How to match your workouts to the different phases of your monthly cycle

Feeling unmotivated to hit the gym before your period starts?

That’s actually super normal (even if a little frustrating at times).

I’ve become pretty obsessed with learning how women can best work with their bodies instead of against them when it comes to fitness, nutrition, stress, and sleep.

Lately, I’ve been learning a LOT about our monthly cycle and the way it impacts motivation, recovery, and how our bodies respond to different exercise stimuli.

Here are some key things I’ve learned, that may help you as well👇🏻👇🏻

You can naturally periodize your workouts to the different phases of your cycle:

Bleed phase= maintenance / muscular endurance (rep range is usually 12-25, lighter weight)

Follicular = hypertrophy (increase rest time between sets, rep range 8/12-15)

Ovulation = strength (reps can range from 1-5/6, longer rest periods between sets of the same exercise)

Luteal = De-load/ active recovery week (think long slow, low intensity here, mobility work).

Your cortisol levels as well as your BMR are naturally higher in your luteal phase (about 7-10/14 days before your period), which means you don’t necessarily want to be doing a ton of HIIT or higher intensity workouts.

**Especially if your stress levels are already in the higher side, and cortisol is already higher anyway.

You might also notice you’re hungrier as well with the slight increase in your BMR. Focus on getting in protein, quality carbs, and healthy fats.

Watch your cravings and urges— use them as an opportunity to check in with yourself and see if you might need/ want something else instead of the thing you’re craving in the moment. Sometimes we will crave something or have an urge to eat something as a temporary relief to something else going on.

And, if you do have the craving, that’s ok too. No need to beat yourself up over it. Just use it to learn/ grow, and move on. Most of all, if you are going to have a ‘treat’ food, be sure to enjoy it. Stressing over it or beating yourself up will actually be worse for you and your body than eating in with enjoyment.

Your body is primed for fat burning in the Luteal phase of your cycle which means it will favor lower intensity, longer duration workouts. As counterintuitive as it might be, you don’t want to go hard and heavy.

If you’re super into fitness or have really been working to get yourself to a goal, it might be hard to rest/ take it easy…especially with a lot of the toxic fitness/ diet culture messaging out there that says you always have to push yourself hard or it doesn’t even count.

It can be easy to feel guilty or be hard on yourself for going lighter in your workouts than usual. Especially if you tend to be harder on yourself anyway in general.

We know, that isn’t always sustainable or in our best interest. And, from a physiological sense, it isn’t even all the beneficial or useful.

How can you get started?

Practically, you can start to track your cycle, notice mood, motivation, and energy levels throughout the weeks.

Begin to notice if workouts feel harder than usual— that can be a sign to back off the intensity a little.

Likely, the hardest part will be the internal struggle or battle you face thinking you’re just being lazy and that you need to just push through. On those days you’re feeling more tired than usual, give your body what it likely needs more–rest. Take a nap, do something that is fun and playful, that gives you a sense of rest and accomplishment at the same time.

Imagine how it might be a more joyful experience if you worked with your body instead of against it.

Think of it as trying softer with yourself. 😉

If you’re tired of always feeling like you’re in an all out war with yourself and food, I can help.
I’m a big proponent of breaking up with the diet mindset (that often creates all the annoying food habits you wish you could break)

And helping you get in tune with your body, learn how to trust it (and yourself around ALL foods).

And getting you all the energy and time back that this is taking from you—so you can, you know, live and love your life.

Not waiting until you reach a goal to do so.

If that sounds like what you’ve been looking for, message me to get started on your non diet lifestyle today. You can email alisha@alishacarlson.com to get started.

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