Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Have you ever heard of cycle-syncing your fitness? No? That's because the female cycle and women's unique biochemistry is rarely (if ever!) considered when exercise-related studies are conducted. Thankfully, the education around this topic is quickly expanding, and I'm so excited to share what I have studied with you all!
Unlike men, the hormone fluctuations women experience can greatly impact energy levels, performance, and recovery time. By honoring your body's unique energy and hormone fluctuations throughout the month (known as the infradian rhythm), you are setting yourself up for optimal results in both performance and body composition!
The difference in male and female biochemistry also explains the reason many women experience burn-out or hormonal issues related to strenuous/extreme exercise routines, such as absent periods or anovulation; that being said...women shouldn't shy away from lifting weights or doing HIIT workouts, they offer many benefits such as better blood sugar regulation, weight loss, increased energy, and more! The secret is to train smarter, not harder, timing workouts to honor your body's natural rhythm.
I have personally put cycle-syncing fitness into practice and have noticed a significant difference in my performance and recovery time...along with more balanced hormones and reduced cortisol levels!
Here is a brief guide of what exercises to do during the four phases of your menstrual cycle:
Follicular Phase-Cardio Focused Training: During the follicular phase, your energy and stamina will start to increase due to a rise in hormones such as estrogen. This is the perfect time to increase cardio-focused workouts/training.
Running, hiking, biking, jump rope, swimming, strength training.
Ovulatory Phase-Strength Focused Training: In the ovulatory phase, your energy and stamina will be at their peak due to high testosterone and estrogen levels! This is the perfect time to increase the intensity of your workouts. During this phase, try to push yourself by increasing duration, speed, and/or weight.
Weightlifting, HIIT workouts, spin classes, CrossFit.
Luteal Phase-Restorative Exercise: During the luteal phase, your energy and stamina will slowly start to decrease. This phase is when many women experience PMS. During the first half of this phase, you can continue strength training and cardio but lower the intensity as your stamina starts to decrease. More relaxed workouts are best as your period approaches, as heavy workouts during this phase could delay your period.
Weightlifting, swimming, walking, pilates.
Menstrual Phase-Low Impact Exercise: During the menstrual phase, your body goes through a taxing process, and energy levels and desire for movement is generally low. Keeping exercises low-impact and restorative is ideal during this phase. Rest and recovery are also needed in this phase...so rest without guilt!
Try walking, stretching, pilates, or yoga.
This whole concept may seem a little intimidating if you aren't currently practicing cycle-syncing, but with a little tracking, time, and patience...it could optimize your health and support hormone balance! While these are guidelines of cyclical fitness, always tune in with your personal energy levels and symptoms! (As they can vary month by month.) You can also pair this concept with other training programs...trust me when I say it will make a difference!
Need more guidance or information about cycle-syncing?
Read my previous post: https://www.destinedforwellness.com/post/so-what-is-cycle-syncing or sign up for my Holistic Hormone Coaching Program, where I help you learn about, track, and cycle-sync nutrition and exercise with the phases of your cycle!