This one is for all of the individuals who experience a menstrual cycle. For those who don't have a menstrual cycle, you likely are close with someone who does, so I still encourage you to read this and educate yourself.
There's been a trend on social media by fitness influencers (some who are personal trainers) suggesting that you need to be doing a specific type of exercise during each phase of your cycle.
These fitspo gal pals claim the following:
Follicular phase -- do HIIT or cardio
Ovulation phase -- do HIIT, strength training, circuit training, or cardio
Luteal phase -- do yoga, pilates, or light
Menstrual phase -- do yoga, stretching, or light cardio
Although all of these suggestions encourage movement (I'm happy to see that), it is unsettling for a couple reasons.
1. Not every menstruating human experiences symptoms and/or feels impacted throughout their cycle or during their period.
2. Yes, there's consistency of movement throughout all cycles, but it is inconsistent with the type of movement making it challenging to progress with any of the choices (goodbye, progressive overload).
For example, if you only strength training 1-2 weeks out of the month, it's going to be very hard to progress over time.
Or, if you only do yoga 2 weeks out of the month, it's going to be challenging to improve your practice.
Things to note:
It is common to have ebbs and flows throughout your workouts, regardless if you have a cycle or not. This is why there is consistent communication between my clients and I about how they are feeling. It is normal to vary intensities of workouts (hello, RPE Scale). It is also true that a person cannot give 100% effort every workout, even at varying intensities. Things like stress, sleep, nutrition, and hydration can all affect how your workouts feel and how you approach them. This doesn't mean you need to ditch your lifts for the week and only lightly stretch or do light cardio.
- Find movement you enjoy and can consistently do week-after-week and month-after-month. We're team long-term movement 'round here.
- Communicate with your coach. Explain how you're feeling and why you could be feeling that way. This includes sleep, stress, nutrition, hydration, and non-exercise movement.
- Understand that every person is an individual. Some people will be affected by each phase of their cycle, some will be affected for only one phase of their cycle, and some people will be completely unaffected throughout. Every body is different.
My suggestion to you is to find movement you like and that can be easily adjusted in intensity or frequency depending on how you feel.