Workouts & Your Hormones

Does the type of workout you do really matter - during your hormone cycles?

Short answer - YES!

Now, whether you do anything about it, is up to you! But, hear me out, as not only do I work to teach you to become hormone adapted through nutrition (Eating for Energy), but tying your workouts to this process, could just open that holy grail for you!

Light bulb??! Read on....or hit the READY TO START button, and hang on sister, it's go-time!



Ok, back to it. Here's why being an advocate for your cycle should be a requirement, for all "period aged" women.  Interestingly enough, historically, women have been excluded from nutrition and exercise research because of how our 28-day menstrual cycle affects our metabolism. (Apparently it gets complicated for researchers, assuming it will mess up their data, so they leave our age group out.) Instead, most research for workouts & nutrition programs, are done on MEN & menopausal women - as their output is more predictable.

All the more reason, we need to become our OWN advocates and science experiment, and follow the hormone changes we experience, so we can better understand how we should eat & move during each phase.

A quick lesson on our 4 phases, if you aren't already savvy with them:

Menstrual Phase: 3-7 Days. This is when we have our "bleed" and when hormones decline quickly to their lowest concentrations. Often times this means our energy is decreased too.

Follicular Phase: 7 - 10 Days. This comes right after your bleed and when all hormones are beginning to restore and slowly increase in concentration. This is when you may find that period bloat subsides and your creative side of the brain fires back up.

Ovulation Phase: 3 - 5 Days. As your body is gearing up to release an egg, estrogen increases further to thick the uterine lining. Testosterone kicks in and begins to surge, thus driving desire and hen drops around ovulation. You may feel an uptick in energy during this phase too.

Luteal Phase: 10 - 14 Days. The 3 amigos, aka estrogen, progesterone & testosterone, reach their peak concentrations, then begin to plummet to their lowest levels, as your approach your bleed.  This is when PMS is common - not required, as we are conditioned, but that also depends on your lifestyle choices during this time (nutrition, self care, stress, sleep, workouts, etc).

Now, hey, did you learn something? This stuff is fascinating as crap to me! Let's keep going....again, I do a deep dive into this stuff in my Eating for Energy course - if you are ready to sort through the madness, I walk you through it all. Click on the READY TO START image below...and keep reading. I'm just getting started! LOL

So let's break down what that means for your energy and timing of workouts, based on the phases we ran through above.

The Best Strategy for Timing Your Workouts

As you begin to track and identify your cycle patterns, you can start co-creating your workout schedules by relying on the intuitive wisdom of your hormones!

If you've never truly tracked and tuned into what your body is saying or doing with each phase of your cycle - take a FULL CYCLE to track and listen. Again, you have to be the advocate for your body - because no workout program or nutrition plan, is one-size-fits-all - until you design it as such. And that's why my Eating for Energy clients are seeing so much sustainable success! It's a process, but I walk you through it all.

Once you identify your phases, begin modify the type of activities you do each day and adjust the timing of your workouts accordingly. This will allow you to play to your strengths, and get the results you want, all month long. For instance, start by moving HIIT workouts to the first half of your cycle and less intense exercise to the second half of your cycle.

Your metabolism is naturally slower during the first half of your cycle and HIIT training will speed it up. This will help you lose weight and gain muscle.

If you experience estrogen dominance (and almost every woman with period problems does), exercising hard all the time can backfire. Once you start to match your energy with your hormones, you'll see a shift in your results, your natural energy and recovery. Kind of the perfect storm for everything to become harmonized!

And good news - your workouts don't need to be any longer than 30-40 mins! Anything longer, with a sustained intensity, can become to affect your adrenals, which slows down your metabolism, depleting energy, blah blah.

Workouts For Each Phase of Your Cycle

Here's a good guideline to begin testing for yourself. Again - this is where and how you become an advocate for your body. I know it's tough if you are following a certain workout program or have a favorite instructor (ahem, let's workout!) with the class that fires you up - but have you ever noticed, at times you've completed a workout and it just felt blah? Or you weren't motivated to do it? Something was off? IT'S A SIGN! Respect it and learn from it.


Workout: Brisk Walk – keep your workouts mild, even if you’re not feeling major discomfort. Take this opportunity to connect and catch up with a girlfriend - or I've been using the evening walks to spend time with my oldest and talk about this kind of stuff!

Follicular Phase (the week or so after your period):

Workout: Run or Steady State Cardio

Ovulation (mid-cycle):

Workout: High-intensity interval training, Strength Training or bodyweight circuit. Tabata is my fave!!!

Luteal Phase (just before your bleed):

Workout: Pilates,  yoga or light Barre.

You'll want to pay attention to your energy levels. You may likely have full energy at the forefront of this phase, so a more intense workout may be warranted, but the latter half, just before your bleed, tone it down a titch. An evening restorative practice such as (yin) yoga or stretching before bed can also be hugely helpful in combating issues like moodiness and bloat.

This is a lot, right? I know I get it. You won't necessarily figure it all out with 1 month of tracking. Give yourself time! Especially if you are working on an overhaul with your nutritional practice - which this is where I start with clients. Then we can dive into workouts and other hormone related stuff.

You want to be patient with this process. But once you start to harmonize with your body, you'll have a whole new sense of ease and freedom to work with your body!

Let's connect! I don't want this process to be overwhelming, but one that you feel will give back control of the process! If you are ready, click on the READY TO START and we'll get to work!

Alisa Vitti - In the Flo & Women Code

Menstrual cycle and basal metabolic rate in women. S. J. Solomon, M. S. Kurzer, D. H. Calloway

Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2002 Apr;11(3):225-37. The roles of estrogen and progesterone in regulating carbohydrate and fat utilization at rest and during exercise. D’Eon T1, Braun B.


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