Should You Tailor Workouts Around Your Menstrual Cycle?

The influence of the menstrual cycle on various aspects of a woman’s life is undeniable, and emerging research suggests that it may also play a role in how women experience and respond to exercise. The question arises: should you change your workouts around your menstrual cycle?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the potential impact of the menstrual cycle on exercise performance, recovery, and overall well-being, helping you make informed decisions about tailoring your workouts to your unique physiological fluctuations.

 

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle:

The menstrual cycle consists of distinct phases, including menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Hormonal changes, specifically fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone, characterise each phase, potentially influencing energy levels, strength, and recovery.

Tailoring Workouts to Menstrual Phases:

  • Menstruation (Days 1-5):
    • Exercise Focus: During menstruation, many women may experience lower energy levels and increased discomfort. Engaging in lower-intensity exercises like yoga, walking, or light stretching can provide relief and support overall well-being.
    • Hydration and Recovery: Stay hydrated and prioritise recovery during this phase. Adequate rest and self-care practices can help manage any discomfort associated with menstruation.
  • Follicular Phase (Days 6-14):
    • Exercise Focus: As oestrogen levels rise, energy levels often increase. This is an opportune time for more challenging workouts, including strength training and high-intensity activities. Women may experience improved strength and endurance during this phase.
    • Nutrition: Focus on balanced nutrition to support increased energy demands. Including a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats can contribute to optimal performance.
  • Ovulation (Days 15-17):
    • Exercise Focus: Similar to the follicular phase, energy levels tend to be higher during ovulation. Incorporate a mix of cardiovascular and strength exercises to take advantage of increased stamina and endurance.
    • Hydration: Pay attention to hydration, especially if engaging in more intense workouts. Adequate water intake supports overall performance and recovery.
  • Luteal Phase (Days 18-28):
    • Exercise Focus: Hormonal fluctuations during the luteal phase may lead to increased fatigue and potential mood changes. Consider incorporating activities like yoga, Pilates, or moderate-intensity exercises. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity accordingly.
    • Mind-Body Connection: Emphasise activities that promote a mind-body connection. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, or gentle stretching can contribute to stress reduction.

Tailoring Based on Individual Variability:

It’s crucial to recognise that individual responses to menstrual cycle phases can vary. Factors such as lifestyle, stress levels, and overall health play significant roles in how women experience these fluctuations. Monitoring your own energy levels, mood, and performance can provide valuable insights into how your body responds to different types of exercise throughout the menstrual cycle.

Tailoring workouts around the menstrual cycle is a personal choice that considers individual experiences and preferences. While some women may find adjusting their exercise routine based on menstrual phases beneficial, others may prefer a more consistent approach. Listening to your body, staying attuned to its signals, and making adjustments accordingly can contribute to a more supportive and enjoyable fitness journey. Whether you choose to sync your workouts with your menstrual cycle or maintain a regular routine, the key is finding an approach that aligns with your well-being and helps you achieve your fitness goals.

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