Your monthly workout schedule most probably revolves around your meetings, trips or social calendar but have you ever thought about also factoring in your period?
We let other factors affect how we feel about working out, how much motivation we have, how strong we feel during it and how much energy we were able to give. Another major contributor that is often overlooked is not just whether or not its our time of the month, but which stage we are at in our cycle. You probably don’t need us to tell you, but your body goes through a whole range of hormonal highs and lows during your cycle. In order to help keep you feeling your best all month long and to give yourself the most productive workout calendar, taking note of these important hormone happenings in your body is something that we recommend you start becoming more sensitive to.
Each phase of your cycle brings about different hormonal and physical changes and so in order to make sure your workout schedule works with these, rather than against them, here is our simple guide to how your period effects your workout and the recommended movements to stick to for each phase:
Phase 1: Follicular
The follicular phase, aka, your time of the month, is the first phase of your menstrual cycle and lasts around 7-10 days. Exercising on your period may sound like a crazy idea when you consider all that your body is going through, but as a matter of fact, exercising on your period is a better idea than you think!
Although motivation may seem to be at an all time low and you may be experiencing cramping, bloating and a depletion of energy, the effectiveness of your workouts when you’re on your period remains the same. Exercising whether you feel like it or not, may actually be the best way to help alleviate the cramp and feel better about the bloat too! This phase is also a great phase to schedule workouts in because working out will help to increase your energy and boost your endorphin and serotonin levels. This should naturally put you in a feel good, stress lowered mood which, let’s face it, we all need a helping hand with when we’re on!
The goal in this phase is therefore just to get moving! It’s a good time to focus on more high intensity training (if you can make yourself!), such cardio, HIIT and class based workouts to encourage the most endorphin production and switch up your mood but maybe stick to shorter workouts than long marathon sessions. If there’s a BoxxCARDIO based class you’ve been meaning to try, then this is the time to do it.
Phase 2: Ovulatory
The next phase of your cycle is the ovulatory phase lasting between 3-4 days. At the beginning of this phase, straight after your period, you may have a couple of days feeling lower in energy but as your body then starts producing more oestrogen (a hormone that naturally makes you feel more energised), your energy levels, along with your mood, should start to increase. To make the most of this energy, it’s therefore a good time to start moving towards those more energetic based workouts and try out new styles!
Go all in with the HIIT and plyometrics exercises if they are your thing. You should be feeling full of energy to smash out high-impact and more hard-core sessions that enable you to push you to your limits. If there’s a personal goal you want to smash, like a time you want to beat, increased weight you want to lift or go at it for longer, then make this phase the phase you do it.
Phase 3: Luetal
The third phase, the luetal phase, comes next and lasts around 10-12 days. As you enter this second half of your cycle, the energy levels you have may begin to lower alongside with your oestrogen and progesterone decline. This drop in hormone levels can cause exhaustion making this longer phase a good time to start slowing down those more intense, faster paced workouts and scheduling in slower, resistance and strength based training.
Stop with the jumping around and pushing yourself to your limits, this will only leave you feeling low in energy and isn’t the most beneficial style of working out you could be doing. Opt towards workouts that let you move your body in a more steady, controlled way.
Phase 4: Menstrual
If there’s a time to check out our range of BoxxFLOW classes, then this phase is it! Lasting only 3-5 days pre fertilisation, your menstrual phase is an intense time for you body, likely leaving you feeling tired, in a lower mood and possibly with uncomfortable cramps. In order to respect that, gentle, restorative activity is recommend.
This final stage is therefore the time to turn that intensity volume right down and reduce your exercise to easier, aerobic styles. Think a slow yoga flow or a gentle jog or even walk. A great excuse to go all zen with your workout schedule and accept that now’s the time to just let your body rest and chill.
Overall, with every stage of your cycle, your main focus when it comes to deciding your workout style, should be to listen to your body. If at any time during the month you feel like taking it slower or even not working out for a couple of days, then respect that and don’t beat yourself up about it! Hopefully this guide is a helping hand when you next come to planning your workout schedules with which styles are best to focus on and when in order to compliment your cycle the most optimum way you can.
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