Girls, I’m sure it’s no secret that our mood and energy levels fluctuate throughout our cycle. Something that I am frequently asked is “should I train when I have my period?”. I TOTALLY feel you, the physical and chemical changes that occur during our period can make us feel sluggish, bloated and fatigued (aaaand crave all the carbs + chocolate). However, through exercise you can increase the production of endorphins - the hormones that make you feel good! Exercise has also been shown to improve the negative symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle.
I know that sometimes the last thing we want to do when it’s that time of the month is train - especially if feeling bloated or experiencing cramps. The couch and a hot water bottle can be oh so tempting! But babes, when you’re on the journey of developing healthy habits and creating your dream routine it’s important to not let this get in the way!
Instead, today I want to teach you how to implement simple strategies to train like a boss at every stage of your cycle!
Take 5-10 minutes at the start of your session to warm up your body with a light walk and some activation exercises. If you’re in any pain or discomfort before you start working out, this will allow you to gently ease into your session. You can also utilise this time to calm your mind and get yourself into the right headspace for an amazing workout. I particularly find exercises that work on stretching out my lower back and hip flexors are beneficial before going into the session.
Adjust your workout
If a certain movement is making you feel particularly uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to change it up! It’s so important to listen to your body. Whether it be trying a different variation, reducing volume, or dropping to a lower weight - you have the power, and knowledge to make the necessary adjustments. For example; you can switch from a barbell hip thrust to a DB variation to reduce the amount of pressure on your lower abdomen. If you’re unable to train at the capacity you usually do, that’s okay! Going into a session with the mindset that you can change it up on your terms is a game changer. When you recognise that you are exercising to nourish your body, instead of punish, working out is a gift. Believe me, modifying one workout isn’t going to hinder your progress. But completing a workout on your terms could change the training game!
As your hormones oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate throughout your period, your body retains more water. This makes staying hydrated especially important! If you struggle to drink enough water, you can try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you every hour.
Optimise your nutrition
The hormonal fluctuations we experience throughout our cycle can also change the food cravings we have. Thankfully, flexible dieting allows us to accommodate for this! If you are new to the flexible dieting world, I would highly recommend reading Mastering the Basics of Nutrition #1: Nutritional Fundamentals and Macro Friendly Recipes. I generally have higher-carb meals when on my period - which I like to have pre-training. If you tend to cave something sweet when on your period, why not factor in a sweet treat as part of your daily calories? This will mean you can still stay on track with your goals without a worry! Everyone is different so it’s important to find what works best for you. I think it is important to not let your emotions / hormones dictate your eating habits. Really start to listen to your body and give it what it needs, rather than to succumb to emotional eating.
Be kind to yourself
Girl, your body is amazing! Think of all the wonderful things it does for you day in and day out - you need to be kind to yourself. It is totally normal for your weight to fluctuate when on your period, so you might find that the number on the scale increases slightly. This is absolutely nothing to worry about! Focus on all of your other positive achievements for the week, like hitting your steps or nailing your macros. Make sure you factor in some time for self-care and recovery. This could be; taking a walk in nature, doing some light stretches or taking a bath.