The hormones of our menstrual cycle greatly influence our energy, mood and by taking control of them we can maximise our natural superpowers. Personal Trainer and sports therapist Joslyn Thompson Rule talks to us about the sorts of exercises we should be doing at different stages of our hormonal cycle…
“How you feel about training at the start of your cycle varies from woman to woman – you may feel great, or you might just want stay in bed. Both are fine. It’s important to understand what works best for you. If you would like to do something, take a 20 minute walk for some light energy flow without taxing your body.”
Rise phase (late follicular)
“During this phase take advantage of bang-for-your-buck exercises; large compound movements that work large muscle groups in one go like squats, deadlifts and rows, which have more hormonal impact than small muscle groups worked by themselves. Master the basics of bodyweight first before adding any load. You may feel at your strongest/fastest around ovulation when your oestrogen levels are peaking.”
Shift phase (early luteal)
“This phase can be tough mentally as you are coming off a physical peak. You may notice that your time to fatigue is quicker during the luteal phase, be sure to schedule rest breaks, or keep pace manageable so as not to fatigue too quickly. Both training volume and length can be reduced at this time. Changing your training parameters around this time will work in line with your physical ability during the luteal phase – runners may run for a set time, rather than a set number of miles; and those strength training may focus on good form and movement, rather than increased load.”
Reflect phase (late luteal)
Be mindful that during the late luteal phase, motivation levels may be low and the voice inside your head is strong. This is the perfect time to book in a gentle training session with a friend – you are more likely to do a workout if it is scheduled in with someone else. If you experience pre-menstrual bloating, this may make training a little more uncomfortable – swap exercises that are higher impact like running or require core strength, for cycling or swimming.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.