Menstrual Cycle: Working Out During Period

Have you ever noticed that during one workout you might feel great but on the next one you feel exhausted and just want to skip the training? If yes, don’t worry, it’s absolutely okay. One of the main reasons for that is our female cycle, which causes huge changes in our hormone system during the whole period.

What is a menstrual cycle itself? 

The menstrual cycle is the period from the first day of menstruation to the first day of the next one. In most cases, it lasts about 28-32 days. The cycle begins with the first day of your “critical days” when the endometrium (inner layer of the uterus) peels off.

It has been maturing throughout the cycle in order to ensure conditions for implantation of the embryo.

Phase 1. Follicular phase

The follicular phase starts on the very first day of the menstrual cycle. It can last from 7 to 22 days but usually it takes 14 days.

During this period levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen rapidly increase, which causes a growth of the dominant follicle containing an egg and maturing in one of the ovaries. Also at this time, a new endometrium grows and matures.

During the first five days you’d better listen to your body. If

you feel bad and have extreme pain, don’t torture yourself with workouts. I recommend doing some light training or even skipping the workout at all. But if you feel good, you can do exercises of moderate intensity avoiding ABS training. Focus on the upper body exercises and, of  course, stretching as it helps to reduce the pain.

During the second part of the follicular phase, the level of estrogen and FSH rises, while progesterone and body temperature stay at the same level. During this period you may feel energetic and fresh, your body is prepared for intense workouts, which is connected with increased sensitivity to insulin and an increase in the pain threshold. There’s no better time to train hard and aim at muscle and strength.

Phase 2. What happens before ovulation?

Between the 13th and 15th day of the cycle, ovulation occurs. That phase of the cycle is called periovulatory, which means “before, during, and after ovulation”.

Shortly before ovulation, estrogens reach their maximum level, then evenly decrease, while the body temperature slightly increases and remains at the same level until the end of the cycle. Also, the metabolism is accelerated, and insulin sensitivity is reduced.

Phase 3. What’s the ovulation itself?

Ovulation is the exit of an egg from a mature follicle. Under the influence of the peak release of estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH), the dominant follicle bursts, the egg enters the abdominal cavity. That’s the time when pregnancy is highly possible.

During this phase it’s better to reduce the training intensity by 50%. You should also let your ABS and lower body have some rest these days. Pay attention that during this interval you shouldn’t learn new exercises (especially those that are rather complicated) due to diffusion of focus.

Phase 4. The luteal phase

The luteal phase lasts from ovulation to the first day of the next menstruation. In average, its duration is 14 days (10-16 days).

During this part of the cycle, a hormone called progesterone plays a major role. It produces the corpus luteum, into which the burst follicle is transformed.

This is the time when we, women, note the weight loss and we love this period so much. We feel so inspired that we’re ready to conquer the world. 

The period between the 16th and 24th is the perfect time for high-intensity workouts. During this period you can also set your personal records since this time is the best time to develop your strength and speed results.

Phase 5. Oh, this premenstrual syndrome!

In the middle of the luteal phase, which is, approximately on the 21st day of the cycle, progesterone reaches the maximum level and then begins to decline.

During the second part of the luteal phase, you may feel tired and sleepy as well as lack of energy, irritability, oppression and bad mood overall. The body is not tuned to hard and high-intensity workouts, but due to an increase in the tone of the sympathetic nervous system, changes in water-salt metabolism and cardiovascular function several days before menstruation, a well-known premenstrual syndrome occurs. So try to avoid overloads and high-intensity activities. The body is not prepared for all of this, and it will resist in every possible way. Listen to your body and don’t argue with your nature.

Phase 6. Our critical days

It’s not a secret that during the whole cycle all the features of our body are changing: both psychological and physiological. 

And in this time all that you should do is to listen to your body and your well-being. If pain bothers you, don’t try to overcome it, just skip the workout and don’t blame yourself for that.

But if you feel good you definitely can continue your workouts. This will even cheer you up, as long as workouts boost the production of endorphins. What’s more, physical activity improves blood flow, can reduce pain in the stomach and lower back.

Remember that the periods between the 6th and the 12th day as well as between the 16th and the 24th are the best time to do high-intensity workouts.

You can’t disagree that the menstruation cycle takes a huge part in our lives and lasts for such a long time, so it is really important to know what it is and how it works. Use this knowledge to adjust your life and make your workouts as comfortable as it’s possible.

Balance it and remember, whatever you do, you do it for yourself!