Let’s talk about periods. That inconvenient (and seriously painful) reminder that we aren’t with children.
Look, I know how painful it can be getting out of bed let alone getting yourself to the gym when your period suddenly hits. And for a week out of every month, you find yourself seeking heat packs and bed over a sweaty, exhausting HIIT session.
But have you ever wondered how your menstrual cycle effects your training? Have you questioned whether or not that one week off per month is the only option?
I have, and that’s why I decided to search the web for insight into how women can make their periods work WITH them, and not against them when it comes to exercising.
The result? I’ve come up with some simple (but effective) tips to get the most out of that one painful week every month, and all the rest so that you can carry on killing your workouts like the weapons you are!
Time Your Training
First and foremost, we should all be timing our training around our menstrual cycles. But in order to do this, we need to understand the four main phases of our cycles. In a nut shell, the initial phase begins on the first day of your period and is called menstruation, and last’s up until the last day of our period. The second stage of the cycle called the follicular phase and begins at the same time as the menstruation phase, but lasts up to one week longer. From there, your body moves into ovulation which lasts just 24 hours. Lastly, your body enters the luteal phase which is where your body prepares itself for another cycle.
During menstruation is where you often feel the most pain, so you can let your body rest during this short time if needed. Once the menstruation phase ends, you should begin training at your regular intensity. However, the most important phase to keep in mind when training is the luteal phase.
During this last phase of the cycle, your body produces increased amounts of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. This is when you should be increasing your intensity of training, because this phase ultimately primes your body to workout at very high intensities.
Vary Your Intensity
In regards to the intensity of your training, experts suggest that on certain days of your cycle, it can be beneficial to play around with your easy and hard days, as well as the type of training you are doing! So whether you decide to swap weights for cardio, HIIT for pilates or vice versa, it could have a remarkable impact on your body!
Varying your intensity and workouts is always a better option to just forgetting about exercise all together. So next time you think about staying home spooning your heat pack, really ask yourself how you’re feeling! If you think you can fit a small weights session in instead of a run, or pilates instead of HIIT… Do it! Your body will thank you later!
Create A Period Plan of Action (will vary for everyone)
Just relax. This is usually the most painful day of your cycle, and it won’t hurt to give yourself the day off! During this time, take care of yourself! Have a warm shower, drink some tea, and spoon your heat pack!
Day 2 & 3:
Day 2 and 3 of your cycle is still very sensitive for most, but you might find yourself treating these days exactly the same as day 1. If you really listen to your body and find that you feel better than day 1, why not try and go for a walk? Maybe even do some light weight training. This might not be the case for everyone, but if you can do even a small amount of exercise during these days, then you should! Exercising releases endorphins, and endorphins make us feel good! You will be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards!
Day 4 to 7:
The last few days of your cycle is where you generally experience the least amount of pain, with some of us even feeling none!
You should try to resume your usual training, adjusting your intensity as needed! You’ll be surprised how much energy you can actually put into a workout during these last few days of your cycle! So give it your best FKing go!
2 days Prior to Your Next Cycle:
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, when you enter the luteal phase, your body produces an increased amount of oestrogen and progesterone, which means you essentially have a window of time where your body will allow you to train even harder than usual! So during this time, hit the treadmill, or reach for the heavier weights and higher repetitions! If we have to suffer through 7 days of pain every month, why not get something out of it too!?
Sound manageable ladies? Let’s make this challenge a habit every month! And KILL IT all month long.