HELP- Training with PCOS - Ovarian Cysts

Hey Ladies,

I originally posted this in the Beginners section, it got a lot of looks but no replys, so I’m trying again in here…I hope you can advise!

THis one’s a bit out of left field but I have a new client just started with me and she suffers from PCOS. First time I’ve come across it, I’ve done some reading up on it and there seems to be a lot of mixed messages.

Anyone ever worked with someone like this or have any of the women on here got it and trained with it?
My client is 27, she weighs 220lbs (100kg) and only 1.57cm tall (5’4?) - 51% body fat!

It’s her first week and I’ve put her on a 5 day a week program.
3 days total body bodyweight work
2 days steady state cardio
Restricted her to 1600kcal a day, with a ratio of 45% protein, 30% carbs and 25% fats.

After the first two weeks bodyweight training I will bring in the free weights and compound moves. Possibly adding an HIIT session into her cardio every other week instead of steady state cardio.

ANy ideas or suggestions?


what did your research tell you? you said it was conflicting, so tell us both sides.

[quote]CBear84 wrote:
what did your research tell you? you said it was conflicting, so tell us both sides.

The main conflict is to do with diet. Some are saying follow the normal guidelines of a higher carb diet, like the government tends to push, but they say because PCOS sends scrambled signals to the brain about how to proces protein. The other says that higher protein is required because the hormones are so out of sorts that carbs cause havoc with insulin responses and turn to fat a lot easier.
She has tried the higher carb before and it didn’t work, but at the same time she used to smoke, drink too much which causes even more hormonal scrambling with PCOS.

As for training - she is a typical believer of the “womens place is on a treadmill”, which I’m trying to get her out of. Again most of the articles I read tended to focus more on diet and just went with the average womens magazine stuff of do some cardio and bicep curls with 2kg dumbbells!

My stance on it now she has kicked the smoking and a lot of the drinking is to get her used to working with her bodyweight to fire up core, stabilisers and all prime movers. Then start to introduce compound moves with weights to increase lean mass and kick her metabolism into over drive. While her fitness levels are still low get her doing longer steady state cardio then start getting some HIIT in there.
As for diet I believe the ratio I said originally should pay dividends when combined with her training. Especially seeing as that has provided great results for many, including myself and the conflicting reports on what diet to use with PCOS.

Hoping to find some other women, who train hard and know about PCOS to enlighten me with their results and methods.

Hi CrossTraining!

I have PCOS myself, and after plateauing in weight loss last year, was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder as well, and am just now starting to lose again after getting the right dose of Synthroid. As it turns out, many women with PCOS have thyroid imbalances that can really screw up fat loss/muscle hypertrophy, so your client may want to have this tested next time she has a physical.

Also, for women with PCOS it’s vitally important to work with a good reproductive endocrinologist who can monitor their blood glucose/insulin as well as various lipids; most US endos will recommend some type of insulin-sensitizing meds like Glucophage (Metformin) along with birth control pills in order to normalize these. DEFINITELY makes it easier to not only lose weight but to have more stable energy levels.

The one advantage to PCOS is that testosterone levels tend to be high, which obviously can benefit muscle growth, but again, this needs to be checked out and monitored as well, because an overabundance of androgens is usually responsible for various virilizing symptoms like acne, unwanted hair growth, etc.

Your macros look pretty good for a woman with PCOS…I find that HIIT cardio really helps keep my appetite in check despite hating doing it! LOL

I’ve been looking for better info on the relationship of PCOS to intense training…it seems most of the medical research out there focuses a lot on aerobic stuff and fairly “light” workouts. Not a whole lot of “throwing the iron around” mentioned.

If I can think of other stuff I’ll let ya know!

Best to you and your client,

Check out this website and their forum -

I’ve been diagnosed with being “a little PCOS-y,” but I’ve got high DHEA-S, not T.

Everything I’ve read on PCOS indicates that low-carb is the best choice. The suggestions also tend toward strength training. If she knows she’s got PCOS, hopefully she’s seeing a doc for it regularly. I’m not taking anything for mine, but you might ask what she’s taking since that impacts diet/appetites/etc.

You might also point her toward that web forum. Lots of great support and information…and they are strength-training friendly.

Thanks Justine/Artemisia,

Thank you for your feedback and information. I will take a look at the websites listed and read up some more on PCOS and the treatments, exercise, diet etc.
I will also pass the information onto my client, who as far as I’m aware doesn’t currently take any medication for it (she didn’t divulge on medical questionaire) and maybe it’s something she needs to look into a bit further with a specialist rather than her GP.

Thanks Cbear - didn’t even notice the link for Figure Athlete before, will definitely use that a lot more for help/advice and ongoing learning. Oh by the way, awesome physique, I would love some of my clients to get to your level. Think they just may need a little more discipline though :wink: