Sync Your Cycle: How to Workout Around Aunt Flow
If you haven’t read the book “Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti, I highly recommend it so you can begin to understand your endocrine system and how delicate our hormones can be. What is Syncing Your Cycle? I’m so glad you asked, my dear!
There's a time and place for everything. Ideally, we want to learn how to eat, move, and set up our work and social lives to maximize our chemistry at certain times of the month. I know that’s a lot to keep track of, so let’s start with movement and once you’re familiar with that, you can venture into the other realms of cycle syncing.
Every week, you’re 25% different because of your hormones, so why would you keep doing everything the same week to week? Anytime a client comes into workout and they feel sluggish and lackluster, I’m cued in that they’re probably approaching their menstrual phase. I’ve been cycle syncing for a few months and it has been an absolute game-changer.
1. First and foremost, LISTEN to your body.
The following are simply suggestions and guidelines, but your body knows best! Try to keep moving in some way because it will help lessen cramping, but if you're getting signals and biofeedback that your body is cranky.
2. Track Your Cycle
If you’re going to sync your cycle, you have to know where you’re at! My favorite period tracking app is called “My Flo” because it alerts you when you get into different phases of your cycle and also lets your track symptoms. It’ll cue you in on exactly what’s going on with your hormones so you can stop the guessing game. The length of each phase varies from woman to woman, so getting an app like this is awesome because it’ll track your specific cycle. After a few months, it should be pretty accurate.
3. Know the Phases
As a woman, there are four phases of our cycle. It’s important to know what’s going on in our bodies during these phases so we can exercise and even supplement nutrition around your cycle phases.
Phase One: 3-7 Days
Menstrual Phase- Rest + Light Activity. This is when Aunt Flow comes to town. You’ll want to take it easy during the first part of the week and nap when you’re feeling it. If you feel fatigued, it’s for good reason! Your body is sending you a signal to REST, so take it easy. During the last few days of this phase, you can add in some activity, but keep it light. Take walks and do light movement such as Pilates, stretching, or yoga. The biggest thing is to NOT feel guilty about taking time off exercise! If you listen to your body, you’ll have more energy throughout the rest of the phases.
Phase Two: 7-10 Days
Follicular Phase- HIIT workouts like TriCore Fire, spin class, CrossFit or Bikram yoga. During this phase, your hormones are all at low levels because of menstruation, but they’re slowly increasing back up. FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) is going up to help eggs mature in the ovary and this has a hormonal effect on your brain! It causes you to feel open to new beginnings and creativity. This would be the perfect time to try something new and mix up your exercise routine. Increased insulin sensitivity, along with an increase in pain tolerance are what make your workouts seem fun and energetic.
*Think about increasing your carb intake during this time! Try to get 1-2 servings of carbohydrate in within 30 minutes of your workout to avoid getting hangry later on.
Phase Three: 3-5 Days
Ovulation Phase- Strength Training. Estrogen and testosterone are both surging which means you have energy to burn! A lot of women report feeling stronger during their workouts in this phase and I’m one of those! I always notice that my squats and deadlifts feel effortless during this time. Try doing lower reps and higher weight with plenty of rest (2-3 minutes) in between each set. A routine like Strong Lifts, a 5x5 rep scheme, would feel good around this time.
Phase Four: 10-14 Days
Luteal Phase- Strength + Moderate Activity. The luteal phase is one phase of your menstrual cycle and happens right after ovulation. If you started a strength phase during ovulation, you can continue it through the first part of the luteal phase, but you’ll likely feel fatigued toward the end as you near menstruation. This would be a time to revisit Pilates, yoga, and walking as you come into the second half of the luteal phase.