Exercising with Your Menstrual Cycle

Exercising with Your Menstrual Cycle

A women’s menstrual cycle can have a huge effect on her metabolic state and exercise results.

Here are the need to knows when considering your exercise program:

There are four stages of the menstrual cycle;

1: Maturation

2: Follicular

3: Ovulation

4: Luteal


The follicular phase:

  • ‘Low’ hormone phase
  • Lower body temperature and lower levels of progesterone and oestrogen before ovulation.
  • Is when women should focus on progress – this is characteristic of higher tolerance for pain and increased levels of endurance.
  • During this time our insulin sensitivity also increases hence allowing us to use more carbohydrates to fuel the session. This is the best time for HIIT training and sprinting.


The ovulation phase:

  • Is when women are more prone to injury but strength levels are still high.
  • This is when oestrogen peaks and hormone Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and egg is released.
  • Oestrogen can effect ligament laxity, meaning you may be at increased risk of injury i.e., subluxations and knee injuries.
  • Luteinising hormone (LH) is also released and causes central nervous system fatigue and a higher body temperature.
  • Progesterone has a catabolic effect and can slow down muscle recovery


The luteal phase:

  • Is when the body relies more on fats as a fuel source
  • Body temperatures will be higher
  • Body may retain more water due to PMS increases in cortisol, thus increasing sodium levels and causing retention.
  • Choosing workouts that utilise fat as a fuel perhaps a better choice
  • Good time for active recovery or de-loading in strength training (ESSA, 2018).


If you have any concerns about exercising suitably for your menstrual cycle contact our Accredited Exercise Physiologist Bec Ryan-Mills.

Written by Bec Ryan Mills


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