Workout in Flow
The US Women’s Soccer team did something revolutionary this year. The trainers had each player track her menstrual cycle and vary her exercise and recovery routines based on which phase of her cycle she was in. The team agreed that cycle syncing had an incredible impact on their overall success, and they ultimately won the World Cup!
Exercise science is just beginning to understand how women’s fluctuating hormones affect their energy levels, muscles, and joints, but as someone whose workouts have synced with my cycle for many years, I can tell you – this really works. When you workout in sync with your ebbing and flowing energy, it reduces stress on your body, decreases your chances of hormone imbalance, help you recover faster, and see results more quickly.
Here are Five ways to get your Workout in Flow with your Cycle:
Start tracking your cycle, either on a phone app, a spreadsheet, or a cycle tracking cheat sheet. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to download a free one!)
Daily, track which day of your cycle you’re on, and how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Also note which phase the moon is in, so you can notice any moon/mood connections. The first day of your bleed is officially Day 1. The second day of your bleed is Day 2, and so on. When you start bleeding again, you’re back to Day 1. Want to get started, but not sure what day of your cycle you’re on? Take a guess, and start tracking. Each time you bleed again, start a new cycle tracking sheet on Day 1.
Day 1 – 6 (or so, depending on how long you bleed for).
In the Menstrual phase, your feel-good hormones are at the lowest point of the month. Many women find that their energy levels are also bottom out. Your body is losing vital nutrients, and excessive exercise can cause body stress this phase, which can lead to hormonal imbalances, period pain and PMS. It’s wise to take some time off from the gym, until you notice your energy ramps up (sometimes as early as Day 3 of your bleed), and then increase your exercise as it feels right to do so.
Great time to: Walk the dog, try Yin Yoga, spend time in nature, or rest like you mean it.
Day 7-12 (roughly)
After bleeding is complete, you’re in your follicular phase where your feel-good hormones begin to rise, signaling your brain to get creative, try new experiences, and put yourself out there. Combine that with the fact that your energy levels are rising each day, and this phase becomes the perfect time to start getting yourself back into a fitness routine.
Great time to try: Dance Classes, Group Fitness Classes, a new Cardio routine, jogging
Day 12-17 (on average)
You’re most fertile in the Ovulatory phase and you’re also the most energetic that you’ll be all month. Estrogen, FSH and LH hormones all peak, and many women feel vibrant, magnetic and active this phase. Plus, these feel-good hormones support the verbal and social centers of your brain, making you communicative and engaging.
Great time for: HIIT classes, spin, weight training, running intervals, and Power Yoga
Day 18 – 28 (or until you start bleeding again)
The Luteal phase (or pre-menstrual phase) is the longest part of your cycle, so you’ll still be feeling like high intensity is working for you for a bit. As your energy wanes this phase, plan to decrease the intensity of your exercise. Estrogen slowly dips after ovulation, and progesterone reaches a peak towards the middle of this phase, then dips again. These fluctuations make many women feel sluggish, and most experience food cravings this phase. It’s normal to eat a bit more than usual, as your body needs the fuel.
Plan for: High intensity exercise, and then gradually make the shift to gentle yoga, Qoya, dance class, or walks.
Remember, this information is a guide,, but if you feel differently in certain phases than what’s described, alter your workouts to what YOUR body is asking for. The most important thing is to notice how you feel in your body at different times of your cycle. That’s why cycle tracking is such an important step #1 in your fitness process!
There’s more to the script about menstruation than you’ve been given.
Get my Free Cycle Cheat Sheet to find out the 3 ways to have your best period yet!