As a fitness and wellness educator, I am constantly stunned by the lack of understanding and knowledge that most people have about their bodies and how they work. In addition to that….it’s so disheartening to me to hear how many people are so unfamiliar with their personal body and how their menstrual cycle works (or are meant to work) and even fewer people (like, none) have any idea that you can actually work with your personal hormone cycle to get more results out of your workouts.
The process of getting more results when you work in alignment with your menstrual cycle is pretty straight forward and all based in science.
3 tips for working with your hormone cycle and improve your workout results
Tip 1: Work with your body, not against it.
I’m on a mission to share how to work with your body rather than against it especially when it comes to our menstrual cycle! After all, this is how we’re built. We are biologically, beautifully and magically designed to ebb and flow with our cycle. It’s simply time to embrace it, honor it….make an effort to love it and work with it, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist and training like we have a Y chromosome when we don’t.
I teach how to work with your body, not against it. I coach how to get more results by doing less. I teach smarter, not harder. I know, it sounds too good to be true when as a culture we’ve been ingrained with ‘no pain, no gain’ and faster, harder, stronger.
I’m not a snake oil salesman. I’m a woman, a mother, a wife, a business owner, a wellness advocate and a teacher. I’m a woman, one that knows the wonders of our bodies that we are wonderfully different than our male counterparts and should quit trying to prove our feminism by acting like a man. To me, this is no more apparent than in the fitness industry and in our workouts. It’s simply a matter of education. It’s time to embrace our collective she power and go with the flow!
Tip 2: There is power in knowledge and the body is no different
When you start to understand how a body truly thrives (*spoiler alert* a body truly thrives when hormones are in balance) results start appearing in calm, kind and near be magical ways that have never happened before. Better yet, results achieved this way stick around longer.
Fitness & wellness results that you obtain in thoughtful and intelligent ways stay for a lifetime vs. 30, 60 or 90 days. When you have the knowledge of how the hormone cycles assist or thwart results; you are then empowered from the inside out with self-respect, self-love and straight up positive results.
Tip 3: How to go with the flow
Here are the basics of working out with your menstrual flow in a 4-week 28-day cycle:
Week #1 (Your effort level should be a 1 out of 4)
Your period begins. If we break down your cycle into days 1- 28 this is day 1). Be gentle and kind to your body. It’s lovely to take a walk, a stretch, restorative or yin yoga, swimming and Pilates are all excellent choices. This is the perfect self-care week to back off a bit. Moving and exercising is GREAT but aiming for your most strenuous workout this week is not. Keep moving……just go mellow this week.
After your heaviest flow days it’s time to work harder. You’ve got an upswing in testosterone so it’s time to put it to use. Drive for a little more exertion in your workouts. That’s the basic science of it, but – if you’re feeling low energy, honor that. I tend to take a day off of the mat on day 2 of my cycle. It’s the heaviest, and I honor that I’m low energy. Day 3 I’m rockin’ and rollin’ but Day 2…please don’t think I’m at my peak fitness performance. I’m not and I’m certainly not in any mood to want to shoot videos for you or go prove my athleticism in my workout.
My yogi tendencies also need me to encourage you to consider not to practice inversions during your flow. Yes, it’s super old school, energetic woowoo info here: no headstands, handstands etc. If you resonate with this info, abide by it. In theory, we’re flowing with the cycles and gravity of the moon, la luna energies, and should remain tuned into gravity with deep squats and a pull-down and anchoring into mother earth. GO WITH THE FLOW! However, there is no science to support this and after 20 years dancing, teaching and training I know that most people don’t abide by this on the regular and to be fair I didn’t until after I had two children. As I progress in age, I’ve adopted this practice because it feels best to me and my body. You decide what works for you. I’m always about honoring the conversation you have with your personal body. Working in harmony with your body is all about knowing what works best for you, sometimes, in spite of all the facts and advice.
Week #2 – Your effort level should be a 2 out of 4
This is the week we ovulate. All is well and ‘normal’ and hopefully healthy and mellow. Nothing to see here and really nothing to make considerations for. Life as usual. Workouts should be a regular/medium effort.
Week #3 – Your effort level should be a 3 out of 4
This is the premenstrual week. Hellooooooo PMS. Hormone levels and energy drops, if you have PMS symptoms like bloating, fatigue, back pain, acne, cravings, then this is when they show up.
You want to work in harmony with your body, not against it. Honor the stunning creation that it is. MOVE! WORKOUT! Exercise cuts down on the symptoms and helps alleviate them in the long run if you stay consistent with your workouts. And workouts don’t need to be intense…you simply need to move….but pushing a bit can reap major rewards; think level 3 out of 4 in the effort category. Not the biggest push, but not a mellow self-care week.
Week #4 – Your effort level should be a 4 out of 4
Testosterone is at its highest in our cycle and actually allows our divine bodies to drive our hardest and recover our best. This is the week to push things. Aim for a level 4 out of 4 in your workouts. This week you will typically feel the strongest and most capable of any workload.
Busting the “The harder I push the more results I’ll get” myth
Every body needs a week of recovery and rest that is lightest on your body, a medium workout week, a harder pressing week and an intense week. No one gives enough credit to the rest and recovery cycles and that’s where the true magic of body evolution is.
Workouts are preparation for change. But the actual change in a body happens in the rest cycles. Crazy talk? Nope. Just the facts. So, please, quit beating your body into submission and thinking “The more I do, the harder I push the more results I’ll get” then wonder why you’re not getting results.
Time to ditch the old ways of doing things.
You’ve read this post, your eyes are opening. Time to ditch the old ways of doing things. False paradigms and antiquated marketing keep us from our best selves. Time to invoke your personal she power, honor your flow, work with it and get healthy & fit!
Everything I teach speaks to the long term healthy management of hormone balance.
My own body rushed my understanding of hormone balance and how important it is to feel and be well. My personal thyroid (just read as hormone issues) problems began at 18 and resulted in a thyroidectomy at 32. I had acne, anxiety, hot flashes, insomnia and major PMS, then add two pregnancies and a thyroid removal to the mix and I was a hormonal mess. I teach because I want to empower others with the knowledge that I have learned over the years. Learning to work with your body rather than being at the mercy of it is an incredible gift that is real. It just takes learning how.
Exercise is the best-known tool to balance hormones but only if you know how to work with the hormone cycle. If you work against it, you end up sending your body even further into hormonal imbalance and will, therefore, thwart your efforts and seriously waste time while not getting the results you want. What does that mean? It means you won’t lose weight, you won’t gain strength, muscle mass, definition, increased energy, mobility or flexibility. It means all those workouts don’t amount in results.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a medical or health professional. The purpose of this blog is informative and to share an experience – not to give health or medical advice. You should always do your own research when it comes to your health.