The Best Workouts Before, During, and After Your Period – Glamour Magazine, March 2014.

There are days when we approach workouts like champs—nothing can keep us down! And then…well, then there are the days when we’d rather just curl up with a bag of cheese puffs and/or a pint of ice cream. Yay, hormones!

Rob Kominiarek, D.O., FACOFP, an Ohio physician specializing in fitness and hormones, says that a recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that our muscle stretch reflex decreases just before we ovulate. What that means: Our monthly hormonal shifts influence our fitness. But there are ways to avoid injury and get the most out of our workouts. Take a look:

Week 1: Your period. Kominiarek says that follicle-stimulating hormones slightly rise, prompting your ovaries to start preparing an egg. “Meanwhile, levels of other hormones (including luteinizing hormone and progesterone) stay flat. Your estrogen levels are lowest at this time, cuing your body to burn carbohydrates in place of fat for much-needed energy,” he says.
Your best fitness move: “Your body is burning mostly high-octane fuel. Despite of fatigue and muscle soreness, fast workouts are ideal and may feel easier on these days,” he says. “This is the time to train and make gains in your fitness regimen.” In other words: Don’t let your period get the best of you. Head for a challenging spin class, interval training, or a high-energy cardio class.

Week 2: 14-day (give or take!) of ovulation. “Right now, your estrogen levels are surging while the egg travels down to the fallopian tube,” he says. “High estrogen levels have been linked to more pliable hamstring muscles and may influence knee injuries.”
Your best fitness move: Pay attention to your body, Kominiarek says. If an exercise gives you pain in your knees, skip it. Make sure to start with a warm-up to loosen your muscles and joints, like slight squats or lunges.

Weeks 3 and 4: luteal phase. During this time, your progesterone levels rise as estrogen levels fall.
Best fitness move: “The hormonal stew may cause you to feel sluggish, especially during high-intensity workouts, since your body turns to fat as a fuel source rather than carbohydrates,” he says. “Most women experience difficulty with motivation for following nutrition and fitness regimens. Always schedule yourself for workouts and plan meals to maintain motivation. Eat healthy carbs to fuel your body—sweet potatoes are ideal! This will also help banish cravings.”

Have you noticed that any particular workouts are better during certain times of the month? When do you feel strongest?


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