How to exercise in sync with each phase of your menstrual cycle



The amount of changes that go on in your body in a month can be overwhelming in and of itself, let alone understanding how to move your body alongside it.  Based on the little we know about the female cycle’s impact on training and performance (only 4-6% of sports science research is done exclusively on women mind blowing we know!), it can be hard to figure out what exactly your daily exercise should look like.  However, with the help of Wild.AI - the app that helps women use their hormones to train, eat and recover better- let’s break down what we DO know about the effects  hormones have on our bodies and make your search a little easier. 

In previous articles published on Unfabled we uncovered what effect the phases of the menstrual cycle have on training and nutrition.  We also briefly talked about what to expect if you are experiencing perimenopause.  But those explanations don’t mean much if you’re struggling to figure out how to apply that to your own lifestyle!  So in this article, we’re going to  break it down together! 

A General Overview of our Menstrual Cycle 

The menstrual cycle is broadly split into two phases: the follicular and the luteal phase, separated by ovulation.  We further divide these into four subphases: the early follicular, the mid follicular, the mid luteal, and the late luteal.  Each of the four phases are characterized by their relative concentrations of the infamous female sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone.  These hormones are our besties when we are thinking about how best to move our bodies at a particular time of the month.  

Early Follicular Phase

This is the phase we all know, and (try to) love– our period!  

As you can imagine, there is a lot going on in and around our uterus that encourages us to tear down the home we worked so hard to make during the last cycle.  This phase is often accompanied by painful cramps, headaches, and a slew of other unpleasant symptoms.  However, despite feeling less than awesome, this phase is actually well suited for exercise.  

Doing some sort of movement can mediate the negative symptoms that we experience during this phase (1).  Also, because of a higher reliance on carbohydrates during this phase, it’s actually well suited for higher intensity exercises (2).  

Actually moving your body during this time is easier said than done.  Check in with yourself and see what it is that will make you feel most comfortable. 

Mid Follicular Phase 

After tearing down the uterus house during our period, this is the time where we start to rebuild.    Estrogen begins to rise, while progesterone remains low.  

Estrogen is the bestie that likes to build you up.  By encouraging your muscles to use carbs as their energy source, and demanding that your brain input more to the muscle, estrogen really helps in maximizing your strength training sessions (3,4). 


Estrogen peaks just before ovulation, essentially because she is encouraging the release of the egg from your ovaries.  Because of the higher estrogen just before ovulation, this might be another opportunity to lift heavy! 

Mid Luteal Phase

Just after ovulation, estrogen falls, and your other friend progesterone begins to rise.  To a lesser magnitude, but at the same time, estrogen makes an appearance once again.  Because of how estrogen encourages usage of fat as fuel, this may be the time to do some endurance activities (5).  

Late Luteal Phase 

This is what most of us know as PMS.  This is when the inflammation that continues into our period begins.  Lowering estrogen and progesterone levels lead to a lot of symptoms that might encourage lower intensity exercises. 

Putting it all together

Alright, so now that we have gone through what each phase looks like hormone and symptom wise, let’s put it together in an example.  Let’s pretend that we are a 30-year-old woman with a regular menstrual cycle who is training for a marathon (early days).  During her period, this person has severe cramps and can only manage doing a quick session of yoga for the first two days.  No prob–that fits in!  During the second half of her period, the cramps subside, and she feels a little more like doing some sprints on the track and some higher reps, lower weight lifting sessions– perfect! 

During her mid luteal phase, into ovulation, she transitions to heavier lifting (lower reps, higher weight) sessions, and her runs are probably going to get a bit longer.  As she reaches her mid-follicular phase, she’s going to start to focus more on her longer runs, and her strength training is probably going to return to higher reps, lower weight.  Lastly, as she reaches her late follicular phase, and her PMS starts to set in, her workouts are probably going to be more centered around mindful movement–think yoga and meditation.  

This is just an example, and your programming is probably going to be different, but we hope this example made things a little easier! 


During midlife (think 40s-50s) women start experiencing declining estrogen levels that lead to a variety of symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, etc.  Eventually, the ovaries cease from producing estrogen altogether, what we refer to as menopause. Also during this time there is continuously declining progesterone.  

Lower estrogen levels have been associated with lowering bone density and cardiovascular diseases that are the target for many exercise programs (6).  Exercises during this time of life should be focused on strength training (to limit bone density loss), aerobic exercise (to counteract cardiovascular risks), and balance (to help prevent falls that could happen in later life) (7). 

However you choose to move your body, Wild.AI has got your back with personalized recommendations based on your cycle phase, your individual symptoms each day and input from your wearables.  More than that, you can get expertly created coach plans to reach your personal goals!  So get moving, and get Wild! 

This post is a guest contribution from our friends at Wild.AI. Wild.AI is an app helps you reach your peak athletic performance by helping you understand how to work with your physiology, not against it. Day by day, training after training, Wild.AI curates your individual pattern of symptoms to understand what it means for your training, and helps inform your decisions with recommendations to reach peak performance. Wild.AI currently supports individuals with naturally recurring cycles, on birth control, in perimenopause or postmenopause.


  1. Ortiz, Mario I., et al. “Effect of a Physiotherapy Program in Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea.” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, vol. 194, 2015, pp. 24–29,
  2. Hackney, Anthony C. “Menstrual Cycle Hormonal Changes and Energy Substrate Metabolism in Exercising Women: A Perspective.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 19, Sept. 2021, p. 10024,
  3. Wikström-Frisén, Lisbeth, et al. “Effects on Power, Strength and Lean Body Mass of Menstrual/Oral Contraceptive Cycle Based Resistance Training.” The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, vol. 57, no. 1–2, 2017,
  4. Oosthuyse, Tanja, and Andrew N. Bosch. “The Effect of the Menstrual Cycle on Exercise Metabolism: Implications for Exercise Performance in Eumenorrhoeic Women.” Sports Medicine, vol. 40, no. 3, 2010, pp. 207–27,
  5. Helm, Macy M., et al. “Impact of Nutrition-Based Interventions on Athletic Performance during Menstrual Cycle Phases: A Review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 12, June 2021, p. 6294,
  6. “Want to Get Fit after Menopause? Here’s How.” Mayo Clinic, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023. Mishra, Nalini, et al. “Exercise beyond Menopause: Dos and Don’ts.” Journal of Mid-Life Health, vol. 2, no. 2, 2011, pp. 51–56,

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