If you’ve ever done a workout one week and felt fantastic only to repeat the exact same routine a week later and struggled throughout, you’re not alone.
In fact, you’re probably just not working out according to your cycle.
Hormones really can affect your energy levels, fitness, strength and stamina, meaning that it’s perfectly normal to be able to run faster than you ever have done one day, and struggle to run a mile the next.
Menstrual cycles affect many parts of our life throughout the month, including our fitness, but by being aware of where you’re at in your cycle, you can easily sync your workout with your period.
Speaking to FEMAIL, the experts from Lunette Australia revealed how you can ‘hack’ your cycle to be the fittest you’ve ever been, and the ideal workout for each week of the month.
Hormones really can affect your energy levels, fitness, strength and stamina, meaning that it’s perfectly normal to be able to run faster than you ever have done one day, and struggle to run a mile the next (stock image)
DAYS ONE TO SEVEN: MENSTRUATION
The days during your period can often leave you feeling a bit ‘meh’, and this is because oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest.
‘During this phase, your body is using more glycogen (stored fuel) as its preferred energy source, which might mean you feel cramp-y and bloated,’ the Lunette experts said.
But, you can expect your mood to gradually lift throughout the week and you might even hit higher intensities without feeling the burn as much as usual.
‘Get out of your comfortable house pants and head to the gym during this phase for a turbo-charged workout,’ Lunette expert said.
‘This low-hormone phase actually makes you a bit more man-like and it’s the perfect time to push yourself with a more demanding routine like a bootcamp.’
Try adding in a few extra reps this week or work out for more days if you can, and make the most of faster recovery times and the fact that you’re burning fuel more efficiently.
‘Studies have shown that within 10 minutes of exercising, cramping reduces, back ache is eased, your mood improves and mental alertness increases,’ Lunette experts said.
Workout to try: Bootcamp.
The second phase of your cycle is called the ‘proliferative phase’, and during this phase, your oestrogen levels will start to rise slowly meaning you might be able to run longer (stock image)
DAYS EIGHT TO 14: PROLIFERATIVE PHASE
What are the different phases of your cycle and how will you feel?
* DAYS ONE TO SEVEN: MENSTRUATION: You might feel cramp-y and bloated, but your mood will lift gradually through the week.
* DAYS EIGHT TO 14: PROLIFERATIVE PHASE: You’ll feel energetic, sexy and gorgeous.
* DAYS 15-21: LUTEAL PHASE: You might feel less energetic, your motivation is slightly lower and you’re a bit moody at this time.
* DAYS 22-28: LUTEAL PHASE CONTINUED: You’ll feel moody, bloated and anti-social.’
The second phase of your cycle is called the ‘proliferative phase’, and during this phase, your oestrogen levels will start to rise slowly, as your body prefers to burn fat as its fuel source.
‘During this phase, it’s likely you feel energetic, sexy and gorgeous,’ Lunette said.
This is because your ‘man-like powers’ are still with you, but to a slightly lesser degree.
‘Keep up the high strength and endurance work while your body is burning a little more fat, and increase your time on the cross trainer or rower by five or ten minutes.
‘You could even increase your running or walking distances happily, as you might find it easier at this time,’ the experts said.
This period is also a good time to try a new workout, provided you take the time to warm up and cool down correctly.
As you head towards ovulation, your chance of injury can increase.
Workout to try: A new workout or increased distance with running/cycling.
You might feel less energetic in the luteal phase and might benefit from turning down the intensity with some yoga (stock image)
DAYS 15 TO 21: LUTEAL PHASE
Days fifteen to twenty one in your cycle is called the ‘luteal phase’, as it’s when your hormones reach their peach and your high progesterone levels alter your metabolism and ‘how you handle heat’.
‘You might feel less energetic, your motivation is slightly lower and you’re a bit moody at this time,’ Lunette said.
Counter-act this by turning down the intensity a little in your workouts, and concentrating on looking after yourself form the inside out.
‘This week is a good chance to concentrate on some more endurance-focused exercises and pair it with yoga or a stretch session,’ Lunette said.
Workout to try: Yoga and stretching.
During your period, exercise will help to improve all of the fluid retention and bloated middle you’re struggling with (stock image)
How to make your hormones happy
* If you find yourself struggling with mid-cycle pain, look at your consumption of foods which feed oestrogen like soy or alcohol.
* Also, keep a close eye on things like sleep and poor diet.
* Employ the 8 x 8 x 8 rule of eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of play.
* Ditch inflammatory foods that might be causing your sluggish thyroid – such as gluten and sugar.
* Try a new habit – and do it for 21 days. Observe changes in your body accordingly.
* If you find you’re struggling with spots, try taking a herbal supplement.
Source: Nat Kringoudis
DAYS 22 TO 28: LUTEAL PHASE CONTINUED
In the final days before your period, the oestrogen and progesterone levels in your body will slump, meaning you feel near-constant PMS.
‘Before you get your period again, it’s likely you’ll feel moody, bloated and anti-social,’ Lunette said.
‘It might feel like the time to curl up on the sofa and watch Netflix, but this is the week you must try to drag your sorry self into workout gear.’
Exercise helps to improve all of the fluid retention and bloated middle you’re struggling with, while the endorphin release you get with exercise will help your mood infinitely.
‘Turn to mid-high intensity cardio sessions that will increase your heart rate such as cycling classes, jogging, and power yoga,’ Lunette said.
Workout to try: Cycling classes, power yoga and jogging.
Melbourne-based fertility expert Nat Kringoudis (pictured) revealed how ‘hacking’ your hormones is the ultimate solution to being healthier, slimmer and happier with the 8x8x8 rule
Speaking previously to FEMAIL, Melbourne-based fertility expert Nat Kringoudis revealed how ‘hacking’ your hormones is the ultimate solution to being healthier, slimmer and happier.
According to Nat, when your hormones are out of balance, you may experience issues with all sorts of things – from your menstrual cycle to your mood.
‘We may find our appetite is out of control and everything is harder,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘On the contrary, when our hormones are balanced, our body works with less effort. It’s simple to see, our hormones really need us on their side, to do what we can to support them.’
So how can you support your hormones?
Principally, Nat said it’s all about re-assessing your attitudes towards sleep, diet and exercise.
This is where the 8 x 8 x 8 rule comes into play.
‘That is eight hours of work, eight hours of play and eight hours of rest,’ Nat said.
If you roughly subscribe to this, you’ll automatically feel more balanced.
Then, it’s all about tweaking your diet and exercise so that your hormones are more in sync.
‘An ideal day on a plate for your hormones includes plenty of fat and proteins, as this are what hormones are made from,’ Nat said.
‘Raw and cold foods are best kept to a minimum as they are difficult to digest and can lead to a host of issues including bloating and pain.’
Finally, it’s all about plugging your diet and life full of things that will make you feel better, and getting rid of inflammatory foods and the other triggers that push you out of balance.
‘Drink chamomile tea, as it will help to keep you calm and can also help alleviate cramping associated with menstrual bleeding,’ Nat said.
She also recommends filling your plate up with Vegemite, which is ‘loaded with B vitamins which immediately balance out oestrogen and boost the feel good hormones, dopamine and serotonin’.