The Female Athlete!!!

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

Hello Triathletes

Over the past week I as lucky enough to attend the Annual Training Peaks Endurance summit.

Over the week I had the opportunity to mingle with some of the top coaches and entrepreneurs in the industry.

One particular topic caught my attention, Training female athletes. This talk was delivered by Dr Stacy Sims author of ROAR. The book highlights the female athlete struggle to reach their full potential based on inaccurate guidelines and much more. ROAR is a comprehensive, physiology-based nutrition and training guide specifically designed for active women, with practical take homes so you can work with, rather than against, your female physiology.

In this blog I wanted to highlight the main differences between males and females, the menstrual cycle and its effects. This area warrants many more blogs which I am excited to write and investigate.

Key Differences to note:

· Woman tend to have smaller frames.

· Women have a higher proportion of type I muscle fibre type as opposed to males who have a higher type II.

· Women tend to be less strong in the upper body generally and stronger in their legs. Yet in comparison to males less strong overall.

· Essential fat in males vrs females is 4% and 12% respectively.

· Women tend to have smaller hearts and lungs, which can effect VO2.

· Women lack the ability to produce as much testosterone as males.

· Due to the hormone estrogen women tend to utilize fuel at different rates than males. Woman tend to prefer fat and spare glycogen which is not ideal when pushing hard. This can be very unfavorable at certain times in the menstrual cycle when estrogen is higher. This difference means that females tend to match males in for ultra style events.

· Women tend to sweat out more sodium than males.

· When progesterone is high it reduces the ability to rebuild and grow muscles after a training session.

As you can see there are a vast number of factors to take into consideration. Dr Stacy Sims states that “we’re very trainable, and that we may not be able to match similar sized males in speed, strength and absolute endurance, but we are not far off.

The Menstrual cycle

The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days. It is broken up into distinct phases.

The Follicular phase- starts on the first day of your period. Hormones estrogen and progesterone are low at this time .

The Luteal phase- this phase typically starts at day 15 through 28. At this time estrogen and progesterone are high. Blood plasma can drop up to 8 percent during this high-hormone luteal phase of your period.

This can affect things such as hydration and thermoregulation. HIIT Sessions may seem more challenging and recovery from hard sessions is more challenging.

The good thing is though that you can apply strategies that can counteract these unwanted side effects by tailoring nutrition, specifically timing your protein and hydration correctly.

The main take home is to understand your cycle and adjust your training expectations, hydration, nutration and recovery accordingly.

Until next week stay healthy

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