Follow the Rhythm of Your Monthly Cycle and Optimize Your Training
Did you know that as females, we run on two different biological clocks? We have a circadian rhythm that runs on a 24-hour cycle and the infradian rhythm that runs on a 28-day cycle. Everyone has a circadian rhythm. It runs many physiological processes such as a cortisol spike in the morning to wake you up and melatonin in the evening to lead you into sleep. It regulates digestion, body temperature, metabolism, sleep, elimination, and more. Your circadian clock is relatively the same day in and day out. From puberty until menopause, females have a second clock that is not often talked about but has tremendous effects on our energy levels, workflow, and you guessed it – our exercise tolerance. So here is everything you didn’t know you needed to know about your infradian clock so you can work smarter, not harder and train like a girl.
The infradian rhythm aligns with your menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle has four phases – follicular, ovulatory, luteal, and menstrual. Hormones fluctuate in each phase. Disruption of this clock can affect your physical health and lead to a range of problems from poor skin health, gut health, low energy, mental health changes, etc. The first step to training like a girl is to heal any hormonal imbalances to align with your body’s natural monthly rhythm, a topic that deserves more space than this article can provide so please seek out more resources to heal hormone imbalances if this is you.
The follicular phase begins right after your bleed ends, lasting for 7-10 days. All hormones are low and begin to increase in concentration. It’s the phase to prepare and begin again. The ovulatory phase (3-4 days) happens with a stark rise in estrogen and luteinizing hormone to stimulate follicule maturity and egg release. Testosterone rises as well. This is a time to socialize, try new things, and open up. Next is the luteal phase. Lasting 10-14 days, this is where estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone reach their peak concentration and then begin to fall to their lowest levels, right before bleeding begins. PMS is a common (but not necessary) symptom in this phase. It’s a natural time to complete tasks, draw inward, and organize your space. Lastly, the menstrual phase lasts 3-7 days and is categorized by the bleed as the uterus sheds the endometrial lining. Hormones fall to their lowest concentrations. It’s a great phase to rest and reflect. Now that you are familiar with your female biology, let’s see how you can use it to your advantage when training.
- Follicular phase: energy is rising after a time of rest. You are naturally open to new things so shake it up with a new instructor on LYT PRIME.
- Ovulatory phase: Estrogen and testosterone are peaking meaning you have energy to burn. Turn your training up a notch with more advanced classes or LYT HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training).
- Luteal phase: In the first 5 days, energy will still be high as estrogen and testosterone have not declined yet. As progesterone rises, calm the cardio and focus on strength training as your hormone levels are prime for maximizing lean muscle gains. During the second half of the luteal phase, all hormones start to decline which will affect your ability to build muscle. Switch your training to focus on mobility and slow flow classes.
- Menstrual phase: hormones are at their lowest and your energy is low as a result. Avoid high-intensity training and focus on more restorative or stretch classes.
Here is sample chart of how to structure your LYT Daily and LYT PRIME subscriptions to align with your infradian rhythm:
|Follicular Phase||Ovulatory Phase||Luteal Phase||Menstrual Phase|
| Full week of trying
on LYT PRIME
Rather than force yourself to train the same every single day and beat yourself up for not being able to “keep up” like you usually can, try training in a more cyclical nature. When I finally let go of needing to be consistent in that way and instead allowed myself more rest in my late luteal and menstrual phases, I was surprised to find I had more energy, better results, and more mental wellbeing. Train like a girl and embrace your feminine rhythm to unlock your yoga practice in a new way.
Reach out and tell me how it feels! I would love to hear from you.
Thalia Wynne, PT, DPT, AT
Source: In the FLO by Alisa Vitti