Have you ever been in this situation? For the past couple of weeks, you’ve been doing so well in your workouts, you’re hitting your personal best and you haven’t missed a session. And out of the sudden, you lose all motivation, you feel sluggish and all you want to do is snack on chips and ice cream while watching TV.


I go through this EVERY MONTH! Ladies, WE ARE NOT MEN! Our body does not function like a MAN, we go through our monthly menstrual cycle, hence our hormones go up and down almost every week.

We can’t always expect to train like a man and we shouldn’t feel bad about it when you can’t push as hard on certain days. But that also doesn’t mean you should just sit back and do nothing.

So let’s understand the menstrual cycle and how we women CAN adjust our exercise routine and also food intake to match our body’s internal rhythms.

In general, the menstrual cycle occurs in two phases. The first phase, which is called the follicular phase, starts on the first day of your period and lasts until the day you ovulate. The second phase is called the luteal phase. This phase starts the day after you ovulate, and goes on until the day you start your period. On average, it’s a 28-day cycle.

Let’s dive and get to know the FOLLICULAR PHASE


Day 1 – Day 7 (MENSTRUAL)

So what’s going on?

  • This is the start of your menstrual cycle. In the first few days of the cycle, both estrogen and progesterone hormones are low. Beginning around day 4 to 5, our estrogen levels begin to rise gradually.
  • Estrogen will continue to rise steadily in this phase, but progesterone will remain relatively low.
  • What this means is that your body’s pain tolerance increases and your muscles recover quicker as well.

So what workout should you be doing?

  • If you don’t experience any period cramps or discomfort, this is THE best time for you to push yourself at a much higher intensity hit and those heavy weights.
  • Your body will be performing at its peak so this is the time to really embrace your workout.
  • Because you’re more tolerant to pain, those HIIT classes or bootcamp, will NOT feel as difficult. So try lifting heavier than you’re used.
  • However if you’re someone who does suffer from period cramps, then take it easy. Do gentle exercises such as yoga or just brisk walking, which can help release the pain and discomfort.

What should you be eating?

  • During this phase, your body uses carbs as its main source of fuel.
  • So good news ladies, you can increase your carb intake during this time especially after your workout to make sure your body doesn’t burn out. I’m talking about good carbs alright, such as sweet potatoes, yams, rice, or starchy vegetables or oats.


Day 7 – Day 14 (LATE FOLLICULAR)

So what’s going on?

  • This stage is right after menstruating. Your estrogen levels will continue to increase to its peak and progesterone will still remain relatively low.

So what workout should you be doing?

  • Estrogen also helps the body build muscles at a faster pace, so take advantage of this hormone change and this is the best time to hit those heavy weights, focusing on total body strength training.
  • But be sure to pay attention to your warm up and cool downs as your muscles are more vulnerable to injuries at this stage.

What should you be eating?

  • Estrogen also helps with suppressing appetite, so it makes it easier for you to opt for healthier foods.
  • So eat a well balanced diet. You can increase your protein and carb intake slightly, especially after an intense strength training session.

Let’s move on to the next main phase, which is the Luteal phase. This phase begins right after ovulation and lasts from about Day 14 – Day 28.



Week 3 and 4: Day 14 – Day 28

So what’s going on?

  • I like to call this phase the roller coaster phase.
  • Both estrogen and progesterone rise sharply 1 – 2 days after ovulation. But estrogen dips sharply after and raises again roughly around Day 22.
  • If pregnancy does not happen, then our hormones start to dip again.

So what workout should you be doing?

  • This is the time you might be wondering, why does my workout feel so crappy. Why can’t I push as hard? Why I’m feeling sluggish?
  • That’s because high estrogen levels inhibit carbohydrate access, hence you can’t hit those intensities like the week before.
  • During this phase, your body turns to FAT AS FUEL instead of carbs.
  • So the good news is, your body is now burning fat rather than carbs or glycogen, so you really want to focus on CARDIO to make the most of your workout.
  • Go for steady pace cardio such as a bike ride, trail run or swimming rather than high intensity workout.
  • This is also when the muscle breakdown increases, hence it takes longer for you to recover from your workout. So choose moderation workout that’s less intense.

What should you be eating?

  • Ladies, this is when all the PMS symptoms start to hit: you might crave for sugar or high fat food, you have bigger appetite, you feel sluggish, you have trouble sleeping, your body retains more water, you feel bloated and you might suffer from mild cramps too.
  • You might lose your motivation BUT power through your workout, as much as possible, eat well and you WILL feel better.



So why is it important to know this? We are all very different and it takes time to really understand your body. If you have this knowledge, you’re able to take advantage of the hormonal benefits and overcome the challenges by adjusting and changing your workout routine and also food intake.

I’ve also put together a 28-Day Workout Plan to Train According to Your Menstrual Cycle. Click on the link below to download and print it out and start your training! Again, remember this is a guideline as there is very limited research in regards to training with your menstrual cycle. Give it a try, make changes and see what works for you.

>> Download PDF <<
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