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Women's health

How to cycle sync your workouts

Yes, cycle syncing is a thing. Learn how you can harness your period for ultimate performance.

Clinically reviewed on 22/4/2022 by Bryony Lathbury

You may have noticed, at different times throughout the month, some days you feel (and perform) like an Olympic athlete and others, well you’re sofa-bound, hot water bottle in hand and snacks within a 1ft radius. We get it, it’s hard. But did you know your hormones affect everything, including how you work out? Join us as we dive into a practical, advice-focused guide for how to maximise your workouts, in a safe, healthy and productive way.

Connecting your workout to your monthly cycle

 

The term ‘cycle syncing’ refers to optimising your monthly menstrual cycle to fit with your lifestyle. And, research has shown, by learning to harness your hormones and matching workouts to the different phases in our cycle, we can improve everything from stress to mood and performance 1,2

Menstral cycle chart

Diagram explaining the four phases of the menstrual cycle:

 

Phase 1 – Menstruation (5 days)

Phase 2 – Follicular phase (6 days)

Phase 3 – Ovulation (5 days)

Phase 4 – Luteal phase (12 days).

Based on an average 28 day cycle.

Menstrual: Think stretchy but strong movements


This is where your progesterone and oestrogen levels are at their lowest, meaning bloating and PMS may be rearing their heads… anything that can increase endorphins, serotonin and blood flow is bound to decrease these symptoms. So, think Yoga, Pilates and some gentle strength workouts. Basically, you want to negate the ‘negative’ effects of your bleed by replenishing serotonin and dopamine with this gentle approach to exercise and nourish your body.
 

Workout overview: Yoga, Pilates, Strength workouts

Follicular: The path of (some) resistance - plus a little cardio to get your heart pumping

 

Coming in to your ‘Follicular’ phase, your energy should be beginning to rise. Think about upping your strength and resistance training whilst including some light cardio – if you feel like it. Why? This phase is when your body is more receptive to building muscle mass, so use this time wisely! Why not mix up jogging with walking weighted lunges and overhead squat presses to get the most out of this phase.
 

Workout overview: Light cardio, Dynamic strength 

Ovulation: bring the energy!

 

This is your peak, you highest energy phase where you should be performing at your best and, doing it with ease thanks to higher levels of oestrogen and testosterone. Athletes have been known to try to time performances with this phase to maximise their results. In ‘normal’ terms this can look like intense HIIT sessions, circuit training and cardio.
 

Workout overview: HIIT, circuits, cardio

England Rugby trusted healthcare provider logo

As the trusted healthcare partner to England Rugby, and as part of our 1 million comfortable conversations campaign, we sat down with the Red Roses, and female members of the amateur game to talk periods.
 

How comfortable are they talking about them and how do they use them to their advantage on the pitch?

Luteal: Low, slow and serotonin boosting

 

The Luteal phase is very much a phase of two halves. At the beginning, progesterone rises which, for some, can have a depressant effect. The aim of this phase should be to really tune into your body, including low impact movement to boost serotonin and focus on sculpting and restorative movements. With performance dipping, this is the time for Yoga and gentle Pilates and sculpting movements. Rest and restore.

 

Workout overview: Yin Yoga, Pilates, walking

 

Listening to your body is a superpower and matching your workout choices to your period will ensure you get the most physically, mentally and emotionally from your workouts. Happy training!

Lady Garden and Simplyhealth lockup logo

And, this year, we are delighted to be partnering with women’s health charity The Lady Garden for their 2022 challenge on May 14th, all in aid of raising awareness and funds to support the improvement of gynae health of women around the country and beyond. So grab your trainers and see here how you can get involved!

If you’re feeling a little unfit, using a training plan can be a great way to tackle building up to a longer run. The Government’s Couch to 5K is great for beginners or those wanting to improve their fitness and stamina.

Author Kelly Maskell

Written by Kelly Maskell - Simplyhealth Marketing Executive 

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Related guide

 

A guide to women's health

Other articles around women's health, including menopause and pelvic health, written with the support of the Lady Garden Foundation.