If you lose motivation to hit the gym when you’re on your period, you’re not alone. The vast majority of us feel sick, slow and sluggish when *that time of the month* rolls around, but exercise can actually ease PMS and period discomfort. Nonetheless, many women may choose to take a break from their usual fitness regime while in the menstrual phase of their cycle.
But, if you’re here, it probably means you’re looking for ways to power through your period and hit the gym, no matter what. Awesome! Here are our top tips for training on your period.
Exercises to do on your period
The days leading up to your period, and the first few days of it, are usually the most uncomfortable. During this time, your body is working super hard and your hormones are a little out of whack. We suggest modifying your usual workout to make it a bit lighter and gentler. Reducing the intensity will still allow you to get a good workout without adding unnecessary stress to your body.
Consider light cardio like gentle walking, Reformer Pilates, or shorter bouts of aerobic exercise — for those first days at least. Take your time and don’t try to break a sweat. A medical article published in PubMed shares how your lungs work more efficiently later in your cycle. So, as you near the end of your period, you can start to ramp things up.
Low-volume strength training.
Opting for low-volume strength training and power-based activities instead of your usual routine is a safe move. This should not be a stressful workout and it’s not the best time to go for a PB. Instead, choose some lighter weights and avoid heavy lifting.
Yoga, Pilates & stretching.
Yoga, Pilates, and general light stretching are super popular period workouts. These help relax the body and can reduce symptoms like cramping, breast and uterine tenderness, as well as muscular fatigue.
Other period-training tips.
Let your PT know.
If you have a Personal Trainer, let them know you’re expecting your period soon — or that you’ve already got it. They’ll know how to adjust your workout to accommodate your symptoms and general weariness. Being a women’s-only gym, our Sista Fitness Personal Trainers are super open and casual about this topic. If you’re a member with us, definitely let your trainer know!
Listen to your body.
Like we said before, now isn’t the time to push yourself — it’s time to go with the flow (pun intended). If you feel sick, nauseous, unusually fatigued, or like you’re not performing as well as you usually do, take a break. After a rest, reduce the intensity and try again — if you feel up to it. If symptoms persist, call it a day, get a good night’s rest, and try again tomorrow.
Many people prepare for their gym sesh by staying extra hydrated and taking painkillers such as Panadol or Nurofen before a workout. Since your goal is a light workout and not to work up a sweat, you might also find an adhesive heat pack comfortable (but of course, if it starts making you overheat, remove it).
Benefits to exercising on your period.
You’ve probably heard that working out on your period has its own health benefits (aside from the obvious benefits of keeping fit). It’s true! Exercise can increase the production of endorphins (“feel-good hormones”) and reduce anxiety, depression, and pain, improving your mood. Light exercise during this time can also help alleviate cramps, bloating, fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
The most difficult part of working out on your period is getting to the gym in the first place. Once you get started, you should start feeling the benefits pretty quickly. This is because one of the main benefits of exercise while on your period is the endorphin release and workout “high.” These endorphins are a natural painkiller that will provide natural relief from uncomfortable periods.
Join a women’s only gym.
We know how much working out on your period sucks. Thankfully, we’ve got an awesome all-female community who are all in the same boat. We’re here to support you, no matter what your fitness journey looks like! To find out what it’s like to be a part of a Sista Fitness gym, take a look out our memberships.