The training of the female weightlifter and the menstrual cycle

The training of the female weightlifter and the menstrual cycle
Oxsana Solonenko, MSIC, MS
Olymp 3:28-29: 2005
Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.
Sportivny Press©

The menstrual cycle exerts a significant influence over the training of the female athlete. It is important to take into account the female athlete’s functional state during the various phases of the ovulation cycle. You have to take into account the sportswoman’s functional state during the various stages of the ovulation-menstrual cycle when structuring the educational – training process.

Changes occur to the female organism during puberty in preparation for pregnancy. Cyclical alterations occur from the first day of the last menstruation up to the first day of the next. These cyclical alterations are divided into five phases: 1) menstruation, 2) post menstruation, 3) ovulation, 4) post ovulation, 5) pre – menstruation.

General changes to the general state of the female organism observed in addition in addition to the cyclical changes to the female sex organs. Many females experience fatigue and apathy prior to menstruation. They are high strung at workouts, exaggerate the complexity of exercises and complain of heaviness in the leg muscles. However, in the post menstrual phase the female organism has been observed to be “as good as new”. It has been established that women achieve higher sport results during the period between menstrual cycles/4/.

Various motor abilities change during the OMC in accordance with the phases of the cycles. It has been established that the dynamics of speed and strength rise and fall in accordance with the phases of the menstrual cycle and that strength is greater in the post – menstrual and post – ovulation phases, which correspond to the peek output of sex hormones. According to V. Geselyevitch’s data sportswomen achieve their highest results during days 15 – 25; in speed tests on days 8, 9, and 25; speed and strength on days 5,13,15 and precision of spatial movement on days 6-12 and 15 – 25 of OMC.

The negative affect of the “unfavorable phases” diminishes with the rising stage sport training /1/.

Experimental research on high class sportswomen that one can plan the loading in the various phases of the OMC accordingly: 1st phase 7 – 8%; 2nd phase 37 – 39%; 3rd phase 5 – 7%; 4th phase 39 – 41% and 5th phase 7-8% of the total loading for the meso – cycle /3/.

O.I. Kozlovsky /6/ established that the post – ovulation and post – menstrual phases are optimum for development of speed – strength, speed and endurance; speed – strength and speed can be developed during the menstrual phase; and, during the pre – menstrual phase a sub – maintenance regime is utilized.

V. D. Yeroshchev /5/ recommends restorative micro – cycles with aerobic and a mixed emphasis in the 1st, 3rd and 5th phases of the OMC during the preparatory period; base and shock micro – cycles with anaerobic and speed – strength emphasis in the 2nd and 4th phases of the OMC.

T.A. Kraus /7/ established that sportswomen whom are very “effeminate” have a characteristically prolonged OMC of 24 – 28 days; the affect of the OMC on the alterations in the subjective assessment of functional state is 56.5%. The length of the OMC is 26 – 30 days for sportswomen with a moderate “effeminate” level; the affect is 22.3%. Sportswomen with a low “effeminate” level have a OMC of 28 – 35 days; the affect is 15.5%.

It is most appropriate to coordinate the volume of loading strictly with the OMC phases for sportswomen with high “effeminate” levels when structuring the training meso – cycle. The largest variation of planning the large training volumes is possible with the group of sportswomen with low effeminate levels. A diminished loading is recommended in the menstrual and premenstrual periods of the OMC for distributing the loading of sportswomen with a moderate effeminate level.

Not infrequently a large physical loading disrupts the menstrual cycle, bringing it to a halt. That happens quite often with sportswomen.

It has been revealed that prolonged strength training causes a significant reduction in fat tissue and a smaller increase in muscle mass for women, because the androgens play a key role in the processes regulating muscle hypertrophy; which are found in significantly larger amounts in males. Therefore women need to do a significantly larger volume of strength loading than men, but with smaller weights. The harmful affect of strength exercises on the female organism diminishes if it is selective and local.

Research into the training of female weightlifters has confirmed the general effectiveness of strength training for women. As a whole, the volume of special loading of female weightlifters in the competition cycle exceeds that of their male counterparts by 1.35 times. The intensity of the loading in all exercise groups exceeds corresponding indices of the intensity for males. The reason being, that the specific strength development of individual muscle groups is of greater significance for women i.e., the use of repetitive maximums is extraordinarily more stressful for women than it is for men /2/.

It has been observed that the female organism has qualitatively greater adaptive capabilities /3/, such that multiple repetition of a single motor action inhibits the female development of motor qualities. Therefore, variable conditions for the exercises are recommended for women /8/.

All of these methods are recommended for developing the strength of females. It has been demonstrated that resistance exercises does not have a negative impact on the female state of health. It has also been observed, strength exercises proper have a slightly better carry over effect. Speed – strength exercises should supplement the educational – training process, making up approximately one – third strength exercises proper.

In conclusion, in sports where women compete strength and speed – strength are integral parts of the training to improve physical qualities sport results.

1. Geselyevitch, V., “Physiological peculiarities of the sportswoman’s body”, Olymp journal 2:36 -37:1993
2. Gisin, M., Lukashev, A., “Individulaized training of highly qualified female weightlifters”, Olymp journal, 2:26 – 29:1994.
3. Guba, V.P., Morpho – biomeachanical research in sport, Moscow, SportAkademPress, 120:2000.
4. Dubrovsky, V.I., Sport medicine:University textbook. Moscow, Gumanit publishers, Tsenter VLADOS, 480:1998.
5. Yeroshchev, V.D., “Individualization of training of qualified sprinters”, Dissertation, GTsOLIFK. Moscow, 23:1988.
6. Michaels, L., Jenkins, M., The Encyclopaedia of Sport Medicine S-PB., Lan publishers 400