How to Train According to Your Menstrual Cycle.
How did the USA women’s soccer team win the World Cup in 2019?
I read this in a news story soon after the Women’s Football World Cup and was truly astounded!
I’m sure a lot of other aspects came into but I remember thinking it was so fantastic that there was a large focus on training the women around their cycles to ensure they got the most out of them.
So if you find yourself trying to smash out a HIIT workout everyday of your cycle and then killin’ it some days and barely surviving others, let me tell you where you are going wrong…
WE ARE CYCLICAL!
High intensity training is sustainable 100% of the month for 100% of…. Men.
Not women or people who experience ‘female’ hormones.
And why is this? Men have a constant stream of hormones throughout the month with little to no change. Whereas women experience a whole host of hormones throughout the month which have a big impact on how we feel and how our body responds. This is why some days you feel you can smash out a big workout and take on the world, and other days you quite literally (ok quite figuratively) die.
A lot of the work that has been done by the “grandmothers” of the menstrual cycle awareness world focuses around our inner seasons. So just like the seasons we have in the outside world with winter, summer, spring, summer we, too, have inner seasons within our cycles every month. So there are times in our cycle where we more relate to the “winter” times of life, and there are times in our cycle where we relate more to the “summer” times of our life. And this is why it is so important how to learn how to train according to your menstrual cycle.
So if you think about it in terms of a tree, a tree in winter, many trees lose their leaves, they’re bare, they’re feeling quite naked. And this relates to your menstruation time, so sometimes when you’re bleeding, when you’re having your period, it can feel like a bit of a raw and vulnerable time for us, our leaves have dropped down, there’s nothing to protect us anymore, so it’s really time for us to go inward and to rest and relax and do things like meditation, and really just center ourselves in preparation for the rest of our cycle.
Spring, if you imagine new buds and new shoots that are blooming up from the ground, we start to get more energy as our estrogen rises, so we’ve come out of that winter where we’re feeling maybe quite tired and inward and we’re starting to be a bit more energetic. The dangers of spring are that we have all this newfound energy, and we go too hard. So one of the best things to do during your spring is save 20% for the rest of your cycle. So preserving your energy there, especially during exercise and those sorts of things, not going as hard as we might think we might be able to is really important. If you think about it in terms of plants, they’re just a fresh bud shooting up, they don’t need to much sun or water otherwise they drown or they burn, so just treat yourself tenderly still, but start to put your feelers out and see what’s going on.
As you move into the Summer of your cycle, this is around your ovulatory time, and estrogen is at an all-time high. Estrogen is responsible for making us feel like we’re feelin’ ourselves. You might notice you dress differently, you might notice that you’re more bubbly, you’ve got more energy definitely, so this is the time where you’re in full swing, your hormones are right up there, you’ll probably be feeling a lot more sexual and wanting to get yourself out there, which is fabulous. So it’s time to go hard in your Summer, work out as hard as you want and go wild, enjoy your life.
As Summer ebbs into Autumn, Autumn is considered our premenstrual time. This is a time that is quite delicate for a lot of people who experience cycles, a lot of people experience Pre Menstrual Syndrome and symptoms. That is not to say that just because a lot of us experience it, that it’s normal. Anything that is really adversely affecting your life, it shouldn’t be due to your cycle. So this can be a time to figure out what’s going on, it might be due to your hormones, it might have to do with the fact that you’re not happy in your job or your relationship. Autumn is the start of the death of your ego in Autumn. Our leaves are falling away, we’re feeling a bit more vulnerable, we’re more likely to not have as much resilience with our friends and family. Now is a great time to come home to yourself, you’re your most real at this time in your cycle. You don’t have the highs of estrogen making everything happy and great, that has fallen away, so now is the time to be more real and put yourself out there as the true essence of who you are.
So would you like to know the best exercises to engage in throughout your cycle? Of course you do!
Wanna go deeper? Learn all about your menstrual cycle in her Intro to Menstrual Cycle Awareness Program in The Salty Club. Click below to dive in today.
Here we go:
Inner Winter: Menstruation
– Gentle yoga
– Mainly a time for resting and releasing
Inner Spring: Pre-Ovulatory
– Anaerobic exercise
*STOP before you got too hard though and try saving 20% of your energy for summer.
Inner Summer- Ovulatory
– Go Hard!
– High intensity
– High cardio and weights
*Note once you have ovulated you should start to transition out of high cardio, research has shown that you are more susceptible to injury here
Inner Autumn- Pre Menstrual
– Weights training
– Light cardio
Choose your Salty Club workouts based on your cycle for maximum reward!
This post was written by Georgia Goodhew, and was a very basic overview of how our menstrual cycle affects our training as women. You can learn more about Menstrual Cycle awareness, and subsequently how to start learning to train according to your menstrual cycle in this free podcast.