How you can use your menstrual cycle to achieve your goals

By Kirsty Smith

So how can you start to connect with your inner rhythm and start using it as your unique training tool?

It all starts with understanding your cycle and how the 5 hormones that govern it change throughout. The quantity of these hormones changes 4 times during a cycle which creates the 4 distinct phases.

The varying hormone levels not only determine what’s going on reproductively but also determine how you feel physically and emotionally. They affect your mood, brain function, energy levels, immune function, skin tone, strength, nutritional requirements, libido, and weight. As they fluctuate, so will your energy and motivation AND THAT'S OKAY!!

The days in each phase shown below are based on an "average" 28 day cycle. To find out the specific days for your cycle refer to your cycle tracker. Day 1 is the first day of your bleed (not spotting) and lasts until you stop bleeding. If you don't yet track your cycle I recommend that you do (it's never too late to start tracking!). It's super easy to do using an app like Clue or Flo or you may prefer to use a paper diary or cycle tracker like this one.

So what's happening in each of these phases?

The secret to living your most energised and passionate life lies in learning how to live more in harmony with the 4 phases of your cycle. During your cycle no two days are the same yet you expect (or should I say - society expects) you to show up the same every day. But it's simply not possible - it goes against what's happening internally.

You try to push through your body's signals to slow down because you feel like that’s what you have to do, only to feel exhausted and depleted. It's time to start honouring the ebbs and flows as you move through each of your phases. Some phases are for socialising and pushing yourself physically, others are for upping the self-care and saying no.

How to maximise your training using your cycle:

When it comes to exercising for hormone health there's a fine balance. Too much high-intensity exercise can increase stress hormones and affect the adrenals which is a major contributor to hormonal chaos, which can also mean you don't lose any weight even when you exercise intensely. Too little exercise can create a sluggish lymphatic system and detox pathways which also contribute to period problems. This is why I teach my clients the Goldilocks approach to movement.

The Goldilocks approach is moving in harmony with your cycle which is a GAMECHANGER to helping you achieve your goals in the gym - whether that's increased strength, body confidence or fitness.

Use your cycle to help you decide the intensity and the type of movement that you're going to do. Choose the movement and intensity that's best suited for your physical, energetic and emotional levels on a day to day basis.

The beauty of being a member at Fly is that you have a selection of movements that you can choose in every phase (as the graphic below illustrates).

WINTER PHASE: Honour your low hormonal & energy levels with more restorative movements like Pilates or Yoga.

SPRING PHASE: Challenge your improved coordination & social skills with TUF or BoxFIRE.

SUMMER PHASE: Push for a new weightlifting PB in FORCE or master a new skill in Calisthenics. By training in this way you can achieve up to 15% more strength gains, so this is the time to really push it.

AUTUMN PHASE (PART 1): Energy may still be high after ovulation so you may still be feeling a FIRE, FORCE or Cali class.

AUTUMN PHASE (PART 2): In the 2nd half of your inner Autumn, give yourself permission to ease back to lighter activities (yoga and pilates) as your hormone levels start to drop.

So will you start using your cycle to plan your training week?

Benefits of aligning your movement intensity with the phases of your cycle:

  1. You choose the intensity that your body is more geared up to do at that time - meaning less soreness and injuries.
  2. You understand the perfect times to push and when to take extra rest (without guilt).
  3. You understand the perfect time to focus on strength over HIIT to maximise muscle building.
  4. You’ll minimise the stress that results from doing more intense activities in the less than ideal phases.
  5. You’re nourishing your hormones and not causing any further hormonal imbalances.
  6. Develop a movement routine unique to yourself that will leave you feeling energised and not depleted.
  7. Achieve goals by doing less. For instance, if weight loss is your goal, intense training all the time (contrary to what you might think) can cause stress and signal your body to maintain fat stores whilst also causing muscle wastage, There's a time and place for restful, slow restorative movements. AND NO, YOU'RE NOT LAZY FOR CHOOSING THESE OPTIONS WHEN YOU NEED TO.

How you can start using your cycle as your training & productivity tool?

Write down the days of your cycle in your journal, diary or online calendar and check in with it daily asking yourself :

  1. Does what I have planned today align with where I’m at in my cycle?
  2. Will what I have planned energise or deplete my energy?
  3. Can I do more in this phase?
  4. Should I ask for help so that I can rest more?

I can't wait to hear how you smash your goals using your cycle as your superpower!

If you'd like to dive deeper into this work and talk specifically about your hormonal issues and training goals I encourage you to book a FREE 1:1 coaching discovery call so I can best assist you. Book here or grab me when you see me at the gym for a chat.

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