As women, our hormones fluctuate every single day. What our bodies need this week won’t be the same for the next week. Understanding how to exercise for your menstrual cycle will change the game for you.
You will know what ways to move your body, so you get the results you want! It isn’t about ignoring your body’s signals but adapting to them. However, if you have hormonal imbalances, I recommend getting those situated first, especially if you’re on birth control. The recommendations below are for those with a regular monthly cycle.
What are the phases of menstruation?
As women, we go through four phases: menstruation, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal.
During this phase is when we have our period. On average, your period can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Hormonal, this is when Estrogen and Progesterone are low (very low).
The follicular begins the day you start your period and continues until you ovulate. During this period, Estrogen will be increasing to grow a follicle to become an egg then. Progesterone also begins rising but not as rapidly as the Estrogen. This phase usually lasts 7-10 days.
This is when your ovaries release an egg. It is a very short phase in which you can get pregnant. This phase only lasts 3-4 days. However, sperm can stay in our bodies for 5-days! Hormonally at this point, Estrogen has peaked and begins to decline. At the same time, Progesterone starts to increase rapidly.
The final phase begins right after ovulation is done and lasts for 10-14 days. Hormonally we see a little rise in Estrogen only to drop off again. However, Progesterone will peak at the midway point of this phase. Then it will drop off like Estrogen if the egg was not fertilized.
Length of your Menstruation
Understanding the length of your menstrual cycle is key here. On average, a women’s cycle can last 23 to 36 days long. But the golden number has been 28 days. But depending if you’re healing from hormonal imbalances, this can vary each month.
You can begin tracking your cycle with a Basal Thermometer and reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I personally use the Daysy in conjunction with the Clue App. The more you track and get to know your body, the easier it’ll be to know your menstruation length. I recommend speaking with an OB-GYN if you plan on getting off birth control or have hormonal imbalances.
How to Exercise For Your Menstrual Cycle
This is going to be broken down into four phases: menstruation, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal.
Once your period starts, it is optimal to use that week as a recovery week. This is when you’re body wants to relax. If you want to exercise, stick to things like walking, stretching, yoga, and so on.
The beginning of your follicular phase starts the day you get your period. Usually, during the first few days, you can feel tired and unmotivated. But by the end of your period, there’s often a feeling of sudden energy and motivation.
This is why during the first two weeks of this phase, it is optimal to lift heavy, focus on anaerobic activity, and go for those PR’s you want to hit. What is also important is during this phase is carbohydrates are used more efficiently.
The reason is due to the increase in Estrogen; we become more insulin sensitive. Another benefit of high-intensity exercise is it can help boost metabolism. As we get closer to ovulation, our metabolism can take a bit of a dip.
During this week, is when your energy levels can take a bit of a dip. This is due to the hormones shifting with Estrogen starting to dip, and Progesterone is increasing. This is also the same time you’re fertile, and an egg has been released from the ovaries.
Right after ovulation is when the luteal phase begins. This is when women notice a significant change in energy. Workouts you did in weeks one and two can feel harder. It can also feel that it takes longer to recover, as well.
The energy decline is also caused by us become a bit insulin resistant. This means your body isn’t using the carbohydrates effectively. Instead of those high-intensity exercises, aim to do more steady-state exercise. You can do things like bodyweight training, walking, hiking, or even active recovery.
Halfway through the luteal phase, our ligaments and tendons become laxer due to the significant increase in Progesterone. This can increase our risk of injury, in which it is important to stick to gentle exercise. It can be as simple as walking to yoga. Especially the week before your period, as that is when bloating, mood swings, and other PMS symptoms can occur. Once you get your period, the follicular starts all over again.
Here is a simpler way to break down your training to exercise for your menstrual cycle.
- Follicular is all about anaerobic exercise, high-intensity, sprinting, and hitting new PR’s.
- Ovulatory is when hormones begin to shift, so aim to change your exercise’s intensity to high to low/moderate intensity.
- Luteal is all about low-intensity anaerobic exercise, steady-state cardio, swimming, yoga, tai chi, and active recovery.
- Menstruation is all about recovery, so take some days off or do low-intensity exercise.
I hope this helps you to have a deeper understanding of your body. The goal isn’t to have you ignore your menstrual cycle, but to work with it. I’d love for you to share this with other women in your life!
Thank youu so much for reading!
**This information is not meant as medical or nutritional advice. Always check with your qualified healthcare professional before incorporating new supplements or nutritional changes into your routine. A Primal Health Coach (PHC) is trained to evaluate nutritional needs and make recommendations for dietary changes and nutritional supplements. A PHC is unable to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or medical condition. I cannot guarantee any specific result from recommendations as we are all bio-individually different. If you are under the care of a healthcare provider, it is important that you contact them and alert them to any changes in your lifestyle in regards to nutrition and supplements. A health coach may be a beneficial addition to more traditional care, and it may also alter your need for medication, so it is important you always keep your physician informed of changes in your nutritional program.