Is training on your period good? This is a frequently asked question I get from clients and followers so I am here to answer that question for you all ... and you might be surprised at the answer 👀
The main hormones we are going to focus on today are Progesterone and Estrogen. The rise and fall of these hormones play a huge factor in how you feel and perform during different parts of your cycle.
During your menstrual cycle, your hormone cycle - rising and falling of major hormones, can hinder but also help your fitness development depending on the types of training methods you focus on. As a woman, our body undergoes a variety of changes throughout the month in the following phases:
- Menstruation - this is the time you are on your period. During these times your estrogen levels are low.
- Follicular phase - this is the time from the start of your period until ovulation. This phase starts with lower estrogen levels during menstruation then slowly starts building up until ovulation!
- Ovulation - this is when your body releases an egg - during and leading up to this is when your estrogen levels are highest
- Luteal Phase - this phase starts after ovulation and until menstruation. Estrogen decreases while Progesterone is produced and peaks and then drops at the end of this phase right before menstruation.
How Your Hormones Affect Your Training
During menstruation, which is the start of your cycle, your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest which can help you with strength and power gains. During this time you should focus on your heavier weight lifting with strength training weight ranges. When your hormones drop they increase your metabolism and fatigue you quicker; that being said you should avoid high intensity cardiovascular workouts during this time - cut back during your PMS and your week of menstruation.
During your mid follicular phase (After menstruation), ovulation & early luteal phase your estrogen levels will peak. You can identify this phase when you find yourself feeling weaker and not performing as well with heavy weight training. During this stage make sure you are staying conscious of how your body is feeling and performing - due to the higher female hormones in your body you are more prone to injury in this stage so make sure to cut back on your weight and practice more high volume, light weight training (example below), higher intensity body weight cardio or biking. Don't forget - taking a week off of really heavy weights will do less damage to your progress than injuring yourself and being out for weeks or even months.
Right after ovulation during the luteal stage (right before your period) your estrogen levels will drop, and progesterone levels will increase. Estrogen helps increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, while progesterone can actually have a depressing affect on your mood - so combining those two hormone switches together?... yep, we're talking PMS fatigue and moodiness. During pms training is a great idea, however your decreased serotonin and the depressing affect of progesterone can really put a damper on your self image, relationship with the gym and even overall outlook! You just have to get there girl, and the positive affects of the natural endorphin high that training will give you will give you some relief from the moodiness and cramping that we are gifted with every month. During this stage light exercise like yoga, light stretching, walks etc. can really help increase your mood, outlook and keep you on track with your training - if you're going to take a break from lifting weights this is the time to replace that with a lighter form of activity!
Try some of our favourite stretches for PMS; hold each for 30s-1min:
Main Take Aways
YES! Training on your period is good - but during certain times of the month certain types of training really can be and should be optimized to get you your best results. And don't forget, light exercise can be used as a therapy against PMS in the luteal phase!
Training based on your cycle can help you actually see MORE progress because you are focusing on what your body can do better at different times of the month while preventing injuries - WIN WIN!
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Team TFY 💪