Last updated: 11 June 2024
8 min read

Training To Your Menstrual Cycle At Every Life Stage

Welcome to Never Asked Questions, where we answer the questions you've always wanted to know about training to your menstrual cycle.

Let's unpack how different life stages affect if you can or can't train to your menstrual cycle, from puberty to pregnancy:

1) Can I Train To My Menstrual Cycle If...?

2) Hormonal Contraceptives & Training

3) How Can I Support My Daughter Through Puberty?

1. Can I Train To My Menstrual Cycle If...?

Generally, if you have a menstrual cycle, you can learn how to sync your training to its hormonal patterns. Scroll down the list and if you don’t recognise yourself, just let us know in the comments.

Training and Your Menstrual Cycle. NAQs

Can I Train To My Menstrual Cycle If Pregnant?

When pregnant, your hormones are no longer following the same cycle they always have, instead they’re in a brand new nine-month cycle. Those all-important hormones –estrogen and progesterone –rise constantly throughout your pregnancy, so training to your menstrual cycle won’t apply to you. Instead, you’ll be adapting your training according to your trimester. There are so many myths and opinions, it can be difficult to know what movements are safe to do when you’re pregnant. But every pregnancy is different, even for the same woman, so it’s about listening to your body, as it will tell you what it can and can’t do. We’ve got you covered at every stage of your pregnancy with our Guided Runs. Check them out in the Nike Run Club app.

To train in sync with your menstrual cycle, download the Nike Training Club App and head to the NikeSync workout collection.

Can I Train To My Menstrual Cycle If I Have Endometriosis or PCOS?

Endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) have been misdiagnosed for decades. But women are slowly getting the help they need with the pain, heavy bleeding and irregular periods that come with it. Side note: If these symptoms sound familiar to you, press pause on running down the self-diagnosis rabbit hole —you’ll need to speak to a doctor for a true diagnosis. Heavy or irregular periods (or no periods at all) can be a sign of several things and it’s always best to chat it through with your GP.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Endo, you might find that exercise can improve your symptoms as working out can help the body’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ability. It can also boost your mood. And seeing as there’s evidence that suffering with Endo can increase levels of depression and anxiety, feeling mentally lifted is just as important as feeling physically better.

The best way to start training to your cycle is to track how you feel when you train for two or three months, taking note of how your body responds when you push it hard. Then you’ll know when your body’s more able to reach high intensities and which are the taking-it-easy days.

Can I Train to My Menstrual Cycle If I’m Menopausal?

It all depends on if you’re perimenopausal (your body’s still ovulating but is starting to show signs that your ovaries are producing less estrogen) or post-menopausal (your body has stopped ovulating and you no longer have estrogen or progesterone). If you’re perimenopausal, you’ll still be having periods, but they might be getting more irregular, and your bleeding pattern may have started to change. But you can still track your cycle and respond accordingly. If you’re having a longer cycle then you’ll be in the low hormone (Follicular) phase for longer, giving you more opportunities to hit high intensities and heavy resistance work.

If you are post-menopausal (the stage after your periods have stopped for 12 months), syncing your training to your cycle won’t apply to you as your body is no longer producing the high levels of fluctuating hormones. Although, you can still track how you’re feeling and performing as you train. This will give you an insight into how your body’s responding and whether you need a few more days of low intensity between big workouts. But one thing’s for sure, up your recovery time after big workouts, as muscles change with menopause, affecting their ability to recover as quickly.

Can I Train to My Menstrual Cycle If I’m Not a Pro Athlete?

100% YES. If you have a period, you may reap all the benefits of training to your menstrual cycle.

Training and Your Menstrual Cycle. NAQs

2. Can I Train To My Menstrual Cycle If I’m On Hormonal Contraceptives?

Hormonal contraceptives are a tricky one because by their name and nature, they work by tweaking your natural hormone levels. Come with us as we explain this mighty NAQ and hopefully help you understand what’s going on down there.

Day 1 of your pill pack to Day 5 +/-

Your ‘Day One’ is the first day of your pill pack. The first 5 days is just like the Early Phase as your hormones are low, meaning you can train hard. So up your weights, go for fast runs, or attend a HIIT class.

Days 6 to 22 +/-

When you getto the second week of your pill pack, your hormones are building up, so your recovery slows down, meaning you need a bit more recovery between hard workouts to reap the benefits. This gives you around 2.5 weeks of being in the beginning of the Luteal Phase. Sounds confusing, but we just mean that your hormones aren’t at their highest yet, so you can still focus on moderate intensity and aerobic workouts like a steady run. But you might notice your energy levels are slowing down, so start to take it a little easier and give yourself plenty of recovery time.

Days 23 to 28 +/-

Did you know that the last week of pills are called sugar pills because they don’t contain any hormones? But because your hormones are at their highest level at the beginning of this week, this should be your deload phase. Really focus on recovery; go for walks, meditate, hit the yoga mat. But as the hormones from the active pills are cleared from your system throughout the week, you’ll notice your body feeling primed to go full circle, as you enter back into that Early Phase, just in time for a new pill packet.

Training and Your Menstrual Cycle. NAQs

3. How Can I Support My Daughter Through Puberty?

Periods Aren’t Full Stops

Did you know that girls start dropping out of sport at twice the speed of boys by the time they hit 14-years-old? That’s around the age when they start having their period. Coincidence? Or maybe not.

Those teenage years can be tough but knowing that sports can have such a positive impact on lives, how can we help girls stay active? We can start by having open conversations with young girls before they start puberty. Yes, talking periods with your kids can make everyone feel awkward, which is why we’ve created the below periods 101 guide to help you break

the ice with the tweens and teens in your life and break period taboos —so they can feel more confident and stay in sport.

1. Start Conversations Early

It’s way better to talk about puberty before her period starts, as this helps break taboos around periods and change attitudes towards menstruation. We can start by calling our body parts by their real names —maybe drop “lady bits” and just say “vagina” and “vulva?”. Then girls will learn to feel empowered by their bodies, and periods and puberty will become normalized. Remind your daughter that she’s not alone, tell her about your own experiences with puberty, have a laugh, it can help with her self-confidence and feelings towards her body.

2. Work up a Sweat Together

Fact: Kids with parents who are physically active are more likely to pickup sport. Yep, by starting movement early, and together, you’ll behelping her develop a good relationship with sport and her body. Andthrough proving that there’s no need to stop exercising whenyou get your period can help normalize her own periods.

3.Teach Her About Sanitary Wear

Pads, tampons, period-proof pants, menstrual cups... It can all be a bitoverwhelming when you’re a tween or teen. Helping her choose whatsanitary wear is right for her and how to use them before she starts herperiod means she’ll feel supported and comfortable with the products.And make periods seem less taboo —especially if she starts hersbefore her classmates.

4. Encourage Her to Play Sport to Ease Period Pain

Remember skipping sport because you were on your period? Butpremenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms can be a reason for girls toskip sport. Physical activity can actually help ease cramps though,thanks to the mood-boosting hormones known as endorphins whichact as a natural pain reliever, as well as improving circulation in thebody. Girls just need the right education and encouragement to getmoving.

5. Prepare Her for PE

Sports on your period can be a big cause of anxiety when you’reyoung. Helping her plan ahead and pack essentials like sanitary wear,deodorant, the right sports bra and spare pants, and discussing theimportance of changing sanitary products before and after exercisemay boost her confidence.

6. Tracking Her Menstrual Cycle

We need to help girls know that just because her period has starteddoesn’t mean she needs to drop out of sport.Helping her to understand how the menstrual cycle works and how tosync her training to it could help her feel more in control. Suggestingshe tracks her emotional state of being and physical changesthroughout her menstrual cycle may improve her relationship with hermind and body and also reassure her that everything she’sexperiencing is completely normal.

And that wraps up our NAQ series on menstrual cycles. If you missed last week’s NAQ about swimming with confidence on your period, you can check it out along with all the previous NAQs at the link below. And head to NikeSync in the Nike Training Club App if you want a workout to suit where you’re at in your menstrual cycle.

Originally published: 11 June 2024