Training with your period

Training when you’ve got your period shouldn’t be a problem.

Having your period doesn’t mean you can’t train.

Women’s experience of the menstruation cycle varies greatly, with some sailing through their monthlies and others doubled up with cramps, reaching for Naprogesic and washing them down with ice-cream – and tears. If you’re unlucky and drew the short straw, there are ways to work your training around this physical and emotional rollercoaster.

A reminder – day 1 of the follicular phase is the first day of your period. Bleeding takes place for around 5-7 days. The follicular phase ends with ovulation around day 14. The luteal phase starts at ovulation with a massive surge in oestrogen and luteinising hormone and continues until approximately day 28, when the whole cycle starts again.
Tired and lethargic
Whilst the drop in iron from menstrual blood loss is not significant enough to cause anaemia in itself, that’s not to say you won’t feel a little more tired than usual. Understand this may not be the session in which you are going to pump out personal bests.
Cramps and pelvic discomfort
Wear looser pants and skip your abdominal exercises – one day won’t matter. Also, be aware of extra laxity in the pelvic floor and pelvis due to hormones. Avoid high impact movements if you feel you have less bladder control or ligaments pulling deep within the pelvis.
Emotional and unmotivated
Keep a diary so you can plan your workout days around your cycle – and share this info with your trainer if you have one. Ideally do a lighter session during the first 3 days of your period and if you need it, schedule a rest day. This way you are not copping out, it is part of your fitness plan.
Hot and bothered
The drop in plasma volume during the luteal phase affects training. Onset of sweating occurs later diminishing your body’s ability to cool itself and your blood is thicker so moves less efficiently between muscles, impacting both performance and recovery. Train at a cooler time of day or in air-conditioning and consciously rehydrate before, during and after your session to minimise these effects.
Light headed and hungry
During the luteal phase your blood sugar levels will be the lowest and that can reduce your lactate threshold, meaning you feel the burn or fatigue faster than normal. Have a light snack 30 minutes before working out and within 15 minutes after and opt for a shorter session at this time.

By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub

Rachel Livingstone

Rachel is a PT and Maternal Health specialist who found the gym at 14 through her weight lifting dad and never looked back. Originally from the UK she finally settled her wanderlusting feet on the shores of Sydney and can often be found on the back of a paddleboard exploring Rose Bay and the beautiful harbour.

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