Fitness Friday: Practicing Cycle Awareness in Your Workouts
This post builds on Monday’s post. Haven’t read it yet? Check it out here!
If you are a menstruating woman, you may have noticed workouts feel quite different week to week. Day to day physical variations are part of being human, but a menstruating woman experiences more pronounced fluctuations. The good news is, once you get to know your cycle, you may start to see a pattern. Once you see a pattern, you can use this knowledge to your advantage when planning your workouts. Not sure what I mean? Check out these phase descriptions and see if any of the physical changes outlined below sound familiar:
Days 1-5: You could think of this as the winter season of your cycle. Energy may be low during this time and you may find yourself needing more rest. Instead of forgoing exercise completely, choose more restful and quiet activities to keep your energy and mood up. Long walks, gentle yoga, or even an easy jog might be just the thing to keep you moving while honoring the work that is happening inside your body during the bleeding phase.
Days 6-13: Sticking with the season analogy, you could consider this the spring of your cycle. You may notice a pronounced increase in energy, especially if you took some time to rest during the winter phase. This is a great time to start a new form of exercise and ramp up the intensity. Things like HIIT training, Tabata workouts, running, and vigorous yoga can feel good at this time.
Days 14-20: You are now moving into the summer of your cycle. The high energy you experienced during the previous cycle, combined with an increased need for connection, may have you craving group workouts. This might be a good time to jump into that kettle bell class you have been intimidated by or try your hand at aerial yoga. Confidence tends to be higher in this phase so get out there and try new things.
Days 21-28: The autumn of your cycle may have you feeling the need to retreat. You may find you have less tolerance and are more discerning about where you put your energy, especially since it might be limited. With all key hormones on the decline, you may feel irritability creeping in. You may also feel more creative and desire a less linear type of workout. This could be a great time to practice more creative styles of yoga, like vinyasa, or dance. If you are especially irritable, try kick boxing or punching bag work to release aggression in a productive way.
Remember, cycles can be very individual. The examples above are approximate and tie in with the hormonal fluctuations that most women experience during a typical flow. The only way to create a program that truly suits your needs is to know and track your distinctive cycle.
Want to know more about cycle awareness? Head over to the Joyful Gym Rat Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.
Photo credit: Mary Ellen Blacker