Fast Talk Femmes Podcast: How Hormone Fluctuation Affects Resistance Training – with Lauren Colenso-Semple

Find out if you should be resistance training in correlation with your menstrual cycle.

Fast Talk Femme EP 114 with Lauren

PhD candidate Lauren Colenso-Semple knows how to put her knowledge and science to practice as a strength and conditioning coach. In this episode, Lauren joins Fast Talk Femmes to talk about her recently published review paper where she investigates whether hormone fluctuations positively or negatively affect strength performance or adaptations to resistance training.

Find out what Lauren and her co-authors conclude in regard to training according to the menstrual cycle—whether it’s practical or effective, how it relates to the basic principles of training, and what it means for future research. Lauren also tells us what she thinks of the many period-tracking apps flooding the market right now, and if any have merit for tailoring training to your cycle.

Catch up on previous episodes of Fast Talk Femmes and subscribe for episodes on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsOvercastSoundcloudSpotifyStitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts! 

Episode Transcript

Dede Barry  00:05

Today we are super excited to have Lauren Colenso-Semple join us. She is a PhD candidate and deeply rooted in science and her work at McMaster University. But she also has the opportunity to put that knowledge and science into practice as a strength and conditioning coach. We will be chatting primarily about her recently published review paper, in which she investigates if hormone fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle positively or negatively affect resistance exercise training, we know that strength and conditioning has become a key component of conditioning and improved performance for endurance athletes, and we discuss the benefits of Strength Conditioning for endurance athletes in Episode 108 with Erin Carson. Lauren, Welcome to Fast Talk Femme.

Brittney Coffey  00:53

There are more female athletes in endurance sports than ever before. Get until recently, female athletes simply followed advice and protocols that had been designed and tested on men. This is rapidly changing and in our newest release from the Craft of Coaching with Joe Friel, we explore the art and science behind coaching female athletes with expert insights and advice from the likes of Dr. Stacey Sims, Alison Freeman, and Lauren valet. Check out the craft coaching module 12 coaching female athletes at fast talk labs today.

Julie Young  01:26

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you’ve been up to recently?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  01:30

Sure, I’m just finishing up my PhD at McMaster, and my work is really related to the topic of the research paper that we’ll be discussing today. I did one study looking at the muscle protein synthetic response to a short term bout of exercise in each phase of the menstrual cycle. And then I did a similar study looking at different oral contraceptive phases. So when you’re taking the active pills versus the the weaker, so when you take the placebo pills or the inactive hormone pills, and I also did some kind of extensive, longer term menstrual cycle tracking with blood tests, so to actually measure hormone levels, and evaluate the differences between individuals and then also within individuals from cycle to cycle. Prior to my time at McMaster, I earned a master’s degree from the University of South Florida, where I looked at the influence of resistance training, volume on resistance training induced adaptation, so strength and muscle growth. And prior to that, I worked in New York City as a strength coach and a group fitness instructor for several years. And before that, I got an undergrad degree in psychology and nutrition from the University of Buffalo. So my kind of interest in the science really started with my interest in wanting to be a good coach and wanting to be an evidence based practitioner. And then I became more and more interested in the field and decided to go back to school and pursue a graduate degree and really get a better understanding of what goes on in the lab while still trying to kind of keep some level of applicability to what goes on in the gym. That’s great. It sounds like you have a really wide range of practical experience and research that you’ve been working with. What motivated you to do this review paper? Well, initially, I was interested in doing research and women in general, because I’m sure is, as you know, women have been underrepresented in the literature for quite some time. And so often, we will kind of assume that the findings from a study that included a male population apply to a female population. And one of the reasons why women are often excluded from exercise science studies is because of the assumption that the ovarian hormones and the fluctuations they’re in throughout the menstrual cycle would have some influence on either the the adaptations to exercise if you’re thinking about a longer term study, or even acute performance if it’s kind of a single visit test. And so essentially, it’s just kind of easier to study men and not worry about the potential influence of the ovarian hormones. So my question really was, is it something that we should be concerned about? If so, how can we develop some some best practices to really account for that and annual standardize to the best of our ability so that we can be more inclusive and that we can do more studies on women?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  04:59

And if it’s not something that’s really going to have a major influence on our outcome measures, then maybe we can stop worrying about it. Because right now, it’s it’s just sort of this idea that oh, well, it might affect it. So let’s just not. And of course, you know, we try to control as many factors as we can in a study. But the real question is, do we need to be paying attention to this? And do we need to be concerned about it when we’re doing our testing and scheduling our participants and structuring their their training program in a research setting? Or can we start including men and women and women on hormonal contraceptives, and potentially all within the same study and not be concerned that there’s going to be that kind of confounding variable? So that was my major motivation to look into this research question? And what were your key findings and conclusions, the paper looked at meta analyses and systematic reviews. So the the purpose of meta analysis or systematic review is to really look at the body of the literature as a whole. And so we were looking at acute performance outcomes. So that would be is sort of like a single exercise test. And then also longer term adaptations to exercise. So that would be something like a two month or three month training program where we can measure, you know, your your strength at the beginning, and your strength at the end, or muscle size at the beginning or muscle size at the end, for example. And when we look at the literature as a whole, we note that the quality of the evidence is poor. And that there is not really  any indication that the menstrual cycle phase and those hormonal fluctuations will have a large influence on those outcomes that I mentioned earlier. And so for that reason, we recommended that, at least at this point, we should be focusing on making recommendations at on an individual level, as opposed to saying women should kind of structure their training program according to menstrual cycle phase. It does seem like it would make more sense based on what I read in your paper anyways, that it would make more sense to train on a more individual level and, and perhaps look at it along with you know, many other metrics, even on an individual level. In your paper, you noted only moderate to high quality studies were included in the analysis. And 90% of the studies found no difference in strength performance between menstrual cycle phases, can you help us understand what qualifies moderate to high quality studies? Yeah, so when we do a kind of quality assessment, we’re looking at things like risk of bias, we’re looking at how homogenous the population was that they studied. And certain things this in the exercise testing world, you might consider, oh, did they do some kind of a familiarization phase? Could that have influenced the testing day? How trained were these people? Have they never exercised before? Are they athletes? Is it a mix? In the context of studying menstrual cycle phase? Are you confirming where they are in their cycle? And are you doing that by confirming ovulation? Are you taking blood tests? Are you having people use urine articulatory strips to confirm where they are in their cycle? Are you including people who are on hormonal contraceptives? So those are all things that would make it a lower quality study because they the population is very different. You’re you’re not standardizing things as much as you could. And you’re you’re making kind of assumptions about where they are in their cycle as opposed to really verifying it. And that’s problematic because when we make conclusions based on studies that have kind of flawed methodologies, then we could be misinterpreting the data. And we wouldn’t want to put as much stock in a study that the maybe had had some some flaws. The other issue with this area of research in particular is using between Group Designs. So, if I have one group of people train in one phase and the other group of people train in another phase and then I compare the two groups, given how much variability there is between people, it is a much more solid design, in this case two to three

Lauren Colenso-Semple  09:59

Perform a within subject design and so have the same people come in twice, once in one phase and once in another phase. And then you can compare within the same individual as opposed to comparing between two individuals. So those are a few examples of what would influence the quality.

Julie Young  10:18

Lauren, in your paper also, you know, and I’m going to read this phrase, so I get it right. The only regularity of the menstrual cycle is its irregularity, a resistance exercise prescription based on this assumption that females all have a normal 28 day cycle is an arbitrary implementation of biweekly undulating periodization. Not menstrual cycle phase based training. Can you help us unpack this statement?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  10:46

Sure. So generally speaking, the average menstrual cycle is 28 days. And in a 28 day cycle, the average ovulation timing is day 14. So when we discuss menstrual cycle phase, we would say okay, in that context, the first two weeks are one phase. And the last two weeks are the other phase. And that’s divided by ovulation. So we have our pre ambulatory or the follicular phase, and then we move our post ovulatory or luteal phase. The problem is, or it’s not the problem, but it’s just the reality that their cycle length varies from maybe 21 days to 35 days. And ovulation timing also vary. So you can ovulate on day 11. Some people ovulate on day 21. And so if you are the person with a 28 day cycle and the day 14 ovulation, the end, you do some kind of a training program for those two weeks. And then if different kinds of training program for the next two weeks, you are implementing phase based training. But if you’re the person who ovulates on day 21, and you’re doing the training program for two weeks, and then the other training program for two weeks, you’re actually not implementing phase based training, because your first phase was 21 days, not 14 days. So by making the assumption that everybody has the same cycle length, and everybody has the same phase length, it is an arbitrary implementation of that phase based training. And instead, you’re just saying, Oh, well, I’ll do this for two weeks, and then that for two weeks. So it really isn’t necessarily applicable to every individual woman, even though on average, the the cycle length is 28 days, how does the individual out in the real world identify when they’re ovulating. The easiest and most cost effective way to do this is with a urine reactive strip. So they sell these at the drugstore. And people tend to use them for fertility purposes. And you can test them, you know, around the middle of your cycle and take a test per day or in some cases, people will need to test multiple times per day, just because the length of the surge in luteinizing hormone, which is detected in that urine is it can last for a day. And in some cases, it can last for maybe two days. But in some people, it only lasts for you know, a few hours. And so it can be a bit easy to miss if you don’t take multiple tests. But generally speaking, people who use them at home are using them for for fertility purposes, not for the purposes that we’re discussing today. But I did use them in my work, because as I’ve I’ve discussed it, I think it’s really important that you verify the ovulation timing because otherwise, you’re assuming that you’re testing in a certain phase or of their cycle, but you haven’t verified that. And so the other thing we’ll do in the research setting is bloodwork and then we can actually confirm the blood hormone levels at different parts of the menstrual cycle seems very tricky for the person in the real world to find that ovulation as you as you say, like you could miss it easily. Yeah, you know, it’s it’s possible, but whether it’s practical is a bit debatable. But I think more importantly, does it make sense? Is it beneficial? And I don’t really think we’re there yet. Because I think that when we look at the potential influence of the menstrual cycle on performance, and although these hormones, we’re looking at a very small effect, if any. And so I think that to kind of even if you do determine when you ovulate and you do know your cycle length, then when you drastically adjust your training one way or another for a subset

Lauren Colenso-Semple  15:00

Daniel part of the month, you could be could be detrimental to your progress and your training. And there really isn’t a good rationale for that, at least on a broad scale.

Julie Young  15:12

You know, Lauren, in our first episode we, we chatted with Jen psycho. And we spoke about whether endurance athletes should train to their menstrual cycle or not. And I think what concerns me as a coach and former athlete is giving so much control and power to the menstrual cycle, in that I think it can really toy with an athlete’s confidence, which we know is so critical to performance. You know, for example, if that athlete gets to a really important key event, and they find like, oh, my gosh, I’m not in this optimal point of my menstrual cycle for performance, I think it’s becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. What do you think about that?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  15:54

Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, I think we also just have to keep in mind that there aren’t a lot of indicators for us to sit here and say, I know I’m in my my luteal phase, unless I’m using an app. And maybe I know what day of the cycle I’m on. It isn’t as if you feel one way, during one phase or the other. The only example of that is if you have menstrual symptoms, which generally would occur, you know, at the very end of the cycle, or at the very beginning of the cycle. And those are very common, and we’re talking about things like abdominal cramps, or fatigue, it can influence your motivation to train. And so I think that when we talk about maybe what to keep in mind, when we’re evaluating our training or discussing obsession with the coach, then sure, it might be valuable to share that, oh, you know, I started my period yet today, I’m not feeling great. And then maybe when you look back at your training log, you can see oh, you know, maybe my, my RPE was unusually high, just because I didn’t really feel well, I had cramps that day, you know, I think that is a different conversation, because maybe we would adjust one session, or maybe we would not pay as much attention to one data point when we’re reviewing our training log. But that is very different than doing kind of these wholesale changes for weeks at a time based on the fact that the hormonal profile is going to be different, you know, in one phase or the other.

Julie Young  17:32

And I think, as you know, you know, just focusing more on getting to know yourself as an individual. And both Jen Psycho and then we subsequently interviewed Dana LIS, said the same things. And I think that’s valuable is empowering that athlete with that understanding, but also strategies to mitigate, you know, so they’re more in control, as opposed to the menstrual cycle being in control.

Lauren Colenso-Semple  17:55

I also think that doing this can really overcomplicate things for women unnecessarily so and so yes, if you’re not on hormonal contraceptives, then for the most part, you’re going to have a menstrual cycle. And maybe you you have menstrual symptoms associated with that one or two days a month. But otherwise, I don’t see the value in setting here and kind of obsessing over it. And when we probably should be paying more attention to a host of other variables that are going to influence our progress. And whether that is the training program itself, or nutrition, or stress or sleep or other lifestyle factors. I think that the menstrual cycle is just one small piece of a much bigger picture. And and if you’re going to view your athlete as a whole person, then yeah, you can it’s it’s important to know whether they have a menstrual cycle or if they’re on contraceptives, or their Peri menopausal or they’re pregnant. But it’s also important to know many other factors that will influence their training and their progress.

Dede Barry  19:06

I think that’s really good advice, just, you know, tracking it, but not letting it become a distraction, just letting it be one of the many metrics that you that you track. That makes a lot of sense. I’d be curious, Lauren, I know the review paper that you did focused on female reproductive hormones and whether they influenced resistance exercise adaptations and performance outcomes, but has any other research that you’ve been doing focused on female reproductive hormones, and whether they positively or negatively influence injury risks during resistance training? I haven’t personally

Lauren Colenso-Semple  19:41

done that research, but there is some out there. There was a meta analysis that came out this year I think in January, the author’s dos Santos, I can send you a link to that. But they made really similar conclusions to to us in the in the injury risk area. Maria, in the sense that the studies are pretty low quality. So as I mentioned earlier, things like doing using those between Group Designs, including people who are on hormonal contraceptives, not verifying actual cycle phase or ovulation timing. So they definitely highlighted the poor quality of the research that’s out there. And they also just concluded that there there’s insufficient evidence at this point, to suggest that the menstrual cycle phase does influence injury risk one way or another. And the rationale for that is that these hormone levels will influence collagen formation, and collagen formation is really slow process. So we also have to think, when we look at the time course of hormonal fluctuations, in a given cycle, we’re thinking about increases and decreases over a period of days. And so for that kind of short term, increase or decrease in one hormone or another, to then influence a really slow process, like collagen turnover, is they would have to be really powerful. So I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the jury’s definitely still out on.

Brittney Coffey  21:20

Hi, listeners, we’re so excited that you’re here to check out fast talk them a new podcast series, it’s all about the female endurance athlete. Here at fast talk labs. We pride ourselves on being the pioneers of information and education in the endurance sports world for both athletes and coaches. If you like what you hear today, check out more at fast talk

Julie Young  21:44

Lauren, I want to talk just kind of big picture now. And just this this drive for female specific research. And it’s my understanding that the main drive for this female specific research has been largely driven by the near parity of female to male athletes at the Olympics, and female athletes and their coaches demanding more female specific research to inform their decision making and training. Do you agree with this? Or do you feel there are other factors involved driving this interest in female specific research?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  22:17

Well, I think we should be interested in including females in research, because they’re half the population. So we should be just as interested in researching women as we are in researching men. From a coaching perspective, I think the research is important. And it’s useful as a starting point. But when we are looking at athletes, particularly at an elite level, we are going to be doing a lot of really individualized programming. So the body of literature is a great starting point at the group level, because research reports group level averages, but with all exercise studies, we see a huge variability in the response to whatever it is. And so there are there are people who will gain much, much more strength than everybody else in the study. And so but we’ll report the average. And so we’ve gotten to the point of including individual data points, which is really valuable in when we look at figures because you can see these higher and lower responders to exercise training. And when we think about the elite athletes, who are those higher responders, them, perhaps they are going to require some coaching that is outside the norm, because they’re not that median responder. So I do think that that is something to keep in mind. But we should be doing research in women to confirm that there are or aren’t sex based differences that we need to be paying attention to. And I think that’s true, you know, across the board and in all sorts of fields, not just in exercise science.

Dede Barry  24:08

Lord, can you explain to our listeners how and why research projects become increasingly more complex when you’re studying female physiology?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  24:18

Yeah, when we look at male sex hormones, they fluctuate a little bit throughout the day. But if you look at a period of a month, then they’re pretty stable. And so I could bring in men at week one or week three or week four, and I wouldn’t be concerned that their hormonal profile is very different. When we are looking at women who are not on hormonal contraceptives, the first week or so of the menstrual cycle, all the sex hormones are low, and then we see an increase in estradiol that peaks right Wait before ovulation, an ovulation is characterized by a surge in luteinizing hormone. And then in the post ovulate Tory phase we see an increase in progesterone, and then estradiol is kind of moderately high, then both hormones decrease, and we start again. So if we think about that on a roughly four week timeframe, if I bring somebody in, and week one, when the hormones are low versus I bring someone in, in the middle of the cycle where estradiol is super high, or I bring someone in the last week of the cycle where estrogen and progesterone are high, then there is a different hormonal profile in play. The extent to which that’s important, is still unclear. But the reason why it’s complicated is if we’re trying to standardize everybody it and have and bring them in, you know, in a similar phase of the cycle or Day of the cycle, then we need to have them track ahead of time. So we need to be aware that they have a regular cycle, and that we know approximately the length of the cycle. And we need to be aware of when they ovulate. So we know that if I’m bringing you in on day 13, and you ovulate on day 14, I know I’m can probably predict that estradiol will be high when I bring you in. Now the difficulty with this is not only is there substantial variability between individuals in terms of their cycle length, and when they ovulate, the magnitude of those hormonal fluctuations is variable as well. And so for some people, they have a really big spike in estradiol, and some people, it’s just a little bit. And so when you look at a textbook example of menstrual cycle hormonal fluctuations, you’re you’re going to see tremendous variability and in the real version of that, when you look at the hormonal profiles of individual women from month to month, so all that to say, if you are going to try to standardize this and verify this, then it’s more work. It’s more money. And it’s more time because you have to do all this kind of planning and work and scheduling that you wouldn’t have to do if you either weren’t paying attention to hormonal profile, or you were studying men,

Julie Young  27:33

Lauren, I think it’s easy for us, for those of us that are outside the science world or research world when we see something that’s like science based to kind of think of that as gospel. And as you point out that the major issue with the current available female research is that it lacks quality. But I think even before, you know, as you’ve started to talk about the complexities of that female specific research that additional complexity, I think it’s important for us outside the science world to understand the challenges you’re up against as a researcher in producing that high quality work in terms of funding, controlling the variables, recruiting participants, can you just give us a an idea of of those challenges you’re up against? Yeah, you

Lauren Colenso-Semple  28:20

know, generally speaking, there’s not a lot of funding for research in healthy populations. And so the funding is generally reserved for disease populations are aging. And so the extent to which we can conduct research that really is applicable to athletes is a bit limited. Now, when we’re recruiting from a university setting, we obviously have a lot of students available to us from which to recruit. But depending on the availability of the lab, and how it’s staffed and how much funding you can get it, not only are you limited to the length of time you can conduct a study, you’re also going to be limited by the number of tests you can do the number of outcomes you can measure, because all of those analyses are expensive to test somebody’s blood hormones, it’s expensive to scan somebody in a DEXA costs money if you want to use an MRI cost even more money. So there are certain things that that you can do, you know, relatively inexpensively, like track your heart rate, or measure scale weight or do an exercise test. But when we start to look into more invasive procedures, so in our lab, we do muscle biopsies, for example. It’s more invasive, and it costs money and it takes a lot of time to actually do all of the analysis associated with with a muscle tissue. And it’s also a recruitment barrier because some people aren’t up for for having muscle biopsies done. So, you know, I think there are there are multiple factors Is that going to the challenges, and I think a lot of people don’t really understand is how long it all takes. So from kind of the study design phase to getting approval from ethics, to then recruiting a sufficient number of people that fit the criteria that you’ve set, and then actually doing all of your data collection doing all your data analysis and the writing, you know, this takes a year, two years, three years. It’s a it’s a slow, slow process.

Dede Barry  30:33

Yeah. It seems like in the US sports performance research is often funded by companies that have a financial interest in developing products. I wonder if you think some of the frenzy for female specific research is driven by commercial motives right now?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  30:50

I think there’s some of that you’re right. You know, and, as I said before, it’s difficult to get federal funding for exercise research in Healthy People. And so often labs will lean on funding from a supplement companies is generally the go to in the kind of female specific space, there are menstrual cycle tracking apps, there are devices that say that they will tell you when you ovulate, they can’t do that. They’re using a prediction. They’re not very good. But I think that the exercise and nutrition industry is certainly motivated by money. And I think that a lot of the kind of females specific training programs or nutritional programs are certainly more rooted in a desire to sell products than to deliver a truly kind of evidence based high quality service to the

Dede Barry  31:54

consumer. Lauren, now that so much attention has been focused on female athletes, we’re seeing more and more female specific products, such as the AI apps that are guiding training based on the menstrual cycle, do you feel that these apps have merit?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  32:09

No, not really. Because, as I’ve said, several times, at this point during the conversation, if you don’t verify the timing of your ovulation, you don’t know which cycle phase you’re in. And any kind of app is going to predict the timing of your ovulation based on the length of your cycle. So like I said, a 28 day cycle, typically day 14 ovulation. If you have a longer cycle, they’ll predict that you ovulate later. But I have collected ovulation data from many, many people over many, many months. And a guarantee would just doesn’t work like that for everybody. For some people, yes. But for others, those app predictions will be way off. And so it’s a gimmick, in my opinion, because not only are there a lot of assumptions made when you structure a training program, according to you know, quote, your menstrual cycle. And the kinds of recommendations that I see are things like during this phase, you should only be doing yoga and light stretching. And then during the other phase, you can lift some weights. And that to me, just really doesn’t make sense. Because when you think about how you’re going to make progress, and develop adherence and sustainability in any kind of training program, you need to be doing something consistently, so to say, Oh, well, because you’re a woman, you you’re only allowed to do this for two weeks, and then you have to take it easy for the rest of the month. Just it’s it’s counterproductive, in my opinion.

Julie Young  33:48

Yeah, we were chatting actually, about that with Jen psycho. And it does seem like you kind of missed the basic principles of training, if you’re to follow this tapT.

Lauren Colenso-Semple  33:59

Exactly. And when we look at the biggest kind of evidence based principles that we have things like your training volume, and doing something to progress over time. So in the resistance exercise world that would be adding a set or trying to do more reps or adding load, then those are the main building blocks of a sound training program that will give you results over time. So trying to implement something that is kind of completely counterintuitive to that doesn’t make a lot of sense to

Julie Young  34:34

me, Lauren, I am I’m not a data scientist. So I’m definitely veering out of my lane here. But I was listening to a podcast with Dr. Steven Siler, who’s a researcher and sport physiologist, and he was mentioning ways to kind of work around those more prohibitive lab studies since they are so costly. And he had mentioned ways such as crowdsourcing using social media as a call to action to recruit participants, and data scraping from existing platforms, like training peaks that are collecting large amounts of data, do you see these as potential ways to research women’s specific issues?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  35:17

I think that there’s value in all types of research. And so we look at something like a clinical trial, which is as controlled as we can get. And we try to manipulate a particular variable by kind of keeping other things as similar as we can and answer a research question that way. But there’s also certainly value in doing more kind of qualitative assessments or looking at large scale epidemiological data. And so I think that it all fits together to give us a real picture, because although the clinical trial allows us to have the most control, it also is the least kind of free living, real world setting. And so if, for example, when you when people do diet studies, and you live in a ward for six weeks, and they control everything that you eat, and all of your activity, that is a really tight design for a diet, but it has very little translation to free living conditions where people are going to be out in the world and around food and going to restaurants. So we it’s kind of a push and pull between controlling as many things as we can, and the real world applicability of the study design, and therefore the results. So I think it’s interesting to potentially use some of those apps or the crowdsourcing. And I think there’s certainly value to the athlete in volunteering to participate in a study like that, because if nothing else, you’ll learn a bit more about yourself. And I think it could also highlight a lot of these individual differences that that we’ve discussed today. Because the more data points that that you get, the more you can kind of see the spread and that variability. But I think that the downside of that type of design is that nothing is is really easy to standardize. And although we can assess maybe relationships, and it would be really good exploratory analysis, we’re probably not going to be able to come to any real definitive conclusions from that kind of work,

Julie Young  37:38

it makes sense to use all the information you have, as you pointed out, like the in lab studies and these kind of avenues just to build that picture. And I also agree, I think that’s kind of a great idea, as you said, for athletes to be involved in these studies. So they learn more on an individual basis. Yeah, absolutely.

Lauren Colenso-Semple  37:56

You know, when you think about a case study, the disadvantage of that is it’s just one person. But the advantage of that is you can do so much with just one person, you can get tons and tons and tons of data from that one individual. And so of course, the extent to which it applies to other people is, we don’t know. But there is value to all of this. And the more data we get, the more types of data we get the the more complete of a picture, we can start to form.

Julie Young  38:25

You know, Lauren, I was thinking you’re in such a unique position, because you have one foot firmly in science and one foot firmly in practice, and kind of thinking about this kind of case study idea. Do you find yourself in your practice as a strength and conditioning coach experimenting on yourself or with athletes to determine if there’s a greater response to the strength work in a specific phase of the menstrual cycle?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  38:51

I’ve never done that, because I don’t think there’s enough evidence to support doing that. And like I said, I think there’s probably more downside than potential benefit. So I’ve never done that. And as a coach, I really like to tailor my program to the individual athlete and there’s so many elements that go into a successful program, you know, what’s a good program on paper for one person won’t necessarily be the best program for another person. And that can be due to a whole host of factors, you know, their, their goals, their starting point, their preferences, their motivation, their availability. And so I do try to be as you know, quote, evidence based as I can in my in my coaching, but I also am aware and I’m sure you are too, you know, with your experience coaching athletes that you need to listen and communicate and view them as, as a complete individual over time and expect them to give you feedback so that you can really set them up for success in all l Men and have the program and adapt as needed.

Dede Barry  40:04

Lauren to wrap up, can you provide us with their top three actionable pieces of advice for women whose strength train?

Lauren Colenso-Semple  40:11

Yeah, I’d say structure a program that aligns with your goals, that would be the first one. And the second, I’d say master exercise technique, and then implement some sort of progression over time. So whether that’s aiming to get a little bit stronger, or aiming to do another set, or a few more repetitions, so that you are you’re constantly pushing yourself to edit, and that will help you meet your goals, assuming your goals are our strength gain and muscle growth or body composition changes. But I think it’s really important to be goal specific, more so than sex specific, those would be my advice to men and women. And what I see with a lot of these kinds of female specific training programs or recommendations is that they either tell you that as a woman, Your Goals should be different. So you know, you should be doing more glute exercises because you’re a woman. Or they will say, Well, you’re going to be too intimidated to go to the gym. So you should be doing bodyweight exercises at home with my app. And I wish we would kind of move away from that culture, because it feels really exclusive and discouraging. And so I’d say instead, we should focus on the things that we all have in common, which, in terms of those those basic building blocks, those basic exercise recommendations, those are applicable to both sexes, and we should be encouraging women to train according to their goals and to make progress over time, and not kind of dumb down things or make it less challenging or have them stay home. I think we need to be encouraging women to exercise in you know, whatever way is conducive to their goals.

Dede Barry  42:22

That’s really great advice. Yeah. Thank you,

Julie Young  42:24

Lauren. Really appreciate your message and your consistency and clarity on this issue.

Lauren Colenso-Semple  42:30

Thanks so much.

Julie Young  42:31

Yeah, been great to have you and really do appreciate you taking time. It was a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you.

Dede Barry  42:39

That was another episode of Fast Talk Femme. Subscribe to Fast Talk Femme. Wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk Femme are those of the individual. As always, we’d love your feedback, and any thoughts you have on topics or guests that may be of interest for you get in touch via social. You can find us @fasttalklabs on Twitter and Instagram @fasttalklabs where you’ll also find all our episodes. You can also check them out on the web at For Lauren Colenso-Semple, and Julie Young. I’m Dede Barry. Thank you for listening!