Strictly for the Ladies

By Nicole Littlest Lim

After months of training on a terrible plateau, Dave and I sat down and did some serious thinking regarding what makes my training different from the boys and how to make it better.  What do I have that the boys don’t besides great hair, good hygiene, awesome personality, brains, common sense...  Eventually we thought to work with my hormones and, that’s right, MY PERIOD.  After some research and some testing, we had success with timing my training progressions and deloads with my menstrual cycle.

Here’s a brief review of our lovely Aunt Flow:

  • Day 1 - 14: The Follicular Phase

    • Begins with menstruation.

    • During this phase, our hormone levels are not ideal for maximal training.  We are more likely to have more sensitive reactions to stress, decreased reaction time, increases in perceived rate of exertion, and mood swings! Am I right?!

  • Around Day 14: Ovulation

    • Hormone levels influence increased strength levels.

    • Decreased collagen production increases risk of injury.  We need to be more aware of our bodies during this phase.

  • Day 15 - 28: The Luteal Phase

    • During this phase, our bodies are appropriate for the linear weight progression of our weightlifting programs.

Now, for the nitty gritty.  If you would like to implement the same training progression, here’s how:

1. Continue with linear weight progression for Weeks 1 and 2 of the training cycle.

  • These weeks should correspond with your Luteal Phase.

2. Week 3 will indicate a Deload week.

  • This should correspond with menstruation, the beginning of the Follicular Phase.
  • Week 1 numbers prescribed.
  • Snatch and clean and jerk exercises will maintain rep scheme.
  • Strength exercises will remove one working set.

3. Week 4 will implement discretionary maxes.

  • Day 7-14 of the Follicular Phase.  This phase should end with ovulation, when strength levels are highest.
  • Work up to a heavy set AS TOLERATED per exercise.
  • Discretionary maxes will require accountability for and attentiveness to your body! Risk for injury is increased due to decreased collagen production.

***Following this progression option will require calendar timing.***  If you are going to pursue this option, we recommend continuing this current cycle through menses and discretionary max week.  That means you may be behind in the micro cycles and the leaderboard will no longer be accurate.  After max week, progress to next cycle week 1 and you should be on track.

If you’d like to continue with our regular progression, it is as follows:

Traditional linear progression:

Continue linear weight progression as prescribed for weeks 1-3

Deload during week 4 with week 1 numbers.

  • Snatch and clean and jerk exercises will maintain rep scheme.
  • Strength exercises will remove one working set.

This topic is still under researched, especially in Olympic weightlifting as it is a relatively new sport for women.  This training progression has given me and other women following this template several opportunities to pull on PR's and increase body awareness.  As athletes, we have the responsibility to be accountable for ourselves and our bodies.  Our goal is to help you create as much successful training as possible.  I encourage you to give this progression a trial run for a couple cycles and really focus on self-monitoring how you feel and how you train. Keep on grinding, and good luck, gals!

Join the CS Women's (+63kg) OR (-63kg) Team today!