High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has emerged as a popular and effective form of exercise for individuals seeking efficient workouts with significant health benefits. However, recent studies have shed light on the potential influence of the menstrual cycle on women’s responses to HIIT, prompting fitness professionals to reevaluate training strategies to better cater to their female clients.

The Impact of Menstrual Cycle Phases on Psychophysiological Responses to HIIT

A study by Chavan et al. (2024) delved into the psychophysiological responses of women to HIIT across different phases of the menstrual cycle. This exploratory study involved 23 physically active young women who completed HIIT sessions during their menstrual, follicular, and luteal phases. The researchers measured variables such as anxiety, mood, motivation, enjoyment, arousal, affect, and menstrual distress.

Findings revealed that participants experienced heightened symptoms such as pain, water retention, and behavioural changes during the menstrual phase, leading to poorer psychological responses to HIIT compared to other phases. However, despite these challenges, HIIT was found to effectively improve motivation and depressive symptoms across all menstrual phases.

Practical Tips for Fitness Professionals:

  1. Individualised Approach: Recognise that women may experience varying responses to HIIT based on their menstrual cycle phase. Tailor workouts and provide additional support during the menstrual phase when symptoms may be more pronounced.
  2. Mind-Body Connection: Emphasise the importance of mindfulness and mental resilience during HIIT sessions, particularly during challenging phases of the menstrual cycle.
  3. Monitoring and Communication: Encourage open communication with clients about their menstrual cycle and any symptoms they may experience. Regular check-ins can help adjust workouts accordingly.

Understanding Physiological Responses to HIIT Across Menstrual Cycle Phases

In a separate study, Chavan et al. (2023) investigated the physiological responses of women to HIIT during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Twenty-five eumenorrheic women participated in HIIT sessions during menstruation, the luteal phase, and the follicular phase. Key variables measured included arousal, affect, enjoyment, motivation, exertion, and heart rate.

Results indicated that while psychological variables such as motivation, enjoyment, and affect remained consistent across menstrual cycle phases, heart rate displayed phase-dependent variations, with higher rates observed during the luteal phase. However, HIIT was found to induce changes in psychological responses across all sessions.

Practical Tips for Fitness Professionals:

  1. Heart Rate Monitoring: Utilise heart rate monitoring during HIIT sessions to track physiological responses and adjust intensity levels accordingly, especially during the luteal phase when heart rate tends to be higher.
  2. Adaptability in Programming: Design flexible training programmes that accommodate fluctuations in physiological responses across menstrual cycle phases, ensuring workouts remain challenging yet sustainable.
  3. Holistic Approach: Incorporate recovery strategies and stress-management techniques into training protocols to support overall wellbeing and optimise performance throughout the menstrual cycle.

Enhancing Psychological Responses Through HIIT

In a study by Prado et al. (2023), researchers investigated the psychological responses of women to HIIT before and after exercise across menstrual cycle phases. Similar to previous studies, participants completed HIIT sessions during menstruation, the luteal phase, and the follicular phase, with measures including menstrual distress, mood state, anxiety, and motivation.

Results revealed a significant decrease in depression post-exercise during the luteal and menstrual phases, along with increased motivation levels across all phases. However, participants reported heightened pain, behavioural changes, and autonomic reactions during the menstrual phase.

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Practical Tips for Fitness Professionals

  1. Post-Exercise Support: Offer post-exercise support and encouragement, particularly during phases associated with heightened psychological distress, such as the menstrual phase.
  2. Motivational Strategies: Implement motivational techniques and positive reinforcement to help clients maintain enthusiasm and commitment to HIIT workouts, especially when experiencing fluctuations in motivation across menstrual cycle phases.
  3. Educational Resources: Provide educational resources and information about the menstrual cycle to empower clients with knowledge and understanding of how their bodies respond to exercise throughout different phases.

Understanding the interplay between the menstrual cycle and HIIT is crucial for fitness professionals aiming to optimise training outcomes for female clients. By incorporating tailored approaches, monitoring physiological responses, and fostering open communication, fitness professionals can empower women to harness the full potential of HIIT while navigating the complexities of the menstrual cycle.


Chavan, M. A., Prado, R. C. R., Ashley, C. D., Barrows, A. H., McClugage, C. L., & Kilpatrick, M. W. (2023). Impact Of Menstrual Cycle Phase On Acute Psychophysiological Responses During High-Intensity Interval Training Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 55(9S), 786. Click here to review the full research article

Optimised HIIT Training for Women’s Health

Enhance your training capabilities with the TRAINFITNESS T3 High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programme. This course equips fitness professionals with cutting-edge strategies to effectively implement HIIT. Recent research highlights the need for tailored HIIT approaches during different menstrual phases, emphasising adjustments for optimal performance and comfort. Explore this dynamic training opportunity here.

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