A new research review sheds light on how monthly hormonal changes influence the risk of muscle damage during female weight lifting. The findings provide insight into how trainers can modify a strength conditioning program depending on which phase of her cycle a female client is in.

Published in The Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research (2020; doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003878), the review suggests that a woman’s natural changes in hormone levels during her monthly cycle can affect her risk of incurring exercise-induced muscle damage (in the form of delayed-onset muscle soreness and strength loss).

Study authors recommend that trainers consider using lower training loads or longer recovery intervals in the early follicular phase (day 1 of period to day 9), when hormone concentrations are lower and women may be more vulnerable to muscle damage. Strength training loads could then be increased in the midluteal phase (days 18–23), when injury risks are lower. Note: This is based on a 28-day cycle.

See also: Women and Strength Training