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It is harder to workout if you have periods! My 5 point guide for training during the cycle.

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Until recently, as a typical inconsiderate male human, I had not fully appreciated how hard it is for people to train through their menstrual cycle. I apologise for my lack of care and insight. To make up for this failing, I hope you can benefit from my simple guide below.

exercise workouts for women and the menstrual cycle. hormone changes during menstrual cycle how it effects you fitness
Drop some caltrops behind you!

If you are a man you just train. If you have periods, there is so much more going on biochemically in the body that can cause havoc!


"The medical textbooks" have been written by men. Most fitness traditions (some of it garbage) are written by men. Therefore it is no surprise that this topic has been largely ignored. I was thinking about my daughter (currently 3 years) and imagined the poor thing suddenly in the midst of her first menstrual cycle aged 12 and having to do PE. I imagined my psycho PE teacher from school, shouting at her and I wanted to go batman on him! I ask all men to think about this. At least those with daughter's or a shred of empathy.

exercise workouts for women and the menstrual cycle. hormone changes during menstrual cycle how it effects you fitness
Hi, we are men, we wrote the medical textbook. So it is all about us!

So what can you do to help yourself?


It is important that all people who train understand the basic hormonal biology of the menstrual cycle. The cycle varies in length therefore bullet points are more useful for personal planning than a graph.


1) First half of your cycle ESTROGEN dominant = better workouts.


2) Mid cycle before ovulation = ESTROGEN SURGE can help muscle building! You will have your highest energy level so train hard!


3) At ovulation PROGESTERONE is dominant. SEROTONIN reduces = big reduction in energy levels and emotional disruption can lead to lack of desire to train.


4) Second half of your cycle = generally less energy. Progesterone does however increase flexibility.


5) Period starts ESTROGEN and PROGESTERONE drop massively. Lowest energy levels.


Everyone is different!

exercise workouts for women and the menstrual cycle. hormone changes during menstrual cycle how it effects you fitness
V-sit crunches might be a bit uncomfortable right now!

There is a lot of variation in the intensity of people's periods. Also the fitter you become the easier it becomes to train through it. Overall being fitter and healthier will be of benefit to your body and brain.


During the low points in your cycle If you can handle high impact acute fitness go for it, but if not, listen to your body and do something else. Do not forget that muscle building bonus pre-ovulation! That is one perk you do have!


I believe that just knowing the basic points above and timetabling it into your fitness regime will really help. Also the act of acknowledgement can help everyone train better alone or with others. We should all be open and honest about this topic and then everyone can help each other train better! Just tell the over-encouraging trainer, "I'm currently high in progesterone and low in serotonin. Do you not understand the mechanisms at play here!" That will shut them up!

exercise workouts for women and the menstrual cycle. hormone changes during menstrual cycle how it effects you fitness
Take that!

Please contact me directly for media enquiries, academic enquiries, questions and links to research paper's. Thank you! ©️ 2021 Dan Raynham.

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