Your cycle can actually help you during your workouts. Pesky hormones might feel like they’re holding you back, but they can actually help. All you need to do is understand what your body is up to at each stage, so here are some tips on how to workout during your cycle
Your menstrual cycle is broken down into 4 parts.
- The menstrual phase
- Follicular phase
- Luteal phase
The menstrual Phase (aka your period)
Firstly, you get your period to kick off the cycle. During this time your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop (if you are not pregnant). This will trigger your body to shed the lining of the womb (your period). This phase can last around 3-7 days.
Training on your period
Training on your period can be a natural way to ease period pains. We share a whole post on yoga poses you can do to help with cramps. You can read it here >
Not only that, exercise releases endorphins which can make you feel happier and even give you more energy. If your mood really dips during your period (thanks hormones) then a gentle exercise session could do you some good.
However, go with zero expectations. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling weaker and not hitting the same numbers on the barbell as you did 2 weeks ago. This isn’t the the time of the month to be aiming for PBs.
On day 1 of your period the follicular phase starts. During this phase your body gears up for ovulation and the pituitary gland releases follicle stimulating hormone to trigger your body to release an egg for ovulation.
Your estrogen levels will then begin to rise during the ovulation phase. This is where your body releases an egg. You can tell this is happening from a rise in your core body temperature, which you might be familiar with if you are using Natural Cycles. Some people also get ovulation pains, though this isn’t always common. You can probably tell when you’re ovulating because its the time of the month you’re feeling more confident, outgoing and energetic.
Working out during the menstrual cycle: follicular stage and ovulation
There is research to show that during the follicular phase you are more likely to gain muscle strength compared to training in the luteal phase. You might also find that you feel in a better mood during this time.
During ovulation you will most likely have more energy (natures way of gearing you up for baby making 😉 ) So use this time to tackle those PBs, run, race, do what makes you feel good!
Exercise you might do during the follicular phase and during ovulation:
- Heavy leg day
- Spin class
- Running and trying to hit a new PB
- Weight training
- HIIT session
So crank up the feel good tunes and get on the squat rack, girl!
Next up, the luteal phase. During this phase you will have a rise in progesterone and it is the time when you will experience those PMS symptoms. If you are not pregnant, then these hormone levels will drop off after around 11-20 days and your cycle will restart with your period.
Working out during the menstrual cycle: Leteal phase
During the luteal phase, after you ovulate, you will be hotter. This might make HIIT training a little less comfortable (is it ever comfortable?!)
Exercises to do during the luteal phase
- Stretching and mobility
- Jogging without any expectations of PBs
If you are desperate for a spin sesh, then make sure you are drinking plenty of water and wearing loose clothing. If you can’t quite reach your max watts like a few weeks ago, don’t stress about it.
Try not to get stressed out with yourself during this time. You will probably be suffering from PMS symptoms such as bloating, poor sleep and be a little moody. Give yourself a break, hormones are hard work!
Can a workout during menstrual cycle help me get good results?
If you are switched on with your body and your training, you might have noticed that certain days you feel like the hulk in the gym. Other days you can barely lift your own arms.
This is because the hormone fluctuations with menstruation actually affect how you train. Knowing about this can help you train during your menstrual cycle and get the most from it.
It’s actually pretty cool. Annoying if you have a power lifting comp during your luteal phase, but if you know your cycle and are willing to work with it, you will be able to optimise your training.
In a nutshell
If you want to lift big and get a PB, do it before ovulation, or while you are ovulating. Then once you enter the luteal phase, think rest days, yoga, Pilates and wear clothes to keep you cool!
If painful cramps keep you bed bound, then try some gentle stretches or yoga poses to help. Or enjoy your daily dose of CBD which may also help to give you some relief.
Optimise how you train during your menstrual cycle and you will enjoy some great results.