Do you find that your workouts tend to fall by the wayside for a week every month?
Are you like so many women out there (myself included) that cringe at the thought of working out when your cycle gets under way?
I know. It sucks. But remember that a properly planned workout will almost always make you feel better.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to prevent your period from postponing your progress.
The PMS Period
It’s a week before your period is supposed to arrive and you’re already feeling it.
Bloating, water retention, and a looming breakdown any second.
As you know, all of this whackiness comes from fluctuating hormones that cause you to experience mood swings, an elevated body temp, and overall fatigue.
When it comes to your workouts, these shifts take a toll. Your cardiovascular endurance feels weak, and you get tired a whole lot faster than normal.
The solution? Lower intensity workouts.
Go for a 30 minute brisk walk or take an easy bike ride. Cap it off with 15-30 minutes of yoga or stretching and you’re good.
Now, if you're dead set on strength training, back down on the weights a little. Now is not the time to go for a PR. Focus on doing half the number of sets you normally do (remember, your endurance is down), and use a weight you can confidently do.
This is the perfect time to work on technique. That way, when youre back to 100%, you’ll be primed for some big progress.
If you’re simply too tired to do any lifting at all, yoga may be the better approach to consider.
PMS Tips for Your Life Outside the Gym
Remember to give yourself a little extra care along with some rest and relaxation during this phase as well.
A hot water bottle placed over your stomach can help to relieve any cramping that may be going on, which can make it easier to make it to the gym in the first place.
On the nutrition side of things, your body will not be quite as insulin sensitive during this period. You can work with your own biology by focusing on a diet that’s a bit higher in fats and lower in carbs.
Even if you're craving carbs, that may not be what your body needs. Try to go for a lower carb diet the next time you're PMSing and see if you notice a difference. I bet you do.
That means you can cut back a little on the starch you eat dinner. You don’t have to eliminate it completely, but reducing the portion will help you combat the water retention that’s going on.
With the lower carbs, this it the perfect time to load up on foods like avocados, natural nut butters, coconut oil, and fatty sources of fish.
The Menstrual Phase
After you’ve finished PMSing and your period hits, you may find that you start to feel better.
You’ll start to notice that the water retention and bloating is on it’s way out. It may take a day or two into your period to notice this effect, but take comfort that you’re almost in the clear.
At this point, you’ll want to listen to your body.
You may be able to start ramping up their workout routine right away at this point, focusing on lifting more weight and pushing their limits again.
Or, you may still feel a little run down. If that’s case, don’t jump back into full intensity. Let your body be the judge of this and guide you.
As the week goes on, you should feel better. So, treat the week of your period as a transition week. As you start to get back to normal, transition into harder training.
The good news is that carbs can start to come back in your diet. Go back to your regular eating pattern where you have your full serving of starch at dinner on training days.
(If you’re wondering what I’m talking about with these carbohydrate recommendations, check out the Bikini Body Nutrition Guide HERE).
This means you will have to cut back on the higher fat foods you were having the last week. But, if you ask me, that’s a worthwhile transition. I’d take rice and sweet potatoes over nuts and avocado any day.
Wrapping it Up
There you have the main facts to know and remember regarding exercise and your period.
To sum it all up:
- During the phase when PMS symptoms are at their worst (the week before your period), opt for lighter workouts and a lower carb diet.
- During your period, treat is a transition week and ramp up the workout intensity as you see fit. Feel free to start bringing the carbs back into your diet
- The week after your period, get back to normal! You’re good to go for another month. Enjoy the hard training!
And remember this:
Some activity – even if it’s just a light walk or yoga class will help improve blood circulation, relieve cramping, and help bring you more energy.
Always think about that when you’re feeling less than excited about the thought of exercise.
Once you do get going, you’ll be happy you did.
P.S. Now that you know how to modify your workouts when your period hits, make sure the workouts you’re doing are as effective as possible.