Yoga, hula hooping, light weight training… we’re told that exercise is great for when you’re on your period – and with good reason! It balances your mood, beats bloating and helps kill menstrual cramps. While exercising on your period won’t burn more calories than exercising during other times of the month, the different phases of your menstrual cycle does effect your body during workouts.
Here’s how to make the most out of your training throughout your menstrual cycle, and what to be aware of.
How to Optimise Your Exercise For Your Menstrual Cycle
Phase 1: Menstrual Phase
Duration: 3-7 Days
Maybe the thought of spin classes or star jumps makes you groan, but your period – the menstrual phase – is the best time to do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, which means HIIT will be most effective exercise for burning fat, and (not that we think you ever need an excuse,) what better time than to indulge on pasta and potatoes to keep you going throughout the day? Carbs are key for avoiding burn out. Avoid extreme stretching as ligaments and tendons are looser due to changing hormones in your body during this part of your cycle.
Phase 2: Follicular Phase
Duration: 7-10 Days
After your period, you’ll soon be feeling in ship-shape again, thanks to your oestrogen. Oestrogen helps with muscle building, higher tolerance for pain, faster recovery and more stamina. Make the most of the phase and plan to push yourself – swing some kettle bells and pump some iron; it’s time to make some new personal bests!
Phase 3: Ovulatory Phase
Duration: 3-4 Days
Right before you begin to experience PMS, your oestrogen is at its peak – the perfect time to get a sweat on. With your body fully prepared for fat burning, now is the prime time for medium weights and higher reps.
Feeling more energised means you might be feeling more social too. Why not book yourself onto some group exercise classes and let the social butterfly in you spread its wings?
Don’t forget to warm up for longer, stretch properly, and rest well. Your muscles are vulnerable – especially when you’ve worked hard – so you’ll need time to recover and avoid injury.
Phase 4: Luteal Phase
Duration: 10-14 Days
The hunger, the headaches, the bigger and sore boobs…. welcome to the luteal phase. We all know that PMS time when our body starts preparing us for our periods again.
You’re probably feeling tired, bloated and have lost all motivation to hit the gym. And it doesn’t help that your body temperature rises during the luteal phase either, where working out feels even more uncomfortable.
Fight the feeling of saying no and opt for more gentle exercise like swimming, yoga, or a morning jog… if you’re really struggling to bring yourself to it, even walking will be good for your mind and body.
Make sure you keep track of your cycle using a period tracker app to so you know where you are in your phases and adjust your workout routine accordingly!