How To Sync Workouts To Your Menstrual Cycle
Cycle syncing: no, it’s not when you and your friends all have your periods at the same time! Nope, cycle syncing your workouts is way more interesting (although we have to admit it’s pretty weird and cool when your period matches up with those you’re around. How does that happen?) Anyway, buckle up and get ready for learning something new!
Four phases of your cycle
Some people use “cycle” to refer to their periods… but your menstrual cycle actually contains the entire month (or so) from one period to the next. So here’s the deets on the four parts of your menstrual cycle (Note: Medically, the menstrual cycle has three phases, but for proponents of cycle syncing, menstruation is considered its own phase rather than being lumped together with the follicular phase).
- Menstrual phase: Day one of a new cycle starts the first day of your period. That marks the start of the menstrual phase of your cycle. This part lasts about seven days, although your period may be shorter or longer than that.
- Follicular phase: This phase lasts from approximately day seven to day 14. These are super rough estimates though; many women have periods longer or shorter than seven days, and not everyone ovulates on day 14.
- Ovulation phase: Around day 14 of your cycle (give or take a few days), your ovaries release an egg. Now, in order to cycle sync, do you need to know exactly when you ovulate? No! What you can do is assume you ovulate on the “textbook” day 14 for your cycle for that first month. After you’ve monitored a few cycles, you may find that your cycles last, say, 30 days. In that case, just divide your cycle in half and you can assume you ovulate on day 15.
- Luteal phase: Medically speaking, this phase lasts from the day you ovulate until you reach your next period, which is about 9-15 days. For cycle syncing, this phase consists of that last week before your period arrives.
Again, these are rough estimates. Just go with the flow (pun not intended, but much appreciated!), and once you get the hang of how long your cycles are, try to roughly divide that number into quarters. This method assumes a 28-day cycle, but if you have a 32-day cycle, each phase can be roughly divided into 8 days.
Cycle syncing your workouts
So let’s get down to it! Cycle syncing your workouts is all about doing workouts to specifically suit the unique phase of your monthly cycle you are in at any given point. Cycle syncing is all about listening to your body and taking advantage of the times it has energy to spare while giving it grace and love during those times (ahem, your period!) where it needs a little extra TLC. Here are some workout tips based on each point in your cycle:
Menstrual phase: During this phase, you will need to go easy on your body. Energy stores are low during this time. Focus on gentle, calm exercise. This is where yoga shines! Yoga is amazing for your period. Be in tune with your body and don’t push it to do any poses that feel hard during this time. Walking and Pilates are two other great options for your menstrual phase.
Follicular phase: This is where your energy is back on track! Get those intense workouts on. This is a good time to do HIIT workouts and other more vigorous stuff. More involved yoga poses are great during this period as well.
Ovulation phase: Your body is at its most fertile, so it’s almost no surprise it’s at its most energetic point too! This is the best time to push yourself to reach any workout goals you’ve been aiming for.
Luteal phase: A lot of people ask, “How do I work out a week before my period?” Why is that? For many, this is when PMS symptoms start showing up, and you start feeling ready to wind down again as your period approaches. Again, yoga is a great option, and you can probably do more poses during this phase than you can during your period.
And did you know you can cycle sync your skincare? Or your food? (Oh yes, we fell down quite the rabbit hole researching this blog post!) Happy researching and happy cycle syncing!