Planning exercise around your menstrual cycle
Recommendations for planning exercise around tour menstrual cycle
I have put together a few recommendations that I feel will help all you awesome females optimise your performance both inside and outside of the gym. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. Before you begin making lifestyle changes, track your cycle and learn your personal pattern.
Achieve nervous system balance
Every week should include a slow, long distance workout of around one hour at conversational pace. This helps us women have smoother cycles because our bodies won’t feel as much stress in the sympathetic nervous system. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system it provides a nice active recovery for the body allowing the body to flush out lactic acid from muscle tissue. I personally find going for an unplugged walk in nature the best way to restore balance in my body.
Know Where YOU are At
Ladies, don’t just guess, we must ASSESS by tracking performance during each phase for your entire menstruation cycle. I recommend my female clients here at Liftoff to download a menstrual cycle tracking app. This allows them to take notes on sleep habits, nutrition habits and how exercise intensity feels from day to day over the course of their individual cycle. These notes are vital feedback for yourself and for your coach.
For those who experience PMS symptoms (usually a week before menstruation) movement matters and I’m not suggesting smashing out a high intensity crossfit based session. Keep it simple yet effective as the release of endorphins will help reduce low mood. Movement can also help put you to sleep and resist cravings, as long as macronutrient/ micronutrient needs are met depending on exercise intensity and the given phase of menstruation. But if you are experiencing cramps or excessive flow I would recommend taking that day off from structured exercise or hard workouts. Now, this is not an excuse to sit on the couch all day, so don’t get too excited! Instead, try techniques like ‘greasing the groove’ such as working on your mobility placing emphasis on the lower body. Treat yourself to a yin yoga class or you could utilise this day to ensure you have proper foods prepared for the next couple days etc
Go Beyond Training
A few more lifestyle basic tips would include:
Not skipping meals! Consume a high protein breakfast on your harder workout days. Eat liver and bone broth. Consume a high amount of healthy fats and get proper quantity and quality of sleep. These are all small ways to enhance your performance and can also lead to a more consistent menstrual cycle along with better exercise sessions and better recovery. Maintain low energy movements throughout the day. Eat enough carbohydrate to fuel workouts and support menstruation. Consume fat from healthy sources such as seeds, nuts, oils etc and perform no more than three very intense workouts per week can also be helpful, especially if you tend to miss periods.
If you wish to further discuss your nutrition/training around your menstrual cycle then please don’t hesitate to reach out to coach LC here at Liftoff Crossfit.