Exercise through your menstrual cycle

Posted On Sep 07, 2021 |

Do you struggle to stay consistent with an exercise program?

Have you ever noticed that your bad days correlate to your periods? 

Do your bad days make you give up your program?

Exercise programs are often designed without the unique considerations a woman's body deserves. It is forgotten that we don't have a consistent hormone production that supports muscle growth and strength. Instead, women are dealing with the challenge of fluctuating and dropping hormone levels throughout her menstrual cycle. Instead of trying to push those challenges aside, how about we look to embrace those hormonal changes and work with our bodies. 

Understanding how your body works through your cycle can help you stay on track and keep working towards your goals. Each stage of your period has key characteristics and can help guide your workouts.

Week One - Period begins

This is the stage of your cycle when you begin to bleed. Bleeding will vary in length anywhere from 3-7 days. During this time, you can scale back your workouts as your energy will be low and your body craving rest. You don't need to abandon your workouts all together but can choose to focus on restful movement, breathing exercises, stretches to ease aching muscles and walking. If you are completing a strength training program, focus on completing your base level effort or a little less than normal. 

Week Two - Pre-Ovulation

As you finish bleeding, your body is preparing for ovulation - to release an egg. Your energy will begin to lift compared to last week and a good opportunity to increase your workload. Ease into running or walking at a faster pace, lifting more weight or completing more reps. Embrace this stage as you are feeling good. 

Week Three - Ovulation Time

It's go time baby! Your energy levels will be high as your body ovulates and prepares to get pregnant (if you're into that). In terms of exercise, this is the time to increase the intensity of your workouts and challenge your body. Take advantage of this boost of energy and explore fun ways to move your body too. 

Week Four - Pre-menstrual stage

Unfortunately, this is where things head south. You begin to experience all the fun PMS symptoms like mood fluctuations, cravings, bloating, constipation, brain fog. All the things that make us feel yuck and where we really want to throw the exercise program out the window. Instead, return to your base level workouts. Keep the workouts simple, straightforward and gentle on the body. During this stage you can also focus on your food choices. Where the body may crave sweet or savoury treats, you can choose to add plenty of water, fibre and nutrient rich foods to lessen the impacts of constipation and bloating. 

This week by week breakdown is to be used as a guide and your cycle may vary from this exact structure. You may find it beneficial to track your cycle and start to put into practice some of these strategies as you notice the changes in your energy levels and mood towards exercise. 

I hope that this can help you take time to listen to your body when you better understand your cycle. Give yourself permission to rest when your body needs it and take advantage of periods of high energy. If you need support to modify your workouts throughout your menstrual cycle, contact me to be part of our Fit and Fearless Group Training Program or discuss individual Women's Health Coaching. 

Categories: Exercise, Women's Health