Have you ever felt stuck with your workout routine? Or felt that no amount of exercise can help you shed those last few pounds? It might be time for you to consider syncing your workout routine to your menstrual cycle.
As women, we are cyclical beings. Throughout about a 28-30ish day window, we are shifting and constantly changing. Our hormones, attitudes, and emotions are different each day. Unlike men, whose hormone levels are constant, we should not be doing the same thing every day. Our metabolism, cortisol and calorie needs change throughout the 28 day hormonal cycle. We need to honor our changing hormones and alter our diets, sleep, social activities and exercise throughout the menstrual cycle.
Modifying activities and the type of exercise you do each day will make your hormones happy and workouts more effective. To achieve the results you are looking for, it is important to understand each part of your cycle and how to best support it.
Our cycle starts the day we start bleeding. This first phase is called menstruation and lasts for about 4-7 days. During menstruation our uterine lining is shedding and our hormones are at their lowest point. This is a naturally stressful time for our body and high amounts of cortisol, also known as our stress hormone, is released. Therefore, it is best to perform low intensity workouts such as walking, yoga or pilates.
Days 6-11 are your follicular phase. Once you stop bleeding you often have the highest amount of energy you’ll have all cycle. Our metabolic rate decreases during this time, therefore, high intensity exercises are best and can boost metabolism. HIIT classes, running and biking are perfect for these days!
Ovulation can happen anywhere between days 12-16. This time is when we are at our peak as women! Not only is estrogen rising and peaking but we get a surge of testosterone that makes us feel powerful and strong. The combination of estrogen and testosterone increase our motivation, drive and energy. This is a great time to try something new or compete in a race or event. Testosterone also helps us build muscle so increasing strength training and protein during this phase may yield more muscle building.
The last, and longest, phase is called our luteal phase. It lasts from about day 17 to 28 or whenever bleeding occurs again. The primary hormone in play is progesterone which is our feel good hormone. Progesterone is very sensitive to cortisol and stress therefore we want to start to lower the intensity of our workouts. It is smart to continue strength training and integrate more restorative practices such as yoga and pilates. Our metabolic rate actually increases during our luteal phase so we do not need to engage in super intense workouts. Overdoing it during your luteal phase can actually backfire and worsen PMS or period symptoms.
Not sure where to start? The first thing you will need to do is start tracking your cycle, if you are not already. You can do this in the health app on your phone or by downloading one of the many free apps out there.
I hope all of this information is encouraging and empowering for you. As women, we experience the joys and frustrations of living with our cycle, but we do not have to be controlled by it! Just by knowing your cycle, and what’s going on with your metabolism, you can optimize your workouts and your stressors. If you are anything like me, I often got down on myself if I did not have a “great” sweaty workout everyday, but now I am free from that pressure and you can be too!
Need help achieving your health and wellness goals? Contact me at Activcore Castle Rock to get started now!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.