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Working Out Around Your Menstrual Cycle

As women, our bodies go through incredible monthly cycles. As seen in the graph below, our hormones naturally rise and fall during the month. Understanding how to sync exercise and workouts with these nuances and fluctuations means we can start to work with our bodies rather than against them, empowering our fitness journey. embracing our bodies' natural rhythms and maximising our fitness potential. 

The four phases are: 

Days 1-7: The Bleed Phase – do what you’re comfortable with but you may be able to do more than you think. 

Days 8-14: The Acceleration Phase - You’re Regenerating ready to go again, start to push yourself. 

Days 15-21: The Power Phase - You’re full of testosterone, go for strength, this is the window to build muscle if that’s your thing. 

Days 22-28: The Recovery Phase  You’ll be able to do less, and your mind will likely be less friendly, so go easier – go you for working out. 

Let's explore the different phases in more detail and how you can tailor workouts to complement each stage. 

The Bleed Phase 

Day 1 starts on the first day of your period. As your hormone levels have dipped, energy can be slower and mood lower than at other times of your cycle. This is your body’s way of getting you ready for the boost in performance heading your way.  

While some people will benefit from restorative workouts like Yoga and Pilates, and light cardio activities like walking or swimming due to feelings of bloating or pain, others feel ready push on. Listen to your body and train harder if you can. In general, save the strength training for later in the week, building in some longer rest periods when you do If you do need to ease off the pedal that’s ok, the more recovery you get in this phase, the more you’ll be able to achieve in the next two phases. Prioritise more recovery days including light cardio, Yoga, Pilates 

Intensity: Low to moderate 

The Acceleration Phase 

After your bleed, your hormones start to rise. Your energy levels will pick up, you’ll feel focused and enthusiastic. Mentally, you’ll be ready to take on the world. Take advantage of this phase by adding in some higher intensity workouts, powerlifting, or strength and conditioning workouts. Throw in some endurance-focused exercises like running and cycling too if that’s your goal 

You might get that sense of trying to achieve everything all at once, so plan your exercises based on your goal and enjoy the additional energy this phase brings. Prioritise strength and conditioning, speed and endurance  

Intensity: Moderate to High 

The Power Phase 

Hormone levels begin to elevate again, especially Progesterone. You’ll see another boost in energy, as well as feeling very positive. Energy levels will be steady, giving you a great opportunity to increase the number of workouts this week. 

The phase is a great time to work on muscle building if that’s your thing, speed or power training and HIIT workouts. Recovery is also optimised so you can get in more workouts this week than other phases. 

Intensity: High 

The Recovery Phase 

In this final phase, the body is preparing for menstruation, and start the process all over again. As hormone levels start to drop down, symptoms like headaches, low blood sugar, hot flushes, and back pain can start to set in - you’ll likely see a dip in your overall mood as well 

Consider workouts that provide stress relief and maintain energy levels, opting for low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, or brisk walking. Prioritise relaxation and recovery exercises as energy levels start to dwindle and incorporate longer rest periods between sets alongside more restorative movements. You have just trained hard for two weeks, now take advantage of a well-earned rest ready to start again next month. 

Intensity: Low 

If you aren't already harnessing the power of your menstrual cycle and started listening to your body, this can be a game changer when trying to stay motivated and keeping a regular routine. We’re here to help support you and give you the confidence to adjust your workout as necessary, and celebrate the strength and resilience that comes with embracing your natural rhythms 

*Disclaimer: This is based on the average length of a women’s cycle, but we understand that every woman is different. Our aim is to provide information and guidance to support you in understanding your body, and the regular cycle it goes through – not restrict your activity. Use this information as you see fit to get the most out of your workout.  

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