The Best Exercise For Every Stage Of Your Menstrual Cycle

The Best Type Of Exercise For Every Stage Of Your Menstrual Cycle

by | Sep 24, 2018

Next time you’re at the gym on your period, wondering why on earth you even left the house today, and spending way too much time taking sneaky looks at your butt in the mirror to a. check your pad isn’t showing and b. your tampon hasn’t leaked, just stop for a moment. Give yourself a massive hi-five… You’re part of the new generation who had recognised the awesome benefits of exercising full cycle!

CHEMICAL CHALLENGES 

But wait. Before you put together your fitness mission plan, you need to realise that we are faced with chemical challenges every month. The hormonal changes that happen during our cycle have big effects both mentally and physically, and your workout schedule should certainly take this into account.

Below are our top tips on how to get the most out of your exercise routine during each phase of your cycle.

Day 1-7: Menstruation

Hormones: Oestrogen and Progesterone levels are at their lowest, your body is using more glycogen (stored fuel) as its preferred energy source.

You feel: Blah. Crampy and Bloated, but mood improving as the week ticks along

Your workout: Get out of your comfy house pants and head to the gym for a turbo-charged workout! This low-hormone phase actually makes you a little more…uhhem.. ‘manlike’ (yes, really!). Cramping and backache aside, this week is the perfect time to push yourself with the most demanding exercises in your routine. Bootcamp yourself. Become a period ninja. Add in a few more reps, or one more exercises, and really push yourself. Metabolically you are burning fuel more efficiently, recovery is faster and pain tolerance higher. Oh, and those other menstrual symptoms? Studies have shown that within 10minute of exercising cramping reduces, back ache is eased, mood improves and mental alertness increases.    

Top Tip: Use work-out friendly sanitary products such as a Lunette menstrual cup or Modibodi period underpants to stop your ‘am I leaking’ paranoia

RELATED: 7 Period Myths That Need To Go Away Right Now 

running

Getty Images

DAY 8-14: PROLIFERATIVE PHASE

Hormones: Oestrogen levels start to rise slowly; your body prefers to burn fat as its fuel source.

You feel: Energetic, sexy, and gorgeous!

Your workout: Your dude-like powers are still with you but to a lesser degree. Keep up the high strength and intensity but now is also a good time to add in some endurance work while your body is burning a little more fat. Increase that time on the cross-trainer or rower by 5-10minutes, or increase your walking and running distances. With your brain power neither pre-occupied with period leaks or ovulation, this week is the perfect time to try a new class or sport. Aerial Zumba anyone?!

Top-tip: Although you’re still smashing out epic workout sessions, make sure you take your warm-up and cool-down stretches seriously. As you creep closer to ovulation your chance of injury can increase (yikes!)

DAY 15-21: LUTEAL PHASE

Hormones: Hormones reach their peak, and your high progesterone levels alter metabolism and how you handle heat.

You feel: less energetic, motivation slightly lower, a little moody

Your workout: Turn down the intensity a notch and concentrate on good form this week. Your energy levels and concentration will be a little lower, which means that epic set of box-jump you smashed out so easily last week can turn into a cringe-worthy stack and twisted ankle incident. And no-one wants that effect on their street cred. This week is a good chance to concentrate on some more endurance-focused exercises. Pair it with yoga or a stretch session.  

Top Tip: Beat the overheating effect by exercising in a gym (air-conditioned) or in the early morning, and keep your sodium/electrolyte fluids up.  

yoga

Getty Image

DAY 22-28: LUTEAL PHASE CONT…

Hormones: Oestrogen and progesterone slump – Hello PMS!

You feel: moody, bloated, un-motivated, anti-social

Your workout: Yep, you’re right, it’s time to curl on the couch with that bag of chips and watch Netflix…Hell no!! This is the week you really do need to drag your sorry self into your workout gear! Exercise will help improve that fluid retention and bloated middle. And the endorphin release that comes with exercise will actually lift your mood so that only half the people in your life will get their heads ripped off this week. Turn to mid-high intensity cardio sessions that will increase your heart rate such as cycling classes, jogging, and power yoga.

Top tip: Take a nourishing, hi-protein low GI post-workout snack in your gym bag. Consume within 20 minutes of finishing your session. Eat slowly and enjoy. This stops the post-workout ‘hangries’ (which is intensified with PMS!).

Just as no two bodies are the same, no two menstrual cycles are the same either. Some seem to breeze through it and for others it’s a real rollercoaster. While most health practitioners would suggest that exercising to help with menstrual cycle symptoms is better than doing nothing, tailer your sessions accordingly and listen to your body. This includes adding in rest days! (phew!) 

RELATED: What Happens To Your Body When You Skip Your Period

Recommended to you

8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.defineSlot(gamData.adUnit, [300, 250], 'gam_midarticle_pos2_3') .defineSizeMapping(gamData.sizeMap.midarticle) .setTargeting('pos', '2') .addService(googletag.pubads()); googletag.display('gam_midarticle_pos2_3'); });

New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?