Working Out and Your Cycle....What You Need to Know.

I recently posted a story over on my instagram about the importance of syncing your workouts with your menstrual cycle.

The response to my story was incredible, and I figured I should share in a little more detail over here!

Women are becoming increasingly more aware of how their cycle affects their everyday life. We WANT to know more about how we can honor these weekly hormonal changes and what in the world is happening within our body.

we have been left in the dark for too many years regarding the beautiful complexity of our REPRODUCTIVE system. IT’S TIME we CHANGE THAT.

I find this to be a serious women empowerment issue.

How is it that so many of us are walking around blind to the fact that we have such a delicate and incredible system in our body? That our endocrine system responds sensitively to life’s stressors, nutrition, our daily thoughts, and big changes in our lives?

Here is the thing - our body sends us very specific signals each week, letting us know what it needs from us. From weekly changes in cervical fluid (yep, I said it!) to highs and lows in mood/energy … our body is trying to communicate important messages all the time.

One way that we tend to ignore these important signals is when it comes to our exercise routine.

Have you ever stopped to think about your choice of movement and whether or not it is serving your body’s needs?

Our body goes through a mind blowing hormonal dance each month. Between the yin and yang relationship of estrogen and progesterone, and other important fertility hormones, our body is working HARD behind the scenes to make sure we function properly.

With all of these huge fluctuations, it only makes sense that our physical activity throughout the month would need to differ to honor the roles of our ever-changing hormones!

let’s take a look into the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle, and how your workouts can support what you need:

The main thing to remember is physical activity can either support or stress out the body. So, whether you choose a run, weight-lifting, or calming yoga is actually incredible important!

During the first part of your cycle your energy will naturally be higher and optimized for high intensity exercise. During the second part of your cycle your hormonal ratio of estrogen and progesterone shifts again making more restorative physical activities more ideal. You can still fit everything in, in fact cross training your workouts this way just over the course of the month gives your body more variety and decreases potential for injury.
— Alisa Vitti (one of my hormone gurus)

Phase 1: Follicular Phase

You just ended your period and your energy is RISING! Literally, your physical energy, is increasing by the day as your estrogen climbs. You’re ready for new and exciting experiences.

Cardio and high intensity exercise will really serve you during this phase:

  • Zumba

  • Running

  • Sprints

  • Spin

  • Interval weight training

  • Try a new and challenging workout!

Phase 2: Ovulatory Phase

Your body is getting ready to prepare for the release of an egg in hopes of getting pregnant (even if you DO NOT want that haha). You have a rise in follicle stimulating hormone as well as luteinizing hormone at this time.

You have lots of estrogen as well which means your energy is at one of it’s highest points in the cycle (it may even make you feel a tad anxious, like me!)

Strenuous & aerobic exercise will serve you during this phase (as well as working out in groups!):

  • Running

  • Spin

  • Bootcamp

  • Body weight training

  • Weight lifting

Phase 3:Luteal Phase

Progesterone takes over during this phase of your cycle. The first part of this phase might still be full of energy, so continue the movement above if it feels good. Towards the end of the luteal phase, before your period begins, lighter activities will be best. This phase will be all about listening to your body! You may have some extra energy to burn before your period … so take note of that!

Beginning of luteal:

  • Higher intensity yoga

  • Strength training

End of luteal:

  • vinyasa yoga

  • pilates

Phase 4: Menstrual Phase

Ah, finally… period time! Your hormone levels will are at their lowest point as progesterone starts to decrease again and your start your period. You might feel PMS symptoms taking over (especially if your hormones are unbalanced), and your body is craving REST. Honor this!!

If you try to commit to a strenuous workout at this time, it can actually cause MORE stress on the body that it’s worth. As your stress hormones increase, your blood sugar raises, and all of that excess glucose may get stored as visceral fat (that trouble-some belly area!).

Allow your body the rest and calm it needs during this time. No extra stress needed :)

As you end your period, and estrogen begins to ramp up again, check in with how you feel! You might feel ready to ramp up the exercise as you head back into your follicular phase.

Calming workouts are best at this time:

  • Walks

  • Yin Yoga

  • Stretching

I hope that you found this information to be a helpful guide as you head into your next cycle! All of this is information we deeply, intuitively, know. I think we all just get too busy to listen to the signs and signals our body is sending us each week ;)

Happy exercising, loves!

This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis.



Nina Boyce