Almost everything you know about…developing training programs…are based on the schedules of men…
This week’s guest on Sparta Chicks Radio will challenge you to cast aside everything you thought you knew about training, racing, nutrition and recovery.
And as someone who has been coaching since 2011, that’s hard to admit!
But the more I dive into her work and implement it first in my own life and then with my clients, the more I see the truth in it and the results it brings.
Dr Stacy Sims is an environmental exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at the University of Waikato in NZ.
She’s an incredible athlete in her own right too, having competed at the Hawaii Ironman in Kona as well as the Xterra (Off-Road Triathlon) World Championships in Maui.
And she’s the author of an important book called Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health and a Strong, Lean Body for Life.
At the core of Stacy’s work is the concept that women are not small men.
It seems obvious, I know!
However the majority of sports science research - and a result, the majority of what we understand about the best way to train, eat, drink, race and recover - has been done on men.
Even the common training program structure of 3 weeks of training followed by 1 week of recovery is - you guessed it! - based on research done on men, without any regard for the hormonal changes experienced by women each and every month.
Yet given that every system in our body changes across the month (not just our hormones), it’s hard and frustrating to believe this “shrink it and pink it” approach has also been applied to sports science.
But unfortunately, it has! We’ve been taught to train, eat, drink, race and recover the same way as men!
I honestly believe (and I have started telling anyone and everyone who will listen to me) Stacy’s book is required reading for all women, as well as for anyone who works with women (coaches, personal trainers, group fitness instructors, pilates instructors, yoga instructors, physios, massage therapists etc).
In this conversation we discuss:
* why everything we thought we knew about periodised training programs is not appropriate for women,
* what happens during the menstrual cycle and the types of training and recovery that are appropriate throughout the different stages,
* what metrics you should track in addition to your training,
* why your FTP (functional threshold power) is different throughout the month,
* what you can do to reduce the severity of your PMS symptoms,
* what to do if an important race occurs during your period,
* why she doesn’t recommend using an oral contraceptive pill to skip your period (and the impact it can have on your performance),
* why it’s so important to include heavy strength training, power training & plyometrics in your program (and I’m sorry but a Pump class isn’t enough),
* the changes that happen during peri-menopause and menopause and how it affects every system in your body,
* why you should consume protein before and after your key training sessions,
* why you should NOT include berries in your post-workout recovery snack,
* why she doesn’t recommend LCHF, paleo or keto diets for women,
* why you should keep your hydration and nutrition separate and avoid the commercial products on the market that are too high in carbohydrate (‘food in the pocket, fluid in the bottle’), and
* the top 3 things you should start implementing straight away.
Plus I’ll share my homework and what I’m going to implement for some public accountability (and since we recorded this conversation, I’ve already ticked #1 off my list!).
We cover a lot of information in this episode, so you might need to listen to it again.
Or better yet, read the book!
As I said, this is a pretty profound book that will challenge everything you thought you knew.
And while I haven’t told them yet 😉 this book will be required reading for all the athletes I work with, going forward.
Notes and resources: