Fitness for every phase: the best workouts for your entire cycle

By Nikki Michelsen

Oct 3, 2022

Fitness for every phase: the best workouts for your entire cycle
Let’s get real, wiggling into our fitness gear and suffocating ourselves trying to squeeze into a sports bra isn’t the first thing we jump to do when we’ve just got our period. But just because we bleed every month doesn’t mean we’ve got to hibernate for a week under the duvet spooning a hot water bottle (although that’s definitely a part of it). 
We’re making a pledge to start listening to our bodies and working with Mother Nature, not against her, so we can understand what our bodies really need and make the most of every day. Who’s with us? By focusing on the positives that each season of our cycle brings to us we can harness our energy and fuel ourselves accordingly. Our cycle is a blessing — ok, yes, it’s a pain in the ass at times, but a blessing all the same — and knowing the science behind how our body works so we can slay every single day is actually cool AF. 
We bleeders know that our periods have a huge effect on how we feel throughout our cycle. We have a “monthly rotation of hormones, which have powerful effects on our bodily system, emotions and mood,” said Dr. Emma Ross, co-head of physiology at the English Institute of Sport (EIS).”This difference alone has the potential to mean we adapt to training differently at different points of their cycle.” Babes, there’s a reason you don’t feel like joining your online HIIT class this week. It’s called science. Let’s tune out all the BS and tune into what our bodies are really trying to tell us throughout our cycle.
The Stages of Your Cycle and What They Mean For Your Energy Levels
Stage 1: Menstruation (Day 1-5)
Period days = chocolate, joggers and eating all the carbs. But this isn’t just because your group chat is telling you that you deserve it (btw, you do). Your cravings actually serve a very worthy purpose: your body is under a whole load of stress RN and is using up a lot more energy that would usually be put to good use at a tough spin class (remember those?), so those extra calories you’re craving aren’t all in vain. Take a day off huns and go with the menstrual flow. Your body is working extra hard for you right now and could use some TLC.
Avoid: Crazy HIIT workouts and low cal diets. 
Gravitate towards: epsom salt baths, long walks and slow, nourishing yoga classes. 
Stage 2: The Follicular Phase (Day 6-14)
Mating season is here, lovers. Your reproductive hormones are increasing and the extra testosterone floating around is a great excuse to do a killer workout and shake off the cobwebs from last week. Extra estrogen will make you feel more extroverted during this time so grab it whilst you can: take a fire selfie, pitch that idea you’ve been holding back to your colleges and go and show those kettlebells who’s boss.
Avoid: Anything that slows you down
Gravitate towards: Pushing your limits, taking on challenges and making Bad B*tch Decisions
Phase 3 — The Ovulatory Phase (Day 15-17)
There’s a reason you’re feelin’ summertime fine RN, and it’s because estrogen and testosterone are at their peak. Your energy levels are flying so this is a great time to squeeze into that sports bra and clock a minute off your best 5k run time around the block. That extra get-up-and-go feeling you’ve got in your belly won’t stick around for long — next week you’ll start winding down, so take advantage whilst you can. 
Avoid: Re-scheduling workouts for next week
Gravitate towards: Crushing goals, high-frequency BAEs and intense workouts
Phase 4 – The Luteal Phase (Day 18-28)
For this last stage of our cycle, we say hello sleepy head to a whole load of progesterone — a relaxing hormone that aids with sleep and relieves anxiety. Mother Nature’s nudging us to chill and slow down our activity levels and give some extra time to self-care, so it’s okay not to feel as motivated during this stage. You might start experiencing symptoms of PMS like bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, anxiety and moodiness. Instead of forcing yourself to “get it together,” try to be gentle with yourself by sticking to light activity and nourishing yourself with all the comfort foods and yummies in your kitchen cupboards. 
Avoid: high expectations and over-exertion
Gravitate towards: self-care, low-impact exercise, stretching and slow, gentle exercises 
Alongside this, we need to remember that it’s 2021 and we don’t have to put up with our crazy hormone levels anymore. CBD supplements like yours, hormonally are an all-natural way to help balance your hormones and soothe those moodier stages of your cycle. Reducing inflammation by lowering cortisol levels (the stressy hormone) while activating serotonin receptors (the feel-good hormone) helps reduce inflammation and switch your cramps to zen mode. If you’re going to let anyone into your bubble, let it be some drops of CBD goodness. 
The more educated we become about the way our body works, the more comfortable we’ll feel throughout our cycle. Knowing when we can expect a dip in energy makes those sluggish days a lot less gloomy and a lot more manageable. Being on your period is uncomfortable enough, without putting pressure on ourselves and giving into false versions of reality that make us believe we need to look and feel like Gwyeneth Paltrow every day. Even Gwyeneth Paltrow doesn’t feel like Gwyeneth Paltrow every day.
Go easy on yourself, babe. 
Words by: Issy McGlashen, a self-confessed wellness warrior living in Ibiza who gravitates towards anything that’s good for the soul. She’s somewhere in-between a yogi who will sage away every single one of your problems and a tomboy who tosses her hair in a bun and listens to gangsta rap kind of girl. Her advice to you will always be you need better skincare and more green juice.
Image credit Los Muertos Crew from Pexels