Exercising During Your Period: Fitness and Your Menstrual Cycle
Periods are a completely natural but sometimes inconvenient part of life for women. For a long time, my periods got in the way of me living my life and would affect how I trained. Because I’m one of those unlucky girls who suffer from debilitating cramps, my monthly cycle would throw off my workouts completely.
Understanding my body more has helped me learn how to “go with the flow” (pardon the pun) instead of retreating to bed and feeling sorry for myself for one week a month. Instead, I make better choices and listen to my body, and I’m able to continue my training throughout the month. I’d love to help you do the same! Below, you’ll find a guide to help you continue to train and feel great (or as great as possible), no matter which part of your cycle you’re in.
Phase 1 (Days 1-5)
On the first days of your cycle, the loss of blood combined with lower levels of the hormone progesterone can lead to muscle fatigue. The urge to curl up in bed is completely justified, but, most doctors recommend that women get out and exercise during their period – but for less time, and with more intensity. A HIIT workout like those found in the 8fit app is perfect.
Phase 2 (days 5-14)
In the post-menstrual phase (days 5 to 14) our oestrogen and testosterone levels rise. This puts us in a better mood, as we have more energy, we are more cheerful and feel stronger.
During this period, our bodies will rock strength training. It’s a great opportunity to make 8fit workouts more challenging by adding in a resistance band, or by working out with “time under tension”, which is a great way to stimulate muscle growth. To include this in your 8fit workouts, I recommend a tempo of 3:2:3. For example with the exercise low squats, lower yourself down for 3 seconds, hold yourself there for 2 seconds and then raise yourself up in 3 seconds again. You can do this with the most compound and basic movements like squats, push-ups and chin-ups. This will ensure you’re building strength and gaining muscle.
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Phase 3 (Days 15-28)
During the premenstrual phase (from day 15 until we start our period again) our estrogen levels peak. This high level causes our body temperature to rise, we store fat easier and use it as the preferred method of energy. This metabolic change, from using carbs to fat as energy, makes steady state cardio the best choice. Head out for a long walk or run and finish it off with an 8fit yoga workout.
The bottom line when it comes to exercising during your period
Whatever stage of your cycle you’re in, don’t let it get in the way of your goals and feeling awesome! Exercise smart and listen to your body, and you’ll get the results you deserve.
Periods made easy: We wrote an article about two of our favorite eco-friendly period products. Be sure to check it out!