As a cyclical being, it’s important that how you move your body through your cycle ebbs and flows with your hormonal tides.
When it comes to exercising (which I will primarily refer to as movement) it is not beneficial to do the same high intensity workouts all month.
It can be challenging to go from feeling super strong, on it and motivated in your inner spring and summer, to not wanting to work out at all.
Why I like to refer to movement, instead of exercising or working out, is because the body is designed to move. It likes motion.
This helps to keep your body from stagnating. It stimulates circulation, chi, the lymphatic system and the whole musculoskeletal system.
For me, when I think about exercising, I instantly resist it. However, when I think of moving my body in ways that feel really good to me, I feel inspired.
It’s important that you find the movement that feels good to you and your body. Screw what the studies or experts say about all the things that you need to do to get fill in the blank results. While these can be helpful, they can also make you feel like you're missing the mark. We all know that no one needs any more reasons to feel like a failure in their life.
If you haven’t found the type of movement that feels good for your body, explore. Hire a personal trainer (ideally with knowledge of the menstrual cycle), take different classes at your gym. Give pole fitness a shot, take some dance classes.
When you find the thing that works for you, it sets you up for success in actually wanting to do it.
Now back to movement with your cycle.
There are times in your cycle for high intensity and there are times for doing floor yoga with lots of pauses and an extra long savasana.
I’m going to map out a general flow. Your job is to track your own cycle and pay attention to how you feel in each phase and make the proper adaptations to how you move.
The nature of the feminine is not constancy. That is a masculine trait. The feminine is cyclical and as a female bodied being, it is important to follow your cyclical nature.
This is a way to rebel against the system that tries to fit us into a masculine way of doing things.
During menstruation your hormones and energy levels are likely at their lowest. While you may feel a surge in energy once your bleed officially begins, this energy is not to be used externally or to exert forth a lot of effort.
This surge of energy is to be used internally to restore and replenish you nervous system. Resist the urge to jump back into your workout routine and develop one specifically for your menstrual self.
Let the slow increase of estrogen and build of energy be used to heal you, so that when estrogen starts to rise more rapidly in follicular, you have the energy to rise with it.
Most Supportive= Floor yoga, slow movements, gentle walks, deep breathing, meditation, anything that helps you be in a state of internal stillness, while still allowing movement of the body
Least Supportive= Anything high intensity, heavy weights, endurance
The energy during this time wants to be more slow moving, yet we override it over and over again with what we think we should be doing to meet our goals.
Tune into how your body feels and what it actually wants to do at this time.
Inner spring kicks in signaled by the rise of estrogen taking place in your body. What’s the best thing to do? Ride that wave all the way through ovulation!
Do you have big goals to climb a mountain, hit a new goal with weights or dance your ass off all day? Get it! But don’t get it too quickly ;)
The key here is to follow the slow rise of estrogen. Your body will let you know when it’s ready for more intense movement. When it’s there, do it! As you progress into the follicular phase, if your hormones are balanced and healthy, you will feel a natural desire to move in more intense ways.
Most Supportive= Slow build into high-intensity movement, dancing, hiking, beating your last running goal, add in more weights
Least Supportive= Denying your body’s natural desire to move how it wants to, holding back from reaching your goals, jumping into high intensity too quickly, rather than allowing for a slow build after menstruation
Hello summertime! It’s so good to be here once again.
Estrogen is surging to it’s all time high and if you’ve played your cards right during your cycle, then so are you!
This is a time to climb that mountain peak and then do it again the next day. Don’t hold back during this time. You want to increase the weight your lifting? Build that bootylicious booty, run 5 miles, go for a swim and then climb? That’s right, your ovulation self is gonna do all that and more. Watch out!
Most Supportive= HIIT, big runs, heavy weights, dancing all day and night (followed up by some sweet, juicy lovin’!), going for your goals, pushing yourself, testing your limits
Least Supportive= Staying in sluggish patterns that rob what should be a natural surge of energy, holding back, not moving at all (this is a sure disaster for the ovulation self who is exuding endless energy)
The luteal phase is probably the most nuanced when it comes to movement.
Shortly after the egg is released during ovulation is no longer viable, your body shuts down shop so to speak.
Estrogen plummets and you’re thrown into Ovulation Come Down.
Energy levels dramatically drop for a couple days, and then you get a secondary rise in estrogen that slowly declines until you start your period again.
Ovulation comedown energy is likened to deep luteal energy is likened to menstrual energy. They are the most similar to one another and what you do in one will most likely benefit when you’re in the others.
Ovulation into luteal is commonly one of the most challenging transitions (right next to deep luteal) for women in their cycle in pretty much every aspect of life, but for the sake of this blog, we’re going to stick with movement.
Ovulation comedown is a time to just chill. Remember that mountain peak you climbed two days ago and felt ready to do it all over again? What happened?!? Now you don’t want to do anything!
Don’t worry, it’s totally natural and happens to the best of us. This too shall pass.
Give yourself permission to chill the f*ck out, because you’re likely questioning a lot of things in your life, not just why you’re unmotivated to move or feel weak at the gym all the sudden.
This is your signal to shift gears.
The theme of luteal is steady and consistent. You don’t have to stop dancing, but maybe you don’t dance as hard. You can still lift weights, but now you go for less weight and more reps. If you go for a run, try 3 miles at a slower pace, taking in the scenery, instead of trying to top your last 5 mile run by 2 minutes.
See what I’m getting at here?
You have to change your movement patterns with your flow to give you more steady and sustained energy throughout the month. This is a way to help prevent burn out and overwhelm.
Most Supportive= Beginning to incorporate movement that helps you shift gears and slow down, walk instead of run, less weight, shorter workouts, restorative yoga
Lease Supportive= Trying to perform like your follicular and ovulation self (sorry, you’re just not her right now)
As you can see, these are very general examples, but I wanted to help paint the picture of what cyclical movement looks like.
Don’t compare your menstrual self to your ovulation self. Remind her that spring will be coming and soon after summer and that’s when you can start working on that sexy body and feeling strong again.
Biggest takeaways I want you to get:
Begin the practice of tuning into what your body actually wants to do in each phase
Know that how you move your body is going to ebb and flow as you move through your cycle
Trust that you have not lost any strength after doing floor yoga and going on walks for 3 days while you were bleeding (your spring and summer self will show you what’s up, just you wait)
Don’t read this list and then think “I have to do this specific thing in this specific phase because that’s what the blog said.” - No, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Give yourself at least 3-6 months at a minimum to find what forms of movement feel best in each phase and don’t think about it too much! The mind muddles things up. Your body knows and if you listen will communicate what it needs.
Learning to move your body in sync with your menstrual cycle is a way to build trust with your body. It prevents you from beating up on yourself when you feel like you’re not strong enough, or doing enough. It provides a moment to pause and say, “no, that’s not true. I’m just moving how my luteal self feels good moving.”
Enjoy the process of discovering how you naturally want to move in each phase and the optimization it brings to your life!