This one is for the uterus owners…
If you’ve noticed that sometimes you’re absolutely bursting with vital energy and feel like you could take on the world and other times you struggle to peel yourself off the couch, brush your hair, and make a proper meal—tune in.
Your body is likely communicating with you, whether you’re hyper aware of the different stages in your cycle or not.
If you just read “different stages of your cycle” and heard a record scratch, we’ll get you caught up. Our cycle does not simply consist of “on period and off period.” It’s broken into four different hormonal phases:
We encourage all uterus-owners to familiarize themselves with these cycles in order to optimize their nutrition and fitness efforts. Trust us, you’ll see a huge difference when you start connecting inward.
But if you don’t trust us, trust Bailey Brown, the founder of the Pilates- and cycle-syncing workout app, Align. She breaks down just why it’s so important to work out according to your cycle:
“Something I wish I knew sooner is that so many fitness and nutrition programs are created with men’s bodies in mind. Men have a 24-hour hormone cycle, so they feel pretty much the same every day. For men, more is more. They can go faster and harder with workouts every day and get great benefits from their routine.
“For women, our bodies are so much more complex. Our hormones fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycle, going through four phases every 28 days or so. The hormone levels in each phase dictate our metabolism, our ability to burn fat and build muscle, and our energy and moods. This is why it’s so important to work out differently in each phase to support your body and hormones and ultimately, get better results,” Bailey explains.
Should you be changing your workouts for all four phases? Ideally yes.
“Following a workout routine that is tailored to the phases of your cycle can help you get maximum benefits, connect to your feminine body, and avoid disrupting natural hormone levels,” Bailey says. “Aligning with your cycle helps you know when it’s best to push yourself and work towards your fitness goals. It also shows you when it’s better to slow down, do more restorative movement, and take more rest. Working with your body’s natural rhythms instead of fighting against them is incredibly powerful.”
So what types of workouts are best for each phase?
“This begins with Day One of a new cycle. During this phase, your hormone levels are at their lowest, and any intense exercise can actually be counterproductive and cause fat storage. It’s best to stick to gentle movements like walking, yoga, stretching, and mat Pilates.”
“After your period ends, the follicular phase starts and causes hormone and energy levels to rise to their peak during ovulation. This phase is all about waking up the body with energizing workouts. We can do more cardio and strength-based workouts like sculpt classes, jogging, and low impact cardio.”
“Ovulation is when our hormones are at their highest levels. We tend to have the most energy in this phase, and our body can actually burn fat and build muscle more easily with workouts like cardio circuit, strength training, HIIT, Pilates, and boxing.”
“The luteal phase begins after ovulation and lasts until menstruation. This phase is also when we may experience PMS symptoms as hormone levels start to lower while approaching the menstrual phase. It’s good to check in with your body and energy levels each day because you’ll notice that your body’s needs change the most in this phase.
“Workouts like low-impact cardio and mat or Reformer Pilates are great in the first half of this phase when we still have energy from ovulation. The closer we get to our period, the lower our energy tends to be, so workouts that keep cortisol and inflammation low like mat Pilates, walking, and yoga are ideal.”
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