The Benefits of Planning Your Workouts  Around Your Cycle & How To Do It

The Benefits of Planning Your Workouts Around Your Cycle & How To Do It

“The Luteal phase is a great time to slow down your workouts with intentional movement,” Hannah Bronfman  recently shared in an Instagram post. I like to do a strength training circuit with light and heavy weights.”

The post, which includes a video of the influencer and entrepreneur’s workout, is one of many to pop up around the Internet recently about Cycle Syncing, the practice of aligning your lifestyle habits with different stages of your menstrual cycle. 

Want to know more about this nursing practice and how to implement it in your fitness routine? We’re explaining what you need to know below!

What Is Cycle Syncing?

If you experience a menstrual cycle, you’re likely familiar with the way your energy and moods fluctuate throughout the month. One week you feel super productive and energetically cross out items on your to-do list, only to feel utterly exhausted by the smallest task the next. 

These hormonal fluctuations are entirely normal for people with periods! While testosterone-driven people operate on a 24-hour hormone cycle (with the highest amount of testosterone and energy in the mornings, dipping around 4 or 5pm), estrogen-driven people operate on a (roughly) 28-Day cycle, with energy levels changing every few days. 

That means that living in systems and organizations that operate on a 24-hour period are more challenging and tiring for anyone whose body doesn’t naturally operate on that cycle. It’s also why you can crush a really intense workout class one week and feel like it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done the next, and why Cycle Syncing can be so life-changing. 

By changing your diet, exercise, and lifestyle to better coordinate with the hormonal fluctuations that are happening in your body, you’re able to work with, instead of against, your body. As a result, you will experience improved physical and mental health, have more energy, be more productive, and feel better overall.

Now this is the kind of information we needed to learn back in our 9th Grade Health Class!

 

How to Plan Your Workouts around the Four Phases of YourMenstrual Cycle 

Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and ends on the first day of your period. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but can vary from 21 to 35 days. 

It consists of four phases: The Menstrual Phase, Follicular Phase, Ovulatory Phase, and Luteal Phase. Here’s what happens in your body during each one: 

Menstrual Phase 

The Menstrual Phase starts the first day you start bleeding and is often referred to as your period. This phase usually lasts between three and seven days. During this time your body is shedding its uterine lining. That shedding is what causes you to bleed. 

During this phase the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body also decrease, which can cause you to have low energy and crave more alone time. You might notice you don’t feel as social and your body is looking for gentle, restorative moments. 

 

BEST WORKOUTS TO DO DURING YOUR MENSTRUAL PHASE: 

  • Mat Pilates classes that focus on holding postures and longer transitions between movements and exercises
  • Slow-paced Yoga flow classes or Yin Yoga classes where you hold poses for a longer period of time.
  • Gentle stretching
  • Light walking

 

Follicular Phase 

The Follicular Phase is the longest phase of your menstrual cycle. It starts on the first day of your period and ends when Ovulation occurs (usually around Day 13 of your cycle assuming your cycle is 28 days long). During this phase, an egg matures in one or more follicles, which are sac-like structures in the ovary. The uterus lining also thickens in preparation for pregnancy during this phase. Estrogen and progesterone begin to rise in the middle of your follicular phase, increasing your energy and making you feel more like going out in the world. 

 

During the middle of your follicular phase, your estrogen and progesterone begin to rise. You’ll likely notice increased energy and begin to feel more social. Now is a great time to check out a fast-paced group fitness class or see if a buddy wants to join you for a run. 

BEST WORKOUTS TO DO DURING YOUR FOLLICULAR PHASE: 

  • Mat and Reformer Pilates classes that focus on building foundational movements and then taking them to the next level. 
  • Vinyasa flow Yoga classes
  • Group workout classes

Ovulatory Phase 

Ovulation occurs during this phase and your estrogen and testosterone peak. Your body is at its most fertile and your energy likely is too. This is a great time to do an intense workout and challenge yourself physically. You’ll feel that physical challenges are easier than normal during this time, and increased confidence can make you feel on top of the world, so this is also a great time to try a new physical activity, like saying yes to that surf or ski lesson.

 

BEST WORKOUTS TO DO DURING YOUR OVULATORY PHASE: 

  • High-Intensity Interval workouts and cardio sessions
  • Fast-paced and challenging Reformer Pilates classes that help you take your practice to the next level 
  • Power Yoga classes with quick flows and challenging postures that push your mind-body connection

 

Luteal Phase

Often referred to as the “Fall phase” of your cycle, during the Luteal Phase your body begins to release progesterone, a hormone that helps thicken the lining of your uterus. It’s your body’s way of preparing for pregnancy if conception should occur. You’ll likely notice your energy begin to dip about halfway through your Luteal Phase and a desire to scale down the intensity of your workouts (and your social calendar). This is a great time to take outdoor workouts inside if you live in a warmer climate, since your body temperature is higher during this phase and exercising in cooler temperatures can make you feel less tired. 

 

BEST WORKOUTS TO DO DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE: 

  • Mat and Reformer Pilates classes focused on helping you build a strong foundation and deepen your practice
  • Flow yoga classes 
  • Moderate walks and hikes
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