Exercise for your cycle? Yes! Three things to know

By pre and post natal trainer and guru Natalie Ferris @natalief_pt

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you go to the gym and you’re firing on all cylinders and then the next day (with apparently no real change) you feel rubbish and can barely do anything at all? Well, like with most things, its all down to your hormones so here is what you need to know:

FOLLICULAR PHASE: Feeling good and fighting fit! This is the first stage of your cycle and occurs between day one (first day of your period) and ovulation (which is an egg being released from the follicle). Most women feel at their perkiest and most energised around this stage - all down to our good old friend biology which is priming you to be at your most attractive to help you get pregnant. Interestingly enough, the hormone estrogen is at its highest which plays a part in this. It is known for being positive for mood, energy and strength - so during this phase you are more likely to feel good, energised and experience improved physical strength at this stage. The plus point is that due to the increase in estrogen the body will be able to cope and recover from a greater training volume and intensity than the next phase, so if you want to go a bit harder - technically this is the time to do it (remember though for fertility overall it is best not to be extreme with exercise).

LUTEAL PHASE: A bit more mixed: This is the time between ovulation and menstruation - and is when implantation can potentially occur. Initially there is a dip in your estrogen levels, but it then rises again along with the hormone progesterone. During this phase as a result of your hormonal shifts there will be variability in your energy levels, mood changes and a bit more of a compromised ability to recover from training plus of course that pre period bloating. On top of this if an egg has been fertilised, then this is the time that implantation could potentially occur - so, at this stage you may benefit from reducing overall load and using more moderate weights (which is probably what you’ll feel like doing anyway). Exercise is still good however, its about staying away from the extremes.

TRANSITION PHASE: Your period. DIfferent women are affected in different ways by their period. Some people feel strong and are able to exercise at more intensity whereas others don't feel so good and prefer lighter workouts. The focus should be on supporting the body. Overall load can be reduced, especially, if you suffer from stomach cramps and pain. Concentrate on skills and technique work: yoga, body weight exercises or lighter loads and if you feel - give yourself permission to rest your body during these few days.

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.