How women can maximize exercise by syncing fitness to menstrual cycle

Women’s fitness experts reveal how YOU can maximize your weight loss and muscle-building potential by syncing your training program with your menstrual cycle

  • Fitness instructors say women could boost their fitness by syncing to their cycle
  • Those who have tried it say it is ‘revolutionary’, but the science remains patchy
  • READ MORE: Hormone coach details how to sync your diet and cycle

One of the clichés in fitness circles is ‘no pain, no gain’ — but experts are now encouraging women to listen to their bodies.

‘Cycle syncing’ involves syncing up your exercise program with your menstrual cycle to maximize fat loss, muscle-building and cardio.

When a woman is furthest from her period energy levels are at their highest because of increased blood circulation and prevalence of female sex hormones.

During menstruation, the loss of blood a woman suffers leads to her getting fatigued more easily because less oxygen is circulating around her body.

The above graphic shows how to sync your menstrual cycle to your exercise regime. Fitness instructors said it was important to work in at least two rest days per week

Fitness coach Kylie Churnetski (left), based in Nashville, Tennessee, is among those urging women to try syncing exercise to their menstrual cycle. Yoga instructor and mother-of-three Ashley Sondergaard, from Minneapolis, Minnnesota, is among those who say the practice has been ‘pretty transformational’ for her exercise routines

Backing the fitness hack, Tennessee-based fitness coach Kylie Churnetski told ‘We live in a man’s world in the sense that a lot of our fitness regimens are often one-type-fits-all — and that fits a man’s gaze.

‘But when we start focusing on our menstrual cycle, we are able to put the puzzle pieces together.’

She added: ‘If you are pushing yourself too hard and it is not what your body needs, a lot of the time you burn out and you feel like a failure for not succeeding.

‘But you were never set up to succeed in that kind of way.’

How to sync your diet and your menstrual cycle, according to a nutritionist 

Paige Lindgren, a nutritionist in LA,  urged others to start syncing diet and menstrual cycle. 

There is scientific evidence that cycle syncing can help with a woman’s weight loss.

It includes a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which tracked 31 women over six months.

The paper found women who synced their diet and exercise to their cycle lost about 14.3 percent of their body weight and 1.1inches from their waist.

Women who only underwent a diet and workout plan but did not sync to their cycle lost 8.3 percent of their weight on average and 0.61inches off their waist over that time.

There is also some suggestion that syncing up a woman’s diet to her menstrual cycle can also help because it may help her mood and to feel more energetic.

Experts at Anglia Ruskin University, a sports research center in the UK, say that while the measure may help women lose weight and stay fit in practice, many struggle with the technique because of natural shifts in their cycle.

They wrote in the Conversation: ‘First, most research on the menstrual cycle’s impact on fitness assumes the cycle has a regular pattern of 28 days.

‘But 46 percent of women have cycle lengths that fluctuate by around seven days — with a further 20 percent exhibiting fluctuations of up to 14 days.’

They also said that the fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen levels vary between each cycle, impacting how much energy someone has and their mood.

The Anglia Ruskin team concluded: ‘So, while the idea of syncing your menstrual cycle with your workouts seems logical, the outcomes each person sees are likely to vary.’

Proponents of cycle syncing urge women to do high-intensity exercises during the follicular and ovulation phases of their cycle, typically days eight to 15.

During the follicular phase a follicle is growing and maturing in the ovary into an egg, which is then released during ovulation.

Over this period levels of estrogen rise and then peak when an egg is released, boosting women’s energy levels.  

Fitness instructors say this is the best time to tackle more intense exercise such as cycling, running, cross fit and high-intensity workouts.

Women can also focus on weight lifting at this time, perhaps even lifting heavier weights or trying more sets and repetitions than normal. 

Kim Perry, a fitness instructor in New York City, recommends cycle syncing saying that it has even allowed her to do two workouts a day at times

In the luteal phase, from about days 16 to 28, the egg travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. 

Progesterone and estrogen levels also rise, boosting energy, to cause the lining of the uterus to build up, but then start to drop off about halfway through.

On average, they hit a low point during menstruation — from days one to seven — when the uterus lining is shed and a woman has a period.

During this period of lower energy levels, fitness instructors recommended tapering off and focusing on low-intensity workouts such as yoga, pilates, a light swim or even just a walk.

They also told that it was essential to fit at least two rest days into every week no matter what cycle stage someone is in. 

Rest days are essential to allow the body time to recover and repair and strengthen cells that were strained during a workout.

Women who have cycle synced their exercise and now swear by the practice include Ashley Sondergaard, 36, a yoga instructor and mother-of-three based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

‘When you are in the stage of life as a mother, it is pretty transformational,’ she said.

‘It’s like the body literally speaking to me. I realized I was able to preserve my energy more and actually enjoy the experience of my cycle.’

Kim Perry, a fitness coach in New York City, has also expounded on the benefits of cycle syncing.

She said in her podcast ‘You’re Glowing’ that the method has allowed her to even do two intense workouts on days when she is in the follicular and ovulation phases.

Recommending the method, she said: ‘If you want to work out, maybe you will get up one morning and you’ll do HIIT workouts for the next three weeks to get your butt in shape.

‘But if you get to day four and you have a period, your body doesn’t want to do that and your body is telling you to rest.’

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