Have you ever noticed that, during certain days each month, you have the stamina and endurance to easily run that 10k? While, at other times, you can barely manage to walk 2 miles on the treadmill? There’s actually scientific reasons for these energy swings and, with the right knowledge, you can start exercise cycling to get the most out of your workouts.
Exercise cycling is something fairly new to the fitness world. At least, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I first started to pay attention to my energy levels each month and realize that they ebbed and flowed in conjunction with my natural cycle.
Before this realization, I planned out the same workouts every week and got frustrated because some weeks I just could NOT complete them! It led to guilt, and feelings of failure, as I watched other women push through a hard routine at the gym.
Why Your Energy Levels Fluctuate
It’s totally normal to have fluctuating energy levels each month. It’s actually due to your monthly hormonal fluctuations. When you pay attention to your energy levels and where you are in your cycle, you can actually start to create a workout program that maximizes your fitness goals.
The typical energy fluctuation looks like this:
- Days 1 – 6 (menstrual phase) give you the lowest levels of energy each month. Energy will usually be very low on days 1-2 and slowly start to increase towards to the end of your period.
- Days 7 – 10 (follicular phase) will be quite noticeably more energetic and you might feel like doing something fun and new at the gym.
- Days 11 – 13 (ovulation phase) are when your energy is at its highest so go all out with your exercise.
- Day 14 – 28 (luteal phase) will start out energetic but become less so the closer to your period you get.
Your energy cycles may not quite follow this pattern exactly, but you can use this information as a start. Then note your own energy throughout the month so that you can start exercise cycling for maximum benefits.
How to Approach Exercise Cycling
Now that you know roughly where your energy will be each day of the month, you can start to cycle your exercise.
When energy is high, plan for high intensity workouts or long-distance cardio sessions. Fit in as many as your energy allows for during this time, but always take time for recovery too!
As energy starts to drop off, switch to resistance and strength training. The latter part of your luteal phase is an excellent time to perform heavy weight lifting to build strong muscles.
And, when energy drops around your period, take a few extra recovery days. Do some light exercises like yoga or long walks. This is when it’s important to listen to your body and practice the energy conservation activities of exercise cycling. And, don’t feel guilty if you can’t keep up to your neighbor at the gym!
Why Exercise Cycling is Important
When you don’t listen to your body’s energy levels, you risk the effects of chronic stress. Chronic stress can actually make you fat, which basically means all your hard work can backfire on you!
Low energy and fatigue elevate your cortisol levels. Add intense exercise into this mix and you risk elevating that cortisol to the point where it places your body in a state of danger. Cortisol mobilizes blood sugar for quick energy, which impacts insulin and promotes fat storage, especially around the belly.
And, not practicing exercise cycling according to your energy levels increases inflammation. Inflammation promotes disease, poor sleep and imbalances hormones.
Exercise cycling is very important for your overall physical and mental health. And, tracking your energy levels so that you can start exercise cycling is very easy to do. A key factor in weight loss is to prevent inflammation and chronically elevated cortisol. And monthly exercise cycling helps with this!