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Cycle Syncing Your Workout

Cycle Syncing Your Workout

Cycle syncing, made popular by Alissa Vitti of Flo Living, is the process of adapting various aspects of your lifestyle to the each of the four distinct phases of your menstrual cycle. These can include aspects such as your diet, your social calendar and even the meetings you take for work. It can also include your approach to fitness and movement, hence Cycle Syncing Your Workout!

what is cycle syncing your workout?

Cycle syncing your workout is, as it sounds, syncing your workouts to match the hormonal fluctuations that occur at different stages of your cycle – so you are working with your body, not against it.

As women, our hormones cycle over a 28-30 day (on average) timeframe, not just a 24-hour clock, so it is important we consider the energy balance and hormonal patterns available for use over the entire menstrual cycle, not just in the narrower field of day by day! (Another reason, that women do need to consider their training schedules and formats very differently to men!)

Vitti claims (and many who have tried it will back her up!) that when we work our exercise schedules in this way, you are able to optimize your hormones and health! So you have a happier cycle, improved relationship to exercise and enhanced wellbeing.

Cycle syncing your workout can be a powerful tool to giving yourself permission to vary your workouts across the month – without feeling like you are “failing” anything, as you can often feel conditioned thanks to marketing messaging and social media comparison, of having to be “on” all year round! When looking at cycle syncing your workouts, you suddenly realise it’s not just that you’re feeling lazier or demotivated at a particular time – quite literally your hormones are operating in such a way they are asking you to slow down and rest, or in reverse, use up some excess energy and push ahead!

How To Start Cycle Syncing Your Workout

When looking to start cycle syncing your exercise, you obviously need to have a general idea of where you are within your cycle! As your menstrual cycle is an incredible tool that allows you to gauge an idea of your overall health – it is actually considered a vital health sign – tracking your cycle is thoroughly recommended as a process through which to develop a more intuitive connection with your body. This is particularly important for women who may encounter regular disruption to their cycles, such as those with PCOS or other hormonal imbalances.

read more about pcos

Personally, I recommend using either the Flo or Clue apps, as they allow for quick and easy input of an array of data. Plus, the calendar functions are particularly helpful for when you’re trying to remember when the first day of your last period is…(surely, not just me?!)

For a more qualitative understanding of your period, I also recommended checking out the Period Journal by ilo – which will ask guided questions to help you consider your emotional, energetic and holistic states during each day of your cycle.

workout for each phase of your cycle

  1. the Menstrual Phase

rest, recovery, turn inward

What’s going on hormonally?

During the first phase of your cycle – when you begin bleeding – your body is going through some intense processes. The hormone progesterone plummets, causing the uterine lining to shed and you may notice many of the symptoms commonly associated with your period; such as cramping, lower back ache, headaches and/or fatigue.

What movement to do?

In this phase, Vitti suggests making time for rest and recovery – sans guilt! The most important thing to note during this phase, is to listen to the body and take action that seems intuitively supportive. As the body is already facing a taxing load, giving yourself a little bit of extra time for recovery and TLC will allow the body to reset for the next cycle. If it helps with your symptoms, or if you feel so inclined, the cycle syncing workouts for the menstrual phase include light exercise, such as a walk, Pilates, gentle Yoga or restorative mindful practices, which can be very beneficial to easing tension out of the body!

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MenstrualPhaseCycleSyncingWorkout

2. the Follicular Phase

increase energy, try something new!

What’s going on hormonally?

In the second stage of your cycle, the pituitary gland starts to secrete Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which initiates the development of 5-20 follicles in the ovaries. As these follicles mature in eggs, there is a release of estrogen, preparing the lining of the uterus in the chance impregnation were to occur. As these levels are recognised the body, they pituitary gland will then  begin to increase levels of luteinising hormone (LH), which will lead us into the next stage.

What movement to do?

This phase is the time to go and start a new routine, or attend a class you’ve been interesting in trialling out! All and any kind of movement that tickles your fancy is a go during this phase, as you’ll have the energy, drive and stamina to move through the workout of your choice. When cycle syncing your workout in the follicular phase, activities like spin, boxing, circuit classes or hikes will all feel stimulating and you will be supported by the energy surge that accompanies this phase.

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3. the Ovulatory Phase

load up the resistance, schedule in a social sweat session

What’s going on hormonally?

During the ovulatory phase, one mature egg is released by the ovary and sweeps along the fallopian tube to where (if pregnancy were to occur) fertilisation in the uterus takes place. In this stage, both estrogen and progesterone levels rise to support the possibility of pregnancy.

What movement to do?

During the ovulatory phase, you may find you are more inclined to want to attend group classes or book in workouts with your friends, as you will instinctively crave more social interactions, according to Vitti. This is also the phase where you can take on the most strenuous or taxing forms of exercising, such as resistance training and weight lifting. You may also want to increase the intensity, working in intervals, plyometric or higher intensity runs when cycle syncing your workouts within the ovulatory phase.

4. the Luteal Phase

light intensity, nourishing + mindful movement

Whats going on hormonally?

After the release of the egg from the follicle, the actual structure of the ruptured follicle remains on the ovary and begins to release more progesterone, alongside some oestrogen – in the chance fertilisation were to occur and lining of the uterus needs to be maintained for a healthy pregnancy to take place. If impregnation doesn’t occur, the ruptured follicle will disintegrate away, which causes a sharp drop in progesterone levels. This is the phase of the menstrual cycle often associated with PMS symptoms.

What movement to do?

During the luteal phase, as the body approaches the start of the menstrual phase, you may notice you wish to lower the intensity of your exercise again. Activities like Pilates, walking, resistance training or Yoga practices, will feel nourishing, but not overtly taxing on the body as you approach your menstruation.

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