It’s no surprise that our energy levels and enthusiasm for exercise go up and down throughout the month – it all depends where you’re at in your cycle, after all. Some weeks we’re super-human in our ability to juggle work, relationships, and a social life…all without letting a ninja fitness schedule slide (wahoo you). Other times it’s difficult to get off the sofa. Sound familiar?
But rather than beating yourself up when you lack the motivation to go for a run or are bored by your usual yoga class, think instead about switching up your exercise. Finding a new way to workout in the different phases of the month is called cycle syncing, and it makes total sense. Here’s why…
Exercise for the menstrual phase
This stage in your cycle needs no explaining, it’s when you get your period. In phase one of your menstrual cycle, progesterone levels have plummeted causing the uterine lining to shed. With the bleeding comes those killer cramps, low energy and an extreme fondness for your bed. Listen to your body and if you need to rest completely to repair your body and mind, do it. Opting for some gentle yoga poses to help period pain, or just going for a walk might be the most strenuous thing you do this week. And that’s ok.
Exercise for the follicular phase
What happens here then? Well, this stage also starts on the first day of your period – your pituitary gland releases the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) that triggers the growth and maturation of follicles in your ovaries. This phase lasts until you ovulate (so roughly 13 days, depending on your cycle length) and during this time oestrogen and testosterone are rising. After feeling super-sluggish during your period, it’s likely you’ll have an energy lift, feel assertive and be more willing to take risks. Now’s the time to experiment with a new fitness class (hula-hooping or trampolining anyone?) or try something a little extreme like bouldering or downhill mountain biking.
Exercise for the ovulation phase
Ovulation, usually mid-way in your cycle, will be the stage when energy levels are highest and you feel the most sociable – levels of oestrogen and testosterone in the body peak when your egg is being released from the ovary. Now, your confidence will soar and you’ll enjoy anything really physical (including sex) so cram in lots of HIIT workouts, sweaty runs, weight-lifting and team sports where you can work out with your mates.
Exercise for The luteal phase
This is the final wave of your menstrual cycle, before you get your period again. For the first few days in the luteal phase you’ll still be feeling ‘on it’, but as your oestrogen and testosterone levels start to dip, and progesterone starts to rapidly increase, you might feel yourself slowing down and that your workouts are getting harder. In the final stage of the luteal phase as your period gets close – PMS will be rearing its head. Dial down the intense cardio and instead do some pilates, go for a bike ride or take a vinyasa yoga class to beat any bloating, anxiety or moodiness that you may be feeling.