Have you ever tried to stick with an exercise program and some weeks you can push through really strong and have tons of energy and some weeks you just can’t handle the idea of spending 30-45 minutes doing cardio or HIIT? Or maybe you wish you could just take a slow stretch and rest day without messing up your “workout calendar”?
Do you look at people and wonder HOW in the world do they have the energy every single day to go on long runs, do strength training, or intense cardio?
Truth is, your hormone fluctuations throughout your cycle have a HUGE impact on your endurance, energy levels, mood, and even your muscles, joints and ligaments!
In fact, your hormones don’t love over-exercising. Or even doing the “wrong” *type* of exercise for the phase your body is in.
For a quick overview of each phase of your cycle, read this post.
Let’s talk about a few reasons WHY it’s so important to align your movement with your cycle.
Lower estrogen levels may mean you are less prone to injury during your period.
Right around ovulation, increased estrogen levels may make you slightly more prone to knee injuries, so knowing when you’re in this phase can potentially prevent injury.
Increased hormone levels and engaged social centers of the brain make the ovulatory phase a great time for social workouts in a group setting.
During the luteal phase, the hormonal fluctuations can cause you to have energy in the first half and feel sluggish in the second half. It’s okay to slow down in the second half of this phase to lighter exercises like yoga, walking, etc.
HIIT and intense cardio exercises increase the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is the stress hormone. When you are later in your luteal phase, you want to AVOID cortisol spikes in the mornings, meaning you want to avoid cardio-intense workouts. Here’s why: during the luteal phase, progesterone is your dominant hormone. Increases in cortisol can cause your body to have less progesterone. This can lead to symptoms of PMS. Basically, during your luteal phase you want to aim for slower, more strength and stretching based exercises over cardio intense exercises. Your hormones will thank you.
So you might be wondering, what types of exercises should I be doing in each phase?!
- Menstrual: take it easy! restorative yoga, walking, mat pilates, and light stretching. don't feel bad if all you can think about is the walk to your bed, either. your body is going through a lot right now, btw!
- Follicular: your energy is increasing & you're ready to mingle. try a new group class, dance, cardio, zumba, barre, or a combo of yoga and dance!
- Ovulatory: you likely have energy to burn. focus on incorporating HIIT, cardio, cycling, or power yoga
- Luteal: slow strength based training, slow stretching, flow yoga, pilates, barre, walking
I hope this helped you realize that our cyclical bodies aren't meant to be pushed into running or HIIT every single day of the month. And if you're feeling like your body is trying to tell you something, you should listen! it knows what it's doing after all!