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Zoe Rose Fitness

Your menstrual cycle and what it means for your workouts

We don’t often talk about how our menstrual cycle affects us. We all know the pain and discomfort of having our period but we don’t often talk about this when it comes to exercise. 

How your menstrual cycle affect your performance? 

We have different phases in our cycle. Firstly we have our ‘follicular phase’ – this is the time from your period to when you ovulate. We then have our ‘luteal phase’ – this is the time from ovulation to your period. 

The good

Different studies have shown that strength training during your follicular phase results in higher increases in muscle strength compared with doing the same strength session in the luteal phase. So if building strength is one of your main goals make sure your getting your sessions in before you ovulate. 

The not so good

What you can do during your fertile window is to spend longer wearing up and avoiding anything that involves over-stretching the muscles. Listen to your body as well, sometimes things may feel different during this time of the month so if it’s not feeling quite right maybe it’s time to leave for another day. 

Do you feel at some times of the month you just don’t have much endurance or you get tired more easily? Maybe you can’t reach your usual strength goals and everything feels a bit harder. This is most likely to be in your second part of your cycle. As your progesterone rises your body temperate does also. It can go up by at least 0.4C after ovulation and can stay high until mensuration.  This means that during your luteal phase you may not be able to perform at your best.

So what does all this mean?

It really depends on you and your body. Everyone is different and every period is different. My advice is to listen to your body. Also schedule your rest days during your luteal phase. Now this doesn’t mean you should not train at all during this phase, you can of course still improve your strength training here. However, tuning into your body can be a great way to see what is going on. 

Knowing what it going on with your body is great: firstly you won’t be so hard on yourself you you can’t hit PBs or everything is feeling that bit more difficult. If we know what is normal for us we can spot changes sooner.

If you’re not sure what’s going at all a great app to help you is called ‘clue’ and it helps you track your cycle and find out what is normal for you. This may be great for you if you want to plan your workouts. 

Should I exercise when I’m on my period? 

Of course! Exercise can be a great way to help ease the pain and discomfort and give us some much needed endorphin boost. However, you shouldn’t feel like you have to exercise if you really don’t feel like it. 

Here are Zoë Rose’s top tips on exercising on your period:

1 – Change your workout if you need to. If you are in a lot of discomfort and you really don’t feel like doing an intense workout – don’t. Instead listen to your body, you may be much better doing a lower intensity workout or just going for a walk. Both will help keep you active as well and helping ease the pain by moving. 

2 – Plan what you are going to wear for comfort. There is no point wearing tight leggings and a crop top if they feel really uncomfortable to exercise in that day. Instead wear something that is comfier and isn’t too tight.

3 – Don’t be afraid to go for it! If you are feeling good then go for it. You can actually reach PBs especially on HIIT style training when you are on your period due to the changes in your hormones. 

4 – Remember to stay hydrated. This is always very important, though be more mindful of this during your period.

5 – Listen to your body. If it is telling you to go easy, then go easy. If it is telling you to rest, rest. Trust your gut and respect what your body needs. 

If you have any questions or need extra support please email me. zoe@zoerosefitness.co.uk 

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