Last updated: 22 August 2022
6 min read

Adapt your training to your cycle with NikeSync

Harness The Power Of Your Menstrual Cycle

Why Sync Your Training To Your Cycle?

Ever wonder why you feel pumped for a HIIT session one week, but just want to chill in savasana the next? The fluctuating hormones of your menstrual cycle could have something to do with it.

Understanding your body and adapting your training to your cycle could help you manage stress, boost immunity and improve your performance. Leaving you feeling fitter, stronger and simply better.

Women are not small men, so we shouldn't train like them.”

Dr. Stacy Sims

PhD, Global Expert on Female Athlete Physiology

With the help of Stacy Sims, we’ve created NikeSync, a new workout collection for people with periods helping you train to the key phases of your menstrual cycle. So take Day 1 of your period as the kick-off point to start syncing your training to your cycle and get the best out of your workouts.

Syncing Training and Cycle

The Four Phases of your Menstrual Cycle

The fact that your menstrual cycle has phases might be news to you. Or you may have heard it has two, three, four, or even five phases. So, let’s clear up the confusion. Truth is, you can break down the menstrual cycle into many phases. For training purposes, we’re focusing on the four phases when big hormonal changes happen in your body: the Menstrual Phase, the Follicular Phase, the Early Luteal and the Late Luteal Phase.

While every body is different and menstrual cycle lengths can vary, current research can help us better understanding our physiology, getting curious about our own unique hormonal patterns and factoring in how they can affect our fitness. So let’s get started!

Syncing Training and Cycle

Menstrual Phase: Strength & Kindness

(Day 1 of your period to Day 7 +/-)

The way that our bodies react to the bleed stage of our cycle is incredibly nuanced and varied. So listen to your body now more than ever. If you feel as though you can benefit from the power surge of low hormones, then push yourself. But you might also need to ease into full-power-mode as you menstruate, in the meantime you can help any period-related symptoms you might be experiencing through light exercise. They can help encourage an anti-inflammatory response, helping to ease any discomfort. Be sure to allow for period-related symptoms to recede before pushing your body to those high intensities.

Training: Your hormones are at their lowest, so you should be primed for high intensity training such as HIIT workouts, sprints of heavy weight training. But if you’re experiencing discomfort during your menstrual bleeding, be kind to yourself and rely on gentle yoga. This will soothe menstrual pain and release endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever. It will also improve circulation throughout the body.

Nutrition: Annoying period-related symptoms? Turmeric, dark chocolate, avocado and nuts will tackle the inflammation and muscle contraction that causes bad cramping or bloating.

Syncing Training and Cycle

Follicular Phase: Speed & Power

(Days 7 to 14 +/-)

While your hormones are still low, you should be primed to run faster, recover better and feel more energetic. Estrogen levels are also rising throughout this phase all the way to ovulation which can provide additional strength and endurance. It may also bring mental clarity and focus. It’s a good time to push for a PB and maximize on elevated energy. It’s also a great time to try and learn something new.

Training: Your athletic advantage means you can hit it hard and go for 100% effort with HIIT workouts, sprints or heavy weight training. Estrogen has been associated with positive effects on memory and focus, so this can also be a great time for your body to develop new skills and power up your training routines.

Nutrition: If you’re using this time to push for a new PB, prioritize eating protein for muscle repair and good fats such as avocado & nuts for metabolic support. Also consider complex carbs like whole grains and legumes to support energy release.

Syncing Training and Cycle

Early Luteal Phase: Aerobic & Endurance (Days 14 to 21+/-)

Whilst the big estrogen drop after ovulation can leave you feeling a bit ‘meh.’ You should begin the early luteal phase with dropping load to lighter, endurance type weights, and focus on aerobic training.

Training: The emphasis in this phase is on moderate intensity, steady state aerobic or longer endurance training. Focus on resistance. So, a tempo run or longer hill repeats if you are running, using moderate loads if you are resistance training. Then taper your training as you approach the late luteal phase ­— lower-intensity and shorter workouts will be your friend.

Nutrition: Eating more carbs, especially pre-workout, will fuel your endurance. Whole grains, bananas, dried fruit and sweet potatoes are full of the good energy you need.

Syncing Training and Cycle

Late Luteal Phase: Mobility & Recovery (Days 21 to 28 +/-)

As progesterone hormone rises in your body, your energy dips naturally and those PMS symptoms start to show up in the lead up to your next period. This is the perfect opportunity to be kind to yourself with restorative practices, nutritious meals and good sleep.

Training: Now's the time for mobility and recovery. Light activities and low loads. Focus on flexibility and technique, working on your form. Take this time to meditate, practicing slow yoga and Pilates. Maybe light running drills or long walks. And of course, keep reading to learn more about the impact of your menstrual cycle.

Nutrition: Embrace the cravings caused by the higher progesterone levels with foods naturally higher in sugar. Try Greek yogurt with dried fruit and honey. Mmmm…

Get To Know Your Cycle

Every body and every cycle is different so use the research as a guide and listen to your unique hormonal patterns to be completely in tune with your physiology. Knowledge is power, and once you better understand yourself, you will be able to adapt your training to your cycle and get the best out of your workouts and more. To help you get started, we created the NikeSync training program on Nike Training Club and the Menstrual Cycle Audio Guided Run on Nike Running Club. So whether you prefer to hit the mat or hit the road, we’ve got you covered to help you start your journey.

NAQ’s: Never Asked Questions

Welcome to NAQs, the series where we answer your Never Asked Questions on the menstrual cycle. Explore the series to get to know your hormones, why they exist, how to track them and how you can tap into them to feel like the best version of yourself.

Originally published: 1 April 2022