it’s harder to grow and easier to lose muscle during this time.

What this means to you…

  • You might struggle to hit high intensities
  • May find that you don’t have as much endurance
  • Might be more sore and recover slowly
  • Could feel more fatigued during exercise and overall

Basically, don’t judge the results of your training based on your performance in this phase alone. Decreased performance is a perfectly normal in the luteal phase… and remember this won’t last forever!

Change your training by:

  • Decreasing the weight used or number of repetitions or sets
  • Reducing the number of workouts you do per week
  • Focus more on restorative activities and LISS (low-intensity steady-state) training

There’s no point in spinning your wheels, so during the luteal phase, especially the week before your period, try exercises like:

  • Yoga
  • Barre
  • Pilates
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Walking

This way, you keep moving while your body experiences the hormonal influx without putting additional stress on your hormones. (FYI: Excess cortisol can lead to blood sugar issues, belly fat, poor sleep, muscle-wasting, and more!)

Have you noticed that the way you feel during your workouts changes throughout the month? Do you modify your workouts during different phases of your cycle?

P.S. Want to learn more about Cycle Syncing? I’m hosting a webinar called Cycle Syncing Made Simple all about how to sync your workouts with your menstrual cycle on 9/21. Get the details and sign up via the link in my profile!

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