Exercises for Each Stage of your Menstrual Cycle
It is becoming more common to hear female athletes talk about training according to their menstrual cycle. What does this mean, and how can it help you? When women train according to their cycle, they optimize their fitness routine and achieve better results while minimizing discomfort and stress. The menstrual cycle is a complex process that involves fluctuations in hormone levels, which can affect energy levels, metabolism, and muscle function; all things that an elite athlete should consider when training.
Here are some reasons why it is important for a woman to train according to her cycle:
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can affect energy levels, motivation, and muscle function. By tailoring exercise routines to each phase of the cycle, women can optimize their workouts and improve their overall performance.
- Recovery time: During certain phases of the menstrual cycle, women may require more recovery time between workouts due to changes in hormone levels. Adjusting workout intensity and frequency accordingly can help prevent overtraining and minimize the risk of injury.
- Symptom management: By understanding how the menstrual cycle affects the body, women can modify their workouts to minimize discomfort and symptoms such as bloating, cramps, and fatigue.
- Improved results: Training according to the menstrual cycle can help women achieve better results by optimizing their workouts and taking advantage of the hormonal changes that occur during each phase of the cycle.
What exercises should a woman do during each phase of her cycle?
The FOLLICULAR phase is the first phase of the menstrual cycle, starting on the first day of menstruation and lasting until ovulation. During this phase, estrogen levels rise, and the uterus lining thickens in preparation for a possible pregnancy. This phase is an excellent time to focus on exercises that can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Here are some recommended exercises for this phase:
- Cardiovascular exercises: Running, cycling, swimming, and dancing are excellent cardiovascular exercises that can help you burn calories, improve heart health, and boost your mood.
- Strength training: Resistance training exercises, such as weightlifting, can help you build muscle mass, improve bone density, and increase your metabolism.
- Yoga: Yoga can help you reduce stress, increase flexibility and strength, and promote overall relaxation. Some yoga poses that can be helpful during the follicular phase include the warrior, the tree pose, and the triangle pose.
- Pilates: Pilates is an excellent exercise that focuses on core strength, flexibility, and balance. Pilates exercises can help you improve your posture, tone your muscles, and reduce stress.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of rest. This type of exercise can help you burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health, and boost your metabolism.
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The OVULATION phase is a critical period in the menstrual cycle when the ovaries release an egg for fertilization. During this phase, hormone levels, including estrogen and testosterone, peak, which can lead to an increase in energy and motivation. Here are some recommended exercises for this phase:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT workouts are ideal for the ovulation phase as they can help boost energy levels and burn calories. HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest.
- Strength training: Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, can help women maintain and build lean muscle mass, improve bone density, and increase metabolism.
- Yoga: Yoga can be beneficial during the ovulation phase, as it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, promote relaxation, and improve flexibility.
- Dance classes: Dancing is a fun way to get moving and an excellent way to burn calories, improve cardiovascular health, and boost your mood. Consider taking a dance class, such as Zumba, to keep things interesting.
- Outdoor activities: Going for a hike, bike ride, or taking a swim can be a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine while staying active.
The LUTEAL phase is the second half of the menstrual cycle, starting after ovulation and lasting until the start of the next period. During this phase, progesterone levels increase, which can lead to symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, and fatigue. Here are some exercises that women can do during their luteal phase:
- Low-impact cardio: During the luteal phase, women may experience bloating and discomfort, making high-impact exercises challenging. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, can be a great way to get moving and improve cardiovascular health without putting too much stress on the body.
- Yoga: Yoga can be helpful during the luteal phase as it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation.
- Pilates: Pilates exercises can help women improve their posture, strengthen their core muscles, and reduce stress during the luteal phase.
- Resistance band exercises: Resistance bands are an excellent tool for toning muscles, improving strength and flexibility without putting too much stress on the body.
- Stretching: Stretching can help relieve tension and discomfort during the luteal phase, particularly in the lower back and abdominal areas. Consider incorporating gentle stretching
During the menstrual phase, women may experience cramps, fatigue, and mood swings due to hormonal changes. While exercise may not be a top priority for some during this time, staying active can help relieve menstrual symptoms and improve mood. Here are some exercises that women can do during their menstrual phase:
- Gentle cardio: Low-intensity exercises, such as walking or light cycling, can help boost mood and energy levels during the menstrual phase.
- Yoga: Yoga can help relieve menstrual cramps, reduce stress, and improve overall mood during this time. Gentle yoga poses, such as child's pose, and pigeon pose, can be particularly beneficial during the menstrual phase.
- Pilates: Pilates exercises can help strengthen the core muscles and improve posture, which can help alleviate lower back pain and cramping during the menstrual phase.
- Stretching: Stretching can help relieve tension and discomfort, particularly in the lower back and abdominal areas, during the menstrual phase. Consider incorporating gentle stretching exercises, such as cat-cow or seated forward fold, into your routine.
- Restorative exercises: Restorative exercises, such as gentle swimming or restorative yoga, can help improve relaxation and reduce stress during the menstrual phase.
Remember to listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine as needed. Stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, and get enough rest to support your overall health and wellbeing. The more we know our bodies, the better we will be able to perform on the field.
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