Ask the Experts: Movement and Exercise Throughout Your Menstrual Cycle

Has this ever happened to you? You do your favorite Cardio Burn class one week, and you feel amazing. You’re strong, you’re powerful, you’re flooded with endorphins after. You’re psyched to do the same class again at the same time next week, but… it’s like you’ve lost your energy level mojo. You feel sluggish, like you can barely do the class, even though you swear you were crushing it just the week before. What gives? The answer may lie in where you are in your menstrual cycle. Learn more from our experts before reading on.


Stages of the menstrual cycle

When we talk about cycles that the body goes through, most people know about circadian rhythm—a cycle that lasts about a day. But the body also has infradian rhythms, meaning, cycles that last longer than a day. One of the body’s infradian rhythms is the menstrual cycle, which breaks down into four phases: the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase, and luteal phase.

Energy levels during your cycle

At different times in your cycle, your body will have a different capacity for what it can do. The Pvolve Method has a workout for every stage of your cycle, some days, you’ll feel geared up for an intense Cardio Burn class while others you'll be aching for a Recover & Stretch class.

Ideal menstrual cycle workouts

The more you work with your body’s internal rhythms, the more you’ll be able to figure out what your body needs, and learn how to give yourself permission to listen to those cues. That’s what Antonietta sees as one of the big takeaways.

“[Energy] ebbs and flows, so allowing time for that recuperative, restorative time for yourself [is important]. It’s really about this holistic picture of what you need, because it’s not just one thing,” says Vicario.

What does exercise do to your menstrual cycle?

We turned to our experts Alexia Acebo, Contributing Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Maeve McEwen, Director of Programming & Head Trainer and Antonietta Vicario, Chief Training Officer to break down how to work with your cycle to cultivate a better fitness routine.   

The Menstrual Phase

The menstrual phase is when the uterine lining is shed, AKA your period, which usually lasts from days one to six of your cycle. At this point, hormones are at their lowest. How this manifests looks different for everyone—you might have cramps, you might not—but Maeve says that no matter how your body responds, the menstrual phase is a time to connect mindset to movement.

“This is your chance to really release and get rid of anything that’s not serving you,” says Maeve. 

Exercise in this phase looks like gentle movement: spinal rotations and subtle ab activation that can speak to lower back pain, a common complaint during the menstrual phase. Try a Recover & Stretch class to lean into that reflective, restorative energy.

The Follicular Phase

Once the uterine lining has been shed and hormones start to rise, your body moves into the follicular phase, usually lasting from days seven to 12. You’ve got energy to spare—this time is like an internal spring. Hormones are rising and there’s newness in the body, so this is a great time to connect with that increase in energy with regular exercise. For this phase, Alexia recommends Cardio Burn classes. 

“It is a time where, if you want to move with friends, it’s great, if you want to try something new… maybe that’s a great time to try it,” Alexia says. 

Since Phase and Function is designed to mimic every facet of your life, Alexia recommends using the energy in the follicular phase to focus not just on fitness goals, but on career and relationship goals, too. For Maeve, that’s what makes the program so unique.

“It’s not just about the workout, it’s about your entire life, and overall health and wellness,” Maeve says.

The Ovulatory Phase

Ovulation is when the ovaries release an egg to be fertilized. It lasts one day, but for Phase and Function, it’s treated as about a week-long phase, around days 13 to 16. All sorts of processes are happening in the body in preparation for releasing an egg. There’s a spike in testosterone, and this can make you feel like grabbing life by the balls—or in this case, by the ovaries.

That’s why Pvolve introduced Cardio Burn circuits. Think: a condensed Cardio Burn class, using the framing of functional movement, that’s low-impact and super high-intensity exercise. Since every body is different, there are other options for the ovulatory phase, like more intense Strength & Sculpt classes

The Luteal Phase

As the body gears up to shed the uterine lining again, it moves into the luteal phase, which lasts from approximately day 17 to 28. Think of this as your internal autumn, with a rise in estrogen and progesterone. You’ll want to be aware of inflammatory responses in this phase as you are exercising and get into potential PMS territory.

From a movement perspective, you can stay with the Cardio Burn and Strength & Sculpt classes, and use Recover & Stretch as inflammation flares up. The way you move can have a direct impact on inflammation, so the goal is to not encourage any more than there already is with heightened stress or spikes in cortisol. 

“Know that this is a process and this takes time,” says Alexia. “You’re not going to know you’re entire cycle in a day, it’s just about building awareness.

A menstrual cycle workout program for better energy

For more on how to work with your menstrual cycle to optimize your fitness goals and overall wellbeing, check out the Phase & Function menstrual phase-syncing workout program. You’ll receive a personalized plan with phase-specific workouts, meal plans and mindset shifts that work with each phase of your cycle.
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