It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being.
Over 6 days I’m sharing scientifically proven biohacking tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness.
Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your absolute best. Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement — are inputs to our biology and have an enormous impact on our outputs — how we behave, feel, function, and perform on a daily basis.
If the goal is better outputs such as increased energy, clearer thinking, better moods, happier relationships, reduction in illness, optimum performance, and so on, then we need to adjust our inputs.
DAY 3 // Periodize Your Training and Lift Heavy Weights
As women, we are biochemically different than men so it’s important we adopt different approaches that are designed to work for our unique differences and this includes our exercise.
There is a time and place for short intense workouts, lifting heavy, meditating, and doing yoga and barre classes. And each of these is not how you should work out all the time. It’s important to vary your movement consistently, periodize your strength training, and perhaps even periodize your training throughout the month based on your cycle (though optional). How you workout in the first half of your cycle isn’t necessarily how you should work out during the second half of your cycle.
Think about it…you probably don’t feel like kicking your own ass or catching a Barry’s bootcamp class during your period, nor do you want your trainer barking “5 more!” at you when all you really feel like doing is laying in savasana in a warm yoga room. Listen to what your body needs and mix it up. (note: this is not to be used as a consistent excuse for not working out).
If you’re interested in optimizing your health and wellness and performing and feeling your best, start periodizing your training.
Periodization involves systematically planning various aspects of your training program in order to continually challenge your system to adapt and improve while ensuring the body is adequately recovering to reduce the risk of injury and over-training.
Here is an example of the most basic form of periodizing: Think about your overall fitness goal for the next 3-4 months. Now, create 3 separate phases that build on top of each other, each lasting 4-6 weeks, and each with their own goal.
Phase 1 - Work on foundational movements and create your baseline for strength and conditioning
Phase 2 - Progress each of the movements in Phase 1 by increasing weight, intensity, or number of sets and reps
Phase 3 - Continue to progress each of the movements in Phase 2 by increasing the skill needed to perform each movement
Within each phase, create 1-3 strength workouts that you complete every week and program in 1-3 other modalities such as mobility, running, hiking, a yoga or dance class, or anything else active you enjoy.
After all 3 phases are complete, take a lighter recovery week and start back over, but with your new baseline.
Note: For you super active and high intensity ladies out there, it’s incredibly important to rest and schedule in lighter training days, sometimes even weeks. Research shows that individuals can handle around 3-4 weeks of consistent high intensity training and then need a rest, recharge and regeneration week to be scheduled to avoid risk of burnout or injury.
LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS
For the ladies who choose to #yogaeverydamnday…while it might feel good and provide you with the mental clarity (and sanity) you crave (been there done that), your body needs more. I promise. Consider balancing out each week and adding in other types of movements such as strength training, boxing, functional range conditioning, and cardio.
Choose weights that are actually a challenge to your system without allowing your form to breakdown. For example, if you’ve designated 10 reps as your rep scheme, your weight should be heavy enough to just be able to complete the 10 reps, only maybe being able to do 1-2 more.
And if you’re worried about getting bulky from lifting weights, I promise it won’t happen. I’m not saying to go out and go crazy and become a cross-fitter, although, you do you. But research doesn’t lie — lifting heavy will not make you bulky unless you have poorly planned nutrition and you lift with a crazy amount of volume.
CYCLE SYNCING YOUR WORKOUTS:
Once you understand how your hormones shift throughout your cycle and what phase you’re in, you can begin to maximize (and appreciate) your hormonal superpowers (again, see Day 1) and gain better control of your overall health through the foods you eat (see Day 2) and the workouts you choose.
Menstrual Phase — During this phase, progesterone drops and estrogen rises and then falls. It’s best to let your body be your guide and do what feels best each day. Aim for lighter workouts, yoga, stretching, or walking with a friend. It’s best to avoid high-impact workouts since they can stress the uterine ligaments and you’re more sensitive to pain.
Follicular Phase — hormones are at their lowest point but are starting to rise so more intense workouts, heavy weights, and challenging movements will start to feel good.
Ovulation Phase — estrogen is at an all-time high, testosterone surges, and you’re on an energy high! Get your higher intensity workouts in like running, strength training, HIIT classes, and boxing. You’re also feeling like a social butterfly so it’s a great time to check out that new class or studio you’ve been thinking about.
Luteal Phase — hello rollercoaster. Hormones are waving up and down. Support this phase with making sure you are eating enough to support your workouts and recovery (See Day 2) and individualize your workouts based on how your energy is each day. If you’ve got energy, get your strength in, if you’re lower on energy one day, choose either a lower intensity but longer duration cardio day or a short and quick workout to get in and out.
Here’s my recommendation for being a better functioning human.
Start listening to your body
Periodize your workouts
Ditch the 5 pound dumbbells
Add in heavy weights regularly
Explore what it takes to speak to your joints directly
Consider cycle syncing your workouts
LET ME KNOW…
Do you periodize your training? Do you lift heavy? Have you tried syncing your workouts with your cycle?
What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!
Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks
Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.