How your Period may be affecting your Workout

Jul 14th, 2016

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How your Period may be affecting your Workout

There I was working out like SHE-RA for a two whole weeks, feeling on top of the world, hitting PB’s  and I was even brave enough to think WOW, I am really improving.

I rested over the weekend, went to workout only 2 days later and.…

What the hell happened… 

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SHE-RA had left the building and only Olive Oil was left. No harm meant Olive, but I was really enjoying that on top of the world feeling.

I had nothing, absolutely nothing to give.  A workout that should have been a love workout for me was awful.

I mean so awful that I quit, I had nothing in my body or my mind and I gave up.

It was no better the next day. I sat at the end of the session in a heap, close to tears.

I asked myself the normal questions.

Diet – Are you eating a healthy balanced diet? Enough Protein, Carbs, Calories?  Not too much junk? 

Rest –  Are you doing too much? Are you pushing yourself too hard?

Nothing had changed, I was of course pushing myself, but not in a crazy way and I was not starving myself.

Oh well, sometimes you have days like that, maybe I am being too hard on myself.

But, this didn’t seem good enough, why was I having such a bad time?

This slump only lasted a week, with only 2 days being horrific. A week later I was back on top form and also my period had started.

Oh, Hold On.. 

Now, I am not a hugely confident period talker.

I don’t walk in the shop, buy tampons and walk out with my head held high.

No, I am the person who buys other shopping, places the shopping on top of the tampons and pays for it all quickly, stuffs the tampons in the bag and thinks, phew that is done.

Why I am like this I have no idea. It’s just who I am.

I am also they type of woman who suffers horrendously at ‘that time of the month’ and I live in envy of the ladies that don’t.

I get severely depressed, angry, irrational and go a little tears and tantrums, until I wear myself out and think even darker thoughts.  It is a crazy time for me and one I have only come to understand recently.

But apart from crazy emotions,  periods can also impact on our fitness performance.

Our monthly cycle creates a rollercoaster for how we feel when we are working out.

Certain times we are awesome and on fire, other times we just feel sluggish, heavy, tired, like we are giving everything and getting nowhere and we don’t understand why.

So, what is going on?

To keep it all simple I am going to pretend we are all the same and our cycle is 28 days long. (Yes, I know yours may be shorter or longer but today we are average).

Day 1 – 5 (or up to 7)

Day 1 is the first day of your period . This is not the worst time for most of us, in fact it can be a god send as we feel a lot less PMS’y. 

Yes, we are bleeding and have the worry of appropriate gym clothing, underwear, which sanitary products to choose, but we are no longer crying, yelling, or wanting to kick things, that to be honest, would normally just be a little niggle and require a shake of the head, not actually a full blown melt down.

Day 5- 13 (Follicular Phase)

After your period  and sometimes during is when you feel like SHE-RA. 

This is the perfect time to crank up your workouts. You can take on the world or maybe even just a HIIT workout. The best thing about this time is your pain threshold is higher, you are more likely to hit PB’s. You feel strong.  Your body is loving the carbs and is using them to fuel those muscle gains.

This is the perfect time for those hard intense workouts, wether it be Metafit, Crossfit, Lifting, Interval Training, speed running sessions, hill sprints and all the other high intensity activities. 

You can push yourself harder and reap the rewards for that hard work.

Day 14 (Ovulation Time)

Your body feels warmer and is less tolerant to heat, as your sweat responses are delayed your body gets to a higher temperature before you start to sweat and get rid of the excess heat. Making that intense workout feel even harder

Day 15- 28 (Luteal Phase)

Oh my god, this is the danger zone, for me and lots of other women.  

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This is the irrational, crazy time for some of us.  You may cry over things that you would normally class as insignificant, you may shout, scream, kick things and act like a crazy, snappy turtle.

If you suffer really bad, it can lead you to major depression and thoughts of ending your life, which you would never, normally consider. (premenstral dysphoric disorder)

On top of the mood changes your body changes as well. You may suffer

  • muscle pain
  • headaches
  • weight gain
  • nausea
  • feel sluggish
  • bloated
  • tired

Your metabolism also changes, you are more hungry than normal and your body uses fats for energy over carbs, fats release energy slower so you have less power.

However, you also burn up calories faster than any other time of the month. (phew,  every cloud has a silver lining -unfortunately it’s not that many more)

Should you just give up and rest at this time?

No.

You may not feel like it but your body is more than capable of doing your normal workout. Not only that, working out can actually make us feel much better.

You may not be performing at your best, you may not be able to lift as well as you could. You may feel a little worse in your high intensity sessions but your endurance is not affected, so you may just need to adapt your working out a little.

Adapting your workout 

You should always do what you love and  listen to your body.

If you do not suffer, you don’t need to change anything.  If you manage through it that is fine as well. However, if you are having a day where every move is ridiculously hard and you just feel like giving in, change things up a little to suit your highs and lows

Menstrual Optimisation 

When you have more energy such as during your period or just after, be more intense with your workouts. 

Your hormones are working to your advantage so you can push harder and get more out of short, fast paced workouts.  This is the ideal time for high intensity workouts and getting PB’s in your strength workouts. 

When you feel sluggish, turn it down a little but not off. Go for a jog, a run, a cycle rather than those interval sprints. Your body may just thank you for it.

If it all feels just too much, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Take a day off, go to Yoga for relaxation or pick something that will release some of that tension like Boxercise, nothing is as stress busting as hitting those pads.

Whatever you do don’t stop exercising. You may feel bloated, like you are getting no-where and having to work twice as hard but you are still improving all of the time.

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