Understanding Menstrual Cycle and Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

Understanding Menstrual Cycle & Female Physiology for Better Training

A female’s physiology is completely different to a male. Knowledge about the female physiology is vital for personal trainers and health coaches to aid the female clients to get the best results possible and to foster a healthier and more informed society overall.

A key consideration for a female client includes her menstrual cycle. Female’s physiology is very different in different weeks of the month as women go through this cycle. Having a strong understanding of this can really help the personal trainers and coaches to aid their female clients in terms of dealing with the issues that might come because of that.

Many women experience menstrual irregularities or disorders. Understanding female physiology helps identify and address issues related to menstruation, such as painful periods, heavy bleeding, or irregular cycles, leading to improved quality of life and better health and training.

In our article’s conclusion, we share several points in brief to consider for personal trainers & coaches.

Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle is a natural, recurring process that occurs in the female reproductive system of fertile women of reproductive age. It involves a series of hormonal and physiological changes that prepare the body for a potential pregnancy. The menstrual cycle typically lasts about 28 days, although it can vary between individuals and can be shorter or longer.

The menstrual cycle is divided into several phases:

  • Menstruation (Days 1-5): The cycle begins with menstruation, also known as a period. During this phase, the uterus sheds its inner lining, which was built up in the previous cycle to support a potential pregnancy. Menstrual bleeding typically lasts around 3 to 7 days.
  • Follicular Phase (Days 1-13): This phase starts on the first day of menstruation. The pituitary gland in the brain releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in the ovaries. Each follicle contains an immature egg. Usually, only one follicle becomes dominant and continues to mature while the others regress.
  • Ovulation (Day 14): Around the middle of the menstrual cycle (typically day 14 in a 28-day cycle), a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers the release of the matured egg from the dominant follicle. This process is known as ovulation. The released egg is then available for fertilization for about 24 hours.
  • Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): After ovulation, the ruptured follicle transforms into the corpus luteum, which releases the hormone progesterone. Progesterone prepares the uterine lining to support a fertilized egg if conception occurs. If fertilization doesn’t happen, the corpus luteum disintegrates, and hormone levels drop, leading to the shedding of the uterine lining in preparation for the next menstrual cycle.

The menstrual cycle is controlled by a delicate interplay of hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone, produced by the ovaries and regulated by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in the brain. It is important for regulating fertility and preparing the body for potential pregnancy. Understanding the menstrual cycle is crucial for effective personal training, family planning, fertility awareness, and recognizing any irregularities that may indicate underlying health issues.

HPO Axis

The three HPO (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian) axis namely HPA, HPG, and HPT axes are three pathways in which the hypothalamus and pituitary direct neuroendocrine function. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the female reproductive system are intertwined and exhibit a complex relationship. When we’re talking about female reproductive cycle, we’re talking about the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and then the ovaries that becomes the AHP axis.

The hypothalamus sits on the top. The pituitary, or very specifically in this case, we talk about the anterior pituitary, sits in the middle. And the ovaries are at the bottom. The hypothalamus will tell the pituitary what to do. The pituitary will tell the ovaries what to do. And it all runs up.

HPO Axis - Understanding Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

Key Hormones and Their Roles

The following hormones work together in a delicate and intricate hormonal feedback system to regulate the menstrual cycle, control ovulation, and prepare the body for potential pregnancy. Any imbalances in these hormones can lead to menstrual irregularities, fertility issues, and various health concerns. Understanding the roles of these key hormones is crucial for women’s health and well-being.

  • GnRH – Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone
    • GnRH is produced by the hypothalamus in the brain, and it regulates the release of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland. The pulsatile release of GnRH governs the timing of the menstrual cycle and the production of FSH and LH. It is the Hypothalamic hormone that tells the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH.
  • FSH – Follicular Stimulating Hormone
    • FSH is a hormone released by the pituitary gland in the brain. In the menstrual cycle, FSH stimulates the growth and development of ovarian follicles, each containing an immature egg. As the follicles grow, they produce estrogen.
    • Highest in first ½ cycle
    • Stimulates production of estrogen (tells cells to grow)
    • Promotes growth and maturation of ovarian follicles
    • Promotes growth of endothelial lining
  • LH – Luteinising Hormone
    • LH is another hormone released by the pituitary gland. A surge in LH triggers ovulation, which is the release of a matured egg from the dominant follicle. LH also stimulates the transformation of the ruptured follicle into the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone.
    • Highest around ovulation and drops off in the 2nd ½ cycle
    • Helps trigger ovulation
    • Instigates and maintains the luteal phase
    • Without LH there is no viable corpeous luteum

Estrogen

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and is responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics during puberty. It plays a significant role in regulating the menstrual cycle, promoting the growth and maturation of the ovarian follicles, and preparing the uterine lining for potential pregnancy during the follicular phase.

  • Estrogen (Estrone, Estradiol, Estriol)
    • Estrone, often abbreviated as E1, is one of the three primary naturally occurring estrogens in the human body. The other two estrogens are estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). Estrogens are a group of steroid hormones that play essential roles in the development and maintenance of female sexual characteristics and reproductive functions.
    • Estrone is produced primarily in the ovaries, as well as in smaller amounts in other tissues like the adrenal glands, placenta during pregnancy, and adipose (fat) tissues. It is a weaker estrogen compared to estradiol but still significant in various physiological processes, especially during menopause when it becomes the dominant estrogen.
    • Stimulates endometrial growth and thickening
    • Vaginal lubrication
    • Maintains female characteristics
    • Promotes sleep quality
  • Low Estrogen Symptoms
    • Poor cognitive functioning
    • Emotional instability (serotonin and receptors low)
    • Vaginal dryness and decreased libido
    • Lack of motivation for training (week 4)
  • Estrogen dominance Symptoms
    • Excessive menstrual bleeding/clotting
    • Emotional disruption (serotonin high, receptor increase)
    • Gall bladder dysfunction (increased cholesterol in bile)
    • PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Progesterone and Inhibin

Progesterone is a steroid hormone that plays a crucial role in the female reproductive system and is essential for various reproductive functions. It is primarily produced in the ovaries after ovulation and, to a lesser extent, in the adrenal glands and placenta during pregnancy.

Progesterone is a key hormone during the second half of the menstrual cycle, known as the luteal phase. After ovulation, the ruptured ovarian follicle transforms into a structure called the corpus luteum, which secretes progesterone. Progesterone helps prepare the uterine lining (endometrium) for potential implantation of a fertilized egg.

Inhibin is a hormone that plays a significant role in the regulation of the reproductive system, particularly in the control of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion. It is primarily produced by the ovaries in females and the testes in males, although other tissues, such as the placenta during pregnancy, can also produce small amounts of inhibin.

Overall, inhibin plays a critical role in the finely tuned feedback system that regulates the secretion of hormones involved in the female reproductive systems, contributing to the delicate balance necessary for normal reproductive function.

  • Progesterone
    • Tells cells to mature
    • Highest in luteal phase
    • Produced in high amounts via the corpus luteum
    • Also produced in the adrenals (support)
    • Level in luteal phase in dependent on level of estrogen in the follicular phase
    • Catabolic in nature (body temp and increased metabolism)
  • Inhibin
    • A & B
    • Mainly present in luteal phase (produced by CL)
    • Inhibits the release of FSH from the pituitary

Stress and Its Impact on HPO Axis

There is bidirectional relationship between stress and the HPO axis. Therefor managing stress is crucial for maintaining reproductive health. Stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation, mindfulness, adequate sleep, and seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can help reduce the impact of stress on the HPO axis and overall well-being.

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian (HPO) axis is a complex neuroendocrine system that plays a central role in regulating the female reproductive system. It involves the interaction between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries. The HPO axis controls the secretion of key hormones, including gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone, which are essential for the menstrual cycle and fertility.

Stress can have a significant impact on the HPO axis and disrupt the normal hormonal balance in the female body. The relationship between stress and the HPO axis is complex and bidirectional, meaning stress can affect the HPO axis, and the HPO axis can also influence the body’s response to stress. 

Impact of Stress on the HPO Axis:

  • Disruption of GnRH Secretion: Stress can lead to the dysregulation of GnRH secretion from the hypothalamus. High levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can inhibit GnRH release, affecting the normal pulsatile pattern of GnRH secretion required for a well-functioning menstrual cycle.
  • Suppression of Reproductive Hormones: Chronic stress can lead to reduced secretion of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland. These hormones are essential for follicular development, ovulation, and the production of estrogen and progesterone.
  • Menstrual Irregularities: Stress-induced hormonal imbalances can lead to menstrual irregularities, such as missed periods, irregular cycles, or anovulation (failure to ovulate). Prolonged or severe stress can even result in amenorrhea, where menstruation stops altogether.
  • Fertility Issues: Stress-related disruptions in the HPO axis can lead to fertility problems, as irregular ovulation or anovulation can make it difficult to conceive.
  • Impact on Pregnancy: Stress during pregnancy can also affect the HPO axis and disrupt hormonal balance, potentially leading to pregnancy complications.

Impact of the HPO Axis on the Stress Response:

Conversely, the HPO axis can influence the body’s response to stress. Estrogen and progesterone levels, which are regulated by the HPO axis, can modulate the body’s stress response. These hormones have neuroprotective effects and may help reduce the impact of stress on the brain and body.

It’s important to note that not all women will experience the same level of impact from stress on their HPO axis. Individual differences, coping mechanisms, and overall health play a role in how stress affects reproductive hormones and menstrual function.

Menopause

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation, which occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and the production of reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) declines significantly. Menopause is a normal part of aging and typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being around 51.

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, and while it marks the end of fertility, it also signals a new chapter. With appropriate healthcare and support, women can navigate menopause and continue to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life.

Key points about menopause:

  • Perimenopause: Before menopause, many women go through a transitional phase called perimenopause. During perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations can cause irregular menstrual cycles, changes in menstrual flow, and various menopausal symptoms. Perimenopause can last for several years before menopause is reached.
  • Symptoms: Menopause is associated with a range of symptoms due to hormonal changes. Common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, sleep disturbances, and changes in urinary patterns.
  • Postmenopause: After menopause, the phase following the final menstrual period is called postmenopause. During this time, menopausal symptoms may gradually diminish, but the health-related effects of reduced estrogen continue.
  • Health Implications: Menopause can have significant effects on a woman’s health. Reduced estrogen levels can lead to changes in bone density, potentially increasing the risk of osteoporosis. It may also impact heart health, vaginal health, and other aspects of well-being.
  • Management: Many women find relief from menopausal symptoms through lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and getting enough sleep. For severe symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other medications may be considered under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Postmenopausal Health Screening: After menopause, it is essential for women to continue regular health screenings and check-ups to monitor and manage potential health risks associated with menopause, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular health.
  • Fertility: Once menopause is reached, a woman can no longer conceive naturally, as her ovaries no longer release eggs. The lack of menstrual periods is a reliable sign of menopause, but women should continue using contraception until they have gone through at least 12 consecutive months without a period (confirmed menopause).

Some females will experience more intense symptoms than others.

To help reduce symptoms of menopause:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Reduce caffeine intake

Training Considerations

Essentially a female’s physiology will change throughout the month dependent on where they are within their menstrual cycle.

So, it’s really imperative that there is good understanding of female physiology for training. In order to get the best training results possible for females we went through the menstrual cycle in its entirety above and we talked a lot about the hormones that are at play and the various different stages of menstrual cycle and how that’s going to impact or how those hormones fluctuate.

Therefore, tracking the cycle is going to be really, really imperative. A cycle when we’re speaking in this term is going to be 28 days, it can move but we’re going to speak about it as a 28-day gap on the first day of somebody’s cycle is when they first see bleeding. So, when they first have menstruation, that will be day one.

We will now be looking at training considerations and essentially looking at tools that we can utilize within our training. Note that menstruation cycles are commonly called periods.

Period Tracking Tools

A period tracking tool, also known as a menstrual cycle tracker or period tracker, is a digital application or software designed to help individuals, primarily those with menstrual cycles, monitor and record various aspects of their menstrual health. Overall, period tracking tools empower individuals to better understand and manage their menstrual health, promote awareness about fertility and reproductive health, and enable them to make informed decisions about family planning and overall well-being. This tool is very helpful in decision making related to training considerations.

The main functions of a period tracking tool typically include:

  • Menstrual Cycle Tracking: The primary purpose of these tools is to track the start and end dates of menstrual periods. Users can record the first day of their period, and the tool calculates the average length of their menstrual cycle over time.
  • Symptom Monitoring: These tools often include features to record and monitor various symptoms experienced during the menstrual cycle, such as cramps, mood swings, headaches, bloating, and others. This helps individuals gain insights into patterns and possible menstrual-related conditions.
  • Birth Control Management: For those using natural family planning methods, a period tracking tool can be helpful in determining safe and unsafe days for intercourse.
  • Fertility Tracking: Period tracking tools can also help users track their fertility by identifying ovulation days, which are the most fertile days in the menstrual cycle. By knowing their fertile window, individuals can plan or avoid pregnancy accordingly.
  • Reminders and Alerts: The application may send reminders to users when their period is expected to start, when they are likely to be fertile, or when they should take contraceptive measures if required.
  • Health Insights: Some advanced period tracking tools may provide insights into overall health and wellness by correlating menstrual cycles with sleep patterns, exercise, nutrition, and stress levels.
  • Personalized Data Analysis: The tool may analyze the data inputted by the user over time to identify patterns, irregularities, and potential health concerns. This information can be valuable when consulting healthcare providers.
  • Predictive Forecasting: Based on the historical data collected, the application can make predictions about the next period’s start date and ovulation day.

Some of the tracking apps are Eve, Glow, Flo, Clue and Ovia.

Sometimes what you’ll find is that females don’t actually have menstruation, but they still go through the symptoms of a of a cycle. Here the apps are very helpful.

Digital Basal Thermometers

There are various reasons as to why a female might experience amenorrhea, which just means a loss of menstruation. Amenorrhea is not a disease itself but rather a symptom or a sign of an underlying health issue. Obviously, things like stress are a reason. So hypothalamic amenorrhea can exist. So, a good thing to do with that is to take a body temperature reading. Now if you’re going to do this, it has to be a digital basal thermometer.

A digital basal thermometer is a specialized type of thermometer designed to measure and track a woman’s basal body temperature (BBT). Basal body temperature refers to the body’s lowest resting temperature, which is typically measured in the morning after a few hours of uninterrupted sleep and before engaging in any physical activity or movement.

Digital basal thermometers are more sensitive and accurate than regular digital thermometers, making them suitable for tracking small changes in temperature that occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle. They are commonly used by women who are trying to conceive (TTC) or who are using natural family planning methods to monitor their fertility.

Here are the features of digital basal thermometer:

Accuracy: Digital basal thermometers are highly accurate and can measure temperatures to two decimal places, such as 97.56°F.

Temperature Memory: Many digital basal thermometers come with a memory function that allows users to store and track their previous temperature readings over time.

Time Display: Some basal thermometers display the time along with the temperature, making it convenient for users to take their temperature immediately upon waking.

Charting: Women using basal thermometers often chart their daily temperature readings on a graph or in a mobile application to identify patterns and changes in temperature throughout their menstrual cycle. The temperature shift typically occurs after ovulation, indicating a rise in progesterone levels.

Following is a graph showing fluctuations in basal body temperature:

Basal Body Temperature - Understanding Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

Variations in sleep patterns, illness, alcohol consumption, and other factors can influence basal body temperature, so it’s essential to interpret the data in conjunction with other signs for a comprehensive understanding of patterns. As for example, a higher metabolic rate means a higher body temperature and a requirement for more calories.

It just gives a bit of a better understanding as to what’s happening now. Obviously, if fat loss is the goal, we are going to track scale weight. But it’s really important for us to understand where in the cycle a female is going to be heavier and where she is going to be lighter. If we were to compare week one with week four, we know that scale weight in week one is going to be the lowest and scale weight in week four is going to be heaviest, if everything else remained the same.

Thus, it helps in training. Once we have an understanding and awareness, it makes things a lot easier. Because we feel like we have a control on it. Scale weight is the most reflective of true weight about 2 to 3 days post Menzies. This information is something that has again been massively beneficial in helping females understand what is actually going on.

Nutritional Considerations

Moving forward to nutritional considerations, steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol. Steroid hormones are androgens and estrogens. In order to make sure this is optimal; we have to ensure an adequate intake of high-quality dietary fats so we know how important dietary fats are for hormone production. So, for females who are running extremely low-fat diets, this can cause an issue.

Steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol

  • Ensure adequate intake of high-quality dietary fats
  • Ensure SOME saturated fats as these are essential and still have stigma attached
  • Coconut oil is an easy one

Because of the cholesterol production, without that we’re going to really struggle from a hormonal standpoint. Overall, we want to ensure that there’s an adequate intake of high-quality fats from diet. You want to ensure that some of these fats are saturated. And obviously, saturated fats have got a massive stigma attached to them, especially within the female population. But they are essential.

Now, that’s not to say that all of your fat that you take from a dietary standpoint should be saturated, but there should be some in there. And saturated fats obviously come in from things like butters and animal fats. Coconut oil is a fantastic one. Eggs is a fantastic one. We should include some of this in the diet stock. Chocolate. That’s also a good one as well. So coconut oil is usually the easiest to get in, it’s seemingly on trend forever in the fitness industry and seen as a very healthy thing to take, whereas butter is seen as like the worst thing that you could ever eat that both extremely high in saturated fats. So, either is always going to be useful.

Liver Support and Detoxification

Strong detoxification is required for estrogen. A healthy liver helps with more efficient estrogen detoxification. To support the liver from a nutritional standpoint, we need to ensure that it’s a diet that’s high fibre, dark, leafy greens, lots of vitamins and minerals, good quality dietary fats, and a wide variety of nutrients in general. So having various vegetables and lots of fruits will help.

  • Diet high in fiber
  • Dark Leafy Greens
  • Good quality dietary fats
  • Wide variety of nutrients
  • Weakened liver function increases availability of estrogens
  • Can supplement to support liver (useful if drastic change to current diet)

Also, you can use supplement to support the liver. That’s going to be useful if there’s a drastic change in somebody’s current diet just because the body might not be in a position where it can effectively digest, assimilate and absorb the nutrients. So, utilizing some sort of supplement, you can utilize liver support, a liver stack from supplement needs just to support the liver initially whilst transferring somebody over. But eventually we should be able to come off that and it should be absolutely fine.

Following is an infographic about the liver detoxification pathways and how it works.

Liver Detox Pathways - Understanding Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

Liver detoxification is very useful. Liver detoxification, also known as hepatic detoxification, refers to the process by which the liver metabolizes and eliminates harmful substances and toxins from the body. The liver plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health by filtering and processing various chemicals, drugs, hormones, and waste products to ensure they do not accumulate to harmful levels.

The liver detoxification process mainly occurs in two phases:

  • Phase 1: Activation and Transformation
    • Cytochrome P450 Enzymes: In this phase, various enzymes, primarily from the cytochrome P450 family, work to activate and convert toxins into more water-soluble forms. This process is known as biotransformation. The activated toxins can sometimes become even more reactive and potentially harmful before they proceed to phase 2.
    • Production of Reactive Intermediates: During phase 1, reactive intermediates may be generated, which are potentially toxic substances. These intermediates can damage cells and tissues if not efficiently processed in phase 2.
  • Phase 2: Conjugation and Elimination
    • Conjugation: In phase 2, the activated toxins from phase 1 are bound to specific molecules like glucuronic acid, sulfur, acetyl groups, or amino acids. This process is called conjugation and makes the toxins even more water-soluble.
    • Elimination: Once the toxins are conjugated, they are rendered less harmful and more easily excreted from the body through bile or urine. The bile, which contains the conjugated toxins, is transported to the intestines, where it aids in the digestion of fats. From there, the toxins are eventually eliminated from the body through feces. Some toxins are also filtered by the kidneys and excreted in urine.

It is important to note that the liver detoxification process is highly complex and can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, and exposure to toxins. A well-balanced diet, sufficient water intake, regular exercise, and minimizing exposure to harmful substances can help support and optimize liver function.

Cycle Summary and Training Considerations - Understanding Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

Source – The Women’s Book Vol 1 – Lyle McDonald

Follicular Phase

  • Training and performance will typically be better here
  • Can handle higher volume/load
  • Reduced breakdown of muscle tissue

Luteal Phase

  • Training will suffer here
  • Can handle lower volume/load
  • Impaired co-ordination
  • Lactate threshold is higher so can see more endurance
  • Lower intensity work (potential deload)

Lifestyle Consideration – Stress Management

If we look to this diagram again, we can see how stress affects the hypothalamus and then hypothalamus obviously that downstream effect will have an impact on everything below that and the feedback loops that come back into it.

Stress Hypothalamus Pituitary Ovaries - Understanding Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

We know that stress is required for adaptation and it’s completely a necessity in order for survival. But it’s just the management of it that we are interested. It’s acute versus chronic. So, if we look at the sympathetic system, we need it. We need it because it allows us to perform at our best. So, we require that, but we just don’t spend all of our time in it.

If we find that we have females who have chronic stresses, this could be anything from financial stresses, relationship stresses, job stresses, whatever it might be, then that’s going to be impacting all of the below. And that can have obviously an effect on hormonal profile and therefore an effect on their training, the nutrition. And then we can see that hypothalamic amenorrhea that we’ve mentioned before.

The key thing is to be encouraging females about ways to manage the stress as best as they possibly can. Because it will have that downstream effect.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a part of the peripheral nervous system that controls involuntary and automatic functions in the body. It plays a vital role in regulating various physiological processes necessary for maintaining internal balance and responding to changes in the environment.

Following is a picture of the autonomic nervous system overview, the sympathetic system, the parasympathetic system, and basically what’s happening as a result of those two things.

Autonomous Nervous System - Understanding Female Physiology for Better Training - Best Personal Trainers in Dubai - AbhiFit Lifestyle Coaching Co UAE

The autonomic nervous system consists of two main divisions:

  • Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS): The sympathetic nervous system is often associated with the “fight or flight” response. When activated, it prepares the body for emergencies or stressful situations. It increases heart rate, dilates the pupils, relaxes the bronchi in the lungs to increase oxygen intake, stimulates the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, and diverts blood flow to essential organs like the heart and muscles while reducing it in less critical areas such as the digestive system.
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS): The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with the “rest and digest” response. When active, it helps the body return to a state of relaxation and normal functioning after stress or excitement. It slows down heart rate, constricts the pupils, increases salivation and digestive activities, and promotes bowel and bladder emptying.

These two divisions of the autonomic nervous system often work in a complementary manner to maintain balance or homeostasis in the body. For instance, during stressful situations, the sympathetic nervous system is dominant, preparing the body for action. Once the stressor is gone, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over to return the body to a state of calm and recovery.

The autonomic nervous system regulates numerous physiological functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion, body temperature, and many others. It functions unconsciously, meaning we are not typically aware of its actions, and it helps ensure our body’s internal environment remains stable and responsive to changes in the external environment.

It’s important to note that the autonomic nervous system operates independently of conscious control. However, some individuals can develop control over certain aspects of the autonomic nervous system through practices such as meditation and biofeedback techniques.

So, if anybody suffered with anxieties or has had really big work stresses or whatever before, you’ll notice things like your appetite reduces, your appetite just shuts off because your body’s having a sympathetic response. It’s not thinking about feeding itself or getting enough fuel in the body to survive. It’s thinking about the next minute. And that leads us on to the sympathetic versus parasympathetic system. It’s often thought of like a seesaw. As sympathetic comes down, parasympathetic comes up, it is not, it’s more like a feeder.

We must actively reduce sympathetic stresses and we have to actively do things that encourage parasympathetic nervous system stimulation.

Conclusion

Understanding female physiology is crucial for personal trainers and coaches working with female clients. Here are some important points to consider:

  • Hormonal Fluctuations: Women experience monthly hormonal fluctuations due to their menstrual cycles. These hormonal changes can impact energy levels, mood & performance. Personal trainers and coaches should be aware of these cycles and be sensitive to the potential changes in performance or recovery during different phases.
  • Menstruation: Menstruation can affect hydration levels, energy levels, and nutrient needs. Personal trainers and coaches should create training and nutrition plans that account for these factors and provide support during this time.
  • Bone Health: Females are at a higher risk of developing bone-related issues like osteoporosis. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, along with weight-bearing exercises, are essential for maintaining healthy bones.
  • Strength Training: Contrary to a common misconception, strength training is highly beneficial for women and should be an integral part of their training routine. It helps improve bone density, metabolism, and overall performance.
  • Muscle Mass and Fat Distribution: Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat and lower muscle mass compared to men. Personal trainers and coaches should address body composition concerns in a healthy and supportive manner.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Women can experience specific cardiovascular issues. Personal trainers and coaches should monitor and address any symptoms related to heart health and promote cardiovascular exercise as part of their training.
  • Recovery and Sleep: Adequate rest and recovery are vital for performance improvement. Women may need more attention to recovery during certain phases of their menstrual cycle.
  • Nutrition: Women have specific nutrient needs that may differ from men, especially during pregnancy and lactation. Personal trainers and coaches should tailor nutrition plans to meet these requirements.
  • Hydration: Proper hydration is crucial for everyone, and females may have different hydration needs depending on their menstrual cycle and activity level.
  • Injury Prevention: Some injuries may be more common in females due to differences in anatomy and biomechanics. Personal trainers and coaches should be aware of these differences and implement injury prevention strategies accordingly.
  • Mental Health: Females may face unique mental health challenges, and personal trainers and coaches should foster a supportive and understanding environment. Addressing mental health concerns can positively impact performance and overall well-being.
  • Communication: Open and empathetic communication is essential when working with female clients. Encouraging feedback and discussing individual needs can lead to more effective coaching.

Overall, acknowledging and accommodating the physiological differences in females will result in better coaching outcomes, improved performance, and enhanced overall well-being.

Please contact me Abhinav Malhotra to learn what I and my team AbhiFit can do for you through personal training and nutrition services. We train kids, teens, adults, elders, athletes and models in Dubai and online across the UAE and around the world. We help our clients achieve their fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain, strength gain, rehab, figure / physique transformation & healthy living goals.

Many female and male clients including kids, teens, adults and elderly people have greatly benefited from Abhinav’s strong experience as the best personal trainer and nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. You can see some of our client transformations here here.

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References

Lyle McDonald’s “The Women’s Book” and “Beyond the Pill” by Jolene Brighten are both fantastic books and great resources about female physiology.

Client Transformations - Best Personal Training and Trainers in Dubai, UAE – Abhinav Malhotra, Team AbhiFit - 8 August 2022
Boosting Immunity through Diet and Exercise - Dubai UAE Best Personal Fitness Trainer Abhinav Malhotra

Calories in drinks Source.

About Author

Abhinav Malhotra

Abhinav Malhotra is an award-winning personal trainer, coach and sports nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. He also offers online services to clients around the world. A personal trainer par excellence, Abhi has worked with the world’s leading fitness chains, supplement brands and founded his own fitness academy in India. He has achieved successes for many clients from all backgrounds and has trained the Indian Army Rugby Team. He is the first International Kettlebell Sport athlete from India.

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