I know as active, busy women, we’re often looking for ways to fire up our workouts, to get the most out of our daily movement, and find that balance between going hard and fitting in recovery.
Did you know that you can actually utilize your hormones to help you boost your energy and fire up your fitness results?
Whether your periods hit like clock work or are a little sporadic, which is common in midlife and perimenopause, there is an advantage to training around your cycle.
You may notice you have more energy earlier in your cycle for HIIT type workouts or muscle building strength training sessions then you do later in your cycle when your body is craving more rest and recovery type fitness options.
It’s a great idea to program strength training early in your cycle and focus more on low impact and recovery as you near menstruation.
The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period, and generally lasts from one to five days. You may experience common symptoms like fatigue, cramps, aches, moodiness, and bloating. This may feel like the perfect time to slow down, but exercise can actually help with symptoms. Lower intensity and lower volume strength training are a great option during this phase of your cycle.
The Follicular Phase is the time from your period to the start of ovulation, usually day six through day 14. During this phase estrogen is higher which has been shown to help build muscle and strength. Take advantage of this powerful phase in your cycle by lifting heavy!
As you move into phase three, Ovulation, you may notice a boost in energy because your testosterone is higher during this phase. The ovulation phase usually begins on day 14 in a regular 28-day menstrual cycle. Mid-cycle is the perfect time to go all out!! High intensity training (HIIT) or circuit style workouts, speed training, killer cardio sessions are great options.
You may notice you are more hungry during this phase. It’s common for your caloric needs to increase because your resting metabolic rate increases slightly in the last half of your cycle. But the good news is you’re also burning more. Loading up on fiber rich veggies and fruit during this time can help you balance out your hormones.
As your energy slows around day 15 as part of the final phase, or premenstrual Luteal Phase, you may feel the need to slow down just a bit. Listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. Opt for active recovery or lower impact workouts like swimming, walking, yoga, Pilates or light weight/body weight training. You may also notice that your body needs more rest days in between sessions. It’s okay to take that full recovery day to let your body work its magic.
You may also notice your body is craving more protein at this point in your cycle. Lentils, seeds, and lean meats are great options to keep your energy up.
It’s important to listen to the cues your body is sending when it comes to properly programming your training. High intensity, high volume training, or excessive exercise can cause hormonal imbalances, something women in perimenopause are already dealing with. The goal is to train smarter. The “more is better” mindset is not the case when it comes to staying healthy and active, especially in midlife.
While post-menopasual women no longer have a cycle,it’s important that you are still listening to your body and working with your energy levels throughout the month. Post-menopausal women should still include cardio, strength/resistance training, balance, flexibility, and mobility/range of motion training in their fitness plan.
Do you notice your cycle affecting your workouts? Do you switch up your training/programming throughout the month according to your menstrual cycle? Tag @Karen_C, I’d love to hear what you do to maximize your workouts while listening to your body’s cues.