How To 'Cycle Sync', So You Are Exercising With Your Hormones Instead of Against Them by Monica Yates
Cycle syncing is a bit of a ‘buzz’ word these days, and I'm so supportive of more women hopping on the bandwagon of working with their bodies instead of against them. Obviously, the content on TikTok and Instagram lacks context because of the limited characters, and trust me when I say understanding your cycle is something that you want to fully grasp, so you’re actually doing it correctly.
When we use the term 'cycle syncing', we are referring to aligning the way that you live your life with the different phases of your cycle. Why? Because our hormones are different each week of the month and thus we have different 'superpowers' each week.
Now firstly, I do not emphasize this in an overbearing way. I don’t only eat slow-cooked meats during my luteal phase or only eat raw cucumber in ovulation. The main part of my life that I cycle sync is sleeping/workload and exercise.
One of the most important things that I see the current content on social media leaving out is that your cycle days are different from someone else's. So whilst someone might say in their IG reel to do cardio between days 5-14, you actually might only have a 3-day period and ovulate on day 18, in which case you would do cardio on days 3-18.
I am here to provide you with an accurate, individualized guide to working out as a female. And let me just say, in terms of having optimal hormone health and therefore maintaining your body’s healthy weight, having healthy skin, and feeling good every morning - doing less exercise is often better because if you stress your body out too much (even with good stress like exercise), the cascade effect is not ideal.
On your period: first 1-2 days, do light exercise like stretching or a walk, and then you can move into a chill pilates class (but nothing with an emphasis on core exercises, AKA let the abs rest).
From the last day of your bleed up to the day of ovulation: Your energy will start to slowly increase, and as it does, you can pick up the spice and intensity of your workouts.
After ovulation (luteal phase): lower the intensity of your workouts and stick to a light, low impact cardio class (IF you feel like it) and toning classes. Try to avoid doing HIIT, heavy weights, and major cardio, as these cause your adrenaline to increase, which in turn reduces your progesterone (the hormone that you want to be high during this phase). Low progesterone storage causes bloating, PMS, weight gain, and other hormonal imbalances. During the luteal phase, you want your stress to be minimized. Think ‘less is more.’
Let’s dive deeper into each phase…
One thing to note is if you are on any hormonal birth control, especially the pill, you do not actually have a ‘cycle’ (if you want to better understand how the pill affects your body, listen to this podcast episode). So, if you’re on hormonal birth control, you can exercise however and whenever you like. For those of us in our natural rhythms, we can often feel the subtle shifts between our phases. For example, between ovulation and the luteal phase, women will often have less desire to be out and social; they’ll want to sleep more and create more of a ‘cozy’ vibe. During our bleed, we often want to go into our cocoon and not talk to anyone. It’s an intuitive feeling that we have as women, and by listening to our body’s signals and nudges, we can create more harmony and a stronger, healthier relationship with ourselves.
In order to reap the benefits of your follicular and ovulation phases, you need to prioritize your rest phases. During your period, you want to try to work less and sleep more. So for me, I will push things off that aren’t urgent because I know that in a week, I’ll be able to get more work done. As you finish your bleed and your energy increases, this is the time to be more social and increase your workload because you can feel energized even off less sleep. In your luteal phase (after you ovulate), you need more sleep, less stress, and to reduce stressful work where possible.
As you start to find your rhythm, a great idea is to actually, ‘get ahead’, during your ovulation phase. Cook more, work ahead, and go see your friends these days so that you’re not pulling your hair out during your luteal phase.
Over time you'll get into this flow with yourself and notice that you have more energy, better skin, less bloating, you might lose a bit of that ‘puffy’ weight, you’ll sleep better, have a higher libido, and feel more creative. This is all due to the fact that you’re working with the hormonal fluctuations that happen with estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone during our cycle.
Women are not made to eat the same steak every day. We want to pick something different for dinner every night. We are beings that thrive on pleasure and feeling in tune with our senses. So when we keep ourselves stuck in this same day-old 24-hour cycle, it keeps our body starving for the ‘seasons.’ This shows up as adrenal fatigue, lack of creativity, not much ‘zest’ for life, and a pretty ‘meh’ sex life.
No need to make this a complicated thing for yourself. Start by shifting the way that you exercise and notice how that feels. Then add being proactive with work and sleep, and you’ll REALLY feel the difference in your mind and body.
Monica is a trauma healer, feminine/masculine embodiment coach, and period whisperer (for women). She’s the host of Feminine As F*ck Podcast, a soon-to-be author, and runs a 7 figure business helping people from all walks of life across the globe break free of the trauma & energetic blocks that hold them back from living their dream life. Over the past 6 years working with her clients, she has developed numerous life-changing programs and events with her signature, original modalities that have healed thousands of people from their trauma and triggers so that they can manifest their dream life.