Should I Sync My Workouts to My Menstrual Cycle?

Cycle syncing can help you ease your period pain, get in touch with your body and optimize your athletic performance.

 If you tend to feel a little bit sluggish and depressed when you’re on your period then you’re not alone. The low levels of hormones like estrogen in your body can lead to low energy levels and the last thing you want to do is exercise. But according to the practice of cycle syncing, that’s totally natural and okay - tune into your body and it will tell you what is best. While a little bit of light exercise can help alleviate cramps and pain, there’s no need to push yourself past your limits when you are menstruating.

So What Exactly is Cycle Syncing?

Berrion Berry, a menstrual health expert and founder of Optimize Your Flo, refers to cycle syncing “a blueprint” for how to live your life. During the phases of the menstrual cycle, levels of hormones in the brain and body will fluctuate. Cycle syncing is the practice of aligning with these hormones to shift what you eat and how hard you work out. Many people practice cycle syncing either as a way to get in touch with their bodies, or optimize their athletic performance. Berry says that adjusting your training regimen according to your menstrual cycle can result in better speed, agility and overall performance. She also says that many of her clients report a drop in cramping and period pain once they start following the cycle syncing process. 

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As a refresher, here are the four phases of the menstrual cycle:

Phase 1: The Follicular Phase

Phase 2: The Ovulation Phase

Phase 3: The Luteal Phase

Phase 4: The Menses Phase

How to Optimize Your Workouts, According to Your Cycle

Phase 1: Follicular 

During the follicular phase, the body’s hormones are gearing up for ovulation, so Berry says that it’s a good idea to rev up the intensity of your workout. Once you finish your period and the follicular phase begins, you will likely experience a burst of energy, giving you the drive to start amping your life up. It’s when you begin to get your life back, so to speak, if you’re a person who loses sight of who they are during their period. The follicular phase provides a surge of energy that can help bring your goals to life.

Workout Suggestions for Follicular Phase

-medium-to high intensity workouts






Nutrition for Follicular Phase

-protein (e.g. beef, poultry, fish, eggs)


-pumpkin seeds




-green beans

-sweet potato


teen playing basketball in activewear shorts

Phase 2: Ovulation

During ovulation, your hormones begin to surge and there are increased levels of estrogen, testosterone and luteinizing hormone swimming around in your system. As a result, you might feel like you’re ready to take on the world. Ovulation is when you can go hard, test your limits and work out according to your maximum capacity. Berry calls the ovulation phase the “Diana Ross moment, as in, I’m coming out I want the world to know,” she laughs. Use this precious time to step into your strength and power and become the best version of yourself. “If you want to climb Mount Everest, then you go climb that mountain,” Berry says. 

Workout Suggestions for Ovulation Phase

-high intensity workouts

-HIIT training



-Jump rope

Nutrition Suggestions for Ovulation Phase

-protein (e.g. beef, fish, eggs)

-all greens



-bell peppers







 Phase 3: Luteal

While you may experience the same powerhouse energy at the beginning of the luteal phase that you do during ovulation, this is when hormone levels begin to drop and energy levels go along with it. Berry’s motto during the luteal phase is, “Do less, God bless.” It’s a good time to relax and recharge, quiet down the intensity of your workouts and not push your body to achieve the same things you could during ovulation. Because your energy levels are lower during this phase, your workouts should mirror that shift. 

Workout Suggestions for Luteal Phase

-medium-to-low intensity workouts



-light jogging


Nutrition for Luteal Phase

-Bone broth or veggie broth


-Swiss chard



-sweet potato

-black beans




teen playing basketball in leakproof shorts

Phase 4: Menses

Menstruation, the week when you’re actually bleeding, is what Berry calls the “rest and digest” phase. She suggests your period is a good time for reflection: to get in touch with your emotions and try to figure out what is going on in your life. Because energy levels are lowest during menstruation, give yourself permission to slow down and relax. Indulge in your favorite foods and leave the bench press for another day if you’re not feeling up to it. Berry also suggests that menstruation is a great time  to write down your goals. Research has shown that there is 25% more connectivity between the right and left hemispheres of your brain during the menses phase, so it’s a good time to dream big.

Workout Suggestions for Menses Phase

-low intensity workouts




Nutrition for Menses Phase

-protein (e.g. beef, poultry, fish, eggs)






-kidney beans

-chick peas




Once you familiarize yourself with the phases, they become what Berry calls a “permission slip” to shift your relationship with your body and mind into a more generous, forgiving state. 

How Does Hormonal Birth Control Affect Cycle Syncing?

If you take a hormonal birth control pill or have a hormonal IUD, it may affect your ability to do cycle syncing, Berry says. That is because ingesting hormones counteracts the natural fluctuation of the hormones in the body, preventing a true menstrual cycle from occurring. The period you experience on hormonal birth control is technically withdrawal bleeding, and not necessarily a menstrual period. Cycle syncing may not work as well if you take hormonal birth control, however, anyone is welcome to follow along with the two weeks of light exercise and two weeks of intense exercise method.

cooling down after practice in leakproof shorts

How To Tell Which Phase of the Menstrual Cycle You Are In

When you’re bleeding, it’s obvious that you’re in the menses phase. But if you’re in an in-between period, it might be harder to tell exactly which phase your body is currently experiencing. If you’re unable to tell based on your energy levels, Berry recommends checking your cervix placement by inserting a finger in your vagina and feeling for the cervix. If the cervix feels hard, like the tip of your nose then it likely means you’re in the follicular or luteal phase. But if it feels softer, like the Cupid’s Bow of your lip, then it means you’re ovulating. If you’re not comfortable with an internal check, Berry says you can monitor your vaginal discharge for clues. If you’re ovulating, then your discharge will resemble “raw egg whites,” Berry says.

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