Updated: Sep 11, 2021
Cycle syncing seems to be a buzzword these days, and for good reason! It is no secret that our monthly menstrual cycle impacts our overall health and wellbeing. So why isn’t this something we are taught more about?
Alyssa Vitti, functional nutritionist and the founder of Flo Living, spent 15 years researching female hormone cycles and menstruation after being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Her significant finding was that women have cyclical needs that shift during the natural shifts in your cycle. She also found that most fitness programs were tailored to men, of whom have completely different hormone fluctuations from women!
So let’s briefly talk about the menstrual cycle.
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet or fitness regime).
The menstrual cycle is split into 4 phases (some experts say 3...but we will stick with 4 for now):
Menstruation (technically part of follicular) ~ days 1-5
Follicular ~ days 6-14
Ovulation ~ days 15-17
Luteal ~ days 18-28
(this is a rough estimate based on an average 28 day cycle - but will shift if your cycle is shorter or longer!)
The best thing to do to figure out your cycle is to track it! You can use an app on your phone, or do it the old fashioned way on a calendar. Keeping track of your symptoms (such as basal temp, cervical mucus, etc) can help you better determine when you are in each phase/ovulating.
Okay so now that we’ve covered the phases - how do you tailor your fitness routine to match up with your cycle?
During the menstrual phase (aka when you have your period) energy is naturally low. Estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest, and rest is key here.
Exercises like restorative yoga and walks are great! Or if you want to just take a full rest day, that works too!
During the follicular phase, estrogen and progesterone are starting to rise, and so are your energy levels.
This is when you can start adding in light strength based workouts, as well as light cardio (jogging, hiking) to your routine. Testosterone is lower during this phase, so you may notice that your stamina is decreased.
Once you hit ovulation, energy is at an all time high! This is when estrogen peaks (which makes sense - because if you’re trying to get pregnant, this is the time!), and progesterone and testosterone are rising.
This is a great time to do high intensity interval training (HIIT), cycling, running, circuit training, strength-based workouts, kickboxing, etc. You may feel like you have stamina for longer workouts and may even leave them feeling more energized!
During the luteal phase, your body is getting ready to prepare for menstruation, so hormone levels start to decrease (unless of course you get pregnant). You’ll likely have more energy in the first half of this phase, and it will slowly drop off. Light-moderate exercises are great such as flow based yoga, strength training, pilates, aerobics.
Of course, every person is different, and you may have more (or less) energy in each of these phases!
The key to cycle syncing is to listen to YOUR body and notice where you energy levels are at, and tailor your workout schedule accordingly!
I personally track my cycle using the Flo app and that has worked really well for me! I definitely notice changes in my energy levels depending where I am at in my cycle, and I will note them in my app. I currently am in the process of tweaking my workout schedule to sync up, and so far that is going well! I feel like my motivation is so much lower when I am in the menstrual and luteal phase, and not putting the expectation on myself to do hard workouts helps keep me consistent!
Have you tried cycle syncing? Are you going to try it? Let me know in the comments!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.
Flo Living https://www.floliving.com/about/