How (and Why) to Cycle Your Exercise with Your Menstrual Cycle

How (and Why) to Cycle Your Exercise with Your Menstrual Cycle

Women of all life stages often find themselves attempting the latest workout trends in hopes of achieving positive results. However, there’s that time of the month when we have low energy days and it’s difficult to workout as hard as we normally do.

By understanding our monthly hormonal fluctuations, we can plan our workouts for when we need to work hard and when we should lower the intensity.

When we learn to sync our exercise routine with our menstrual cycle, we leverage our female biology to our advantage, working smarter rather than harder.

The Menstrual Cycle Overview

The menstrual cycle typically spans 23–38 days and encompasses three phases:

Follicular Phase – This starts on the first day of your period characterized by the lowest levels of female hormones throughout the month. It lasts 12–14 days and continues for 5–6 days after the last day of your period. As the phase progresses, estrogen levels gradually increase.

Ovulation – Ovulation happens when the body releases an egg making it viable for implantation and pregnancy. This period typically takes place around day 14.

Luteal Phase – The luteal phase starts and extends throughout the 2nd half of the menstrual cycle. This phase is characterized by hormonal fluctuations. Estrogen experiences a moderate rise, as well as progesterone which brings with it some physiological symptoms.

Hormonal Fluctuations Effects

The follicular phase gives you low hormone levels, and the only symptoms you are likely to experience are associated with your period. With the lack of hormonal symptoms, you need to exert your best efforts during this time.

During ovulation you have a slightly higher body temperature, and this lasts until the luteal phase. You become more sensitive to exercising in hot environments. Core temperature elevation, higher resting heart rate and faster breathing rate will make you prone to fatigue easily.

Strength exercises like bodyweight, bands, cables, or free weights lead to microscopic tears within the muscles. But during the luteal phase, the progesterone prevents the muscles from repairing themselves so it should be avoided or reduced during this time.

Planning Your Exercise Routine Based on Your Menstrual Cycle

Implementing a few simple habits can impact the efficiency of your workouts. Here’s what you need to do:

Track Your Cycle

To align your exercise routine with your menstrual cycle, the first step is to accurately track it. This can be done by keeping a digital thermometer and an alarm clock by your bed. Take the measurement at the same time each morning helps establish a reliable pattern. By tracking your temperature throughout the first half of your cycle, you can identify the slight temperature increase around mid-cycle, indicating ovulation.

Choose Different Exercises for Different Phases

Tailor your exercise selection to the phase of your menstrual cycle. Do HIITs at Blast Fitness during the follicular phase along with weightlifting, plyometrics, hot yoga, long runs, etc. Then during the luteal phase, you can go for moderate cardio exercises like outdoor walks, yoga or Pilates. You may or may not exercise during your period, but if you do, keep it to light exercises only.

Work with Your Body, Not Against It

By understanding the phases of the menstrual cycle and consistently tracking your cycle, you gain control over your exercise efficiency, enabling you to avoid failed workouts and self-criticism while optimizing your overall fitness journey.

During your menstrual period, here are some exercises you can do:

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