Phases of a Period Workout

Woman jogging on dirt road

Here are some great exercises for each phase of your menstruation cycle.
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Building on our blog post from last week about period workouts, here are some specific exercises for each phase of your menstrual cycle, straight from GirlU founder Mayling Kajiya.

 

Menstruation Phase

Day 1 signals the first day of menstruation (bleeding). I wouldn't recommend doing too much on those days because you are probably uncomfortable. A simple walk or hike is sufficient.

 

Follicular Phase (Yay My Period is Over!)

Right after your period is over (maybe day 5) is the optimal time to really kick into high gear.

Yay my Period is Over Workout (YMPO Workout)

Warm up - light jog and stretch

3 rounds for time, no stopping between sets:

20 Burpees

15 Chair Stepups

15 Chair Pushups

20 Chair Tricep Dips

 

Ovulation Phase

It's time to turn it down a notch and go for longer, low-intensity exercises

Warm up - light jog or stretch

1 round:

20 Walkouts with legs straight, walking body out into a pushup position and walking back with straight legs

20 Forward Lunge with arms raised over your head and back knee almost touching the floor

20 Side Lunge (Lateral) with knees inline, toes and pushing your butt back

20 Curtsy Lunge

30 Ab Curls with legs resting 90 degrees on a chair

 

PMS Phase

This is the perfect time to go for a light jog, 3 miles max. Try going outside so you can enjoy the scenery! Or check out that Hatha yoga class that you’ve been eyeing. Even a meditation class would be great.

Your Workout and Your Period

Young woman running in forest

Working with your period, rather than against it, can help you plan a great period workout.
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While it’s true that exercise is a great way to deal with period and PMS symptoms like bloating, it’s also true that sometimes you just don’t feel up to it. Have you ever noticed that your energy levels and exercise abilities change depending on where you are in your cycle? Working with your flow rather than against it when planning a period workout can make exercise a whole lot easier.

Rob Kominiarek, an Ohio physician who specializes in fitness and hormones, says that hormonal shifts during your period can affect your ability to exercise at optimal levels. For example, during the first week of your cycle, when you’re actually menstruating, your estrogen levels are lowest, which encourages your body to burn carbohydrates instead of fat. The takeaway? “Despite fatigue and muscle soreness, fast workouts are ideal and may feel easier on these days,” Kominiarek says. “This is the time to train and make gains in your fitness regimen.” Of course you should pay attention to your body and not push too hard! But the first week of your period workout is a great time to test your limits.

The next (roughly) 14 days of your cycle involve ovulation, which is a good time to slow things down a bit for your workout. Be sure to do plenty of warm-ups to loosen muscles and joints.

The luteal phase of your cycle, weeks three and four, involves a hormonal shift: your progesterone levels rise as your estrogen levels fall, which could lead to feeling more sluggish. In fact, according to Stacy Sims, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Stanford University, you’re actually less tolerant of heat because progesterone levels delay your sweat response, so it takes longer to cool off. The trick here, according to Sims, is to take it a bit easier with lower intensity exercises—an easy run instead of interval training, for example, or simpler yoga poses. Or, if you’re really feeling lousy, take the day off! Just make sure to get back on track as soon as you’re feeling better.

Being mindful of where you are in your cycle can make for a much more effective period workout. With a bit of planning, you can get the most out of your workouts—and still give yourself time to take it easy when you need to!

(Looking for specific workouts for the different phases of your cycle?  Stay tuned....)