Should You Train on Your Period?

The gym may be the last place you can imagine yourself when your period arrives. I get it.

During that time of the month where you’re bloated, in discomfort and generally feeling ‘meh’, anything that involves moving feels 10 times harder.

For some women (the lucky ones) the first few days of the cycle doesn’t effect them. These (super) women are able to go about their day as if nothing is happening. In true female manner we can begin to compare ourselves to these women, suddenly wondering if we ‘should’ be training while “on”. The adverts by sanitary product companies don’t help our confusion either, I know they mean well with the women in the adverts, but it can make us feel like we ‘need’ to be like that.

So should we be training on our period?

There’s been studies on this topic to determine if we should or shouldn’t train when we have our period, the result is that there’s no right or wrong answer: it all depends on the individual.

Let’s have a quick recap of what’s going on in your body during the first few days of your cycle.

Your uterus has identified that with no fertilised egg, the shedding of the lining (period fluid) can begin, leading to a series of rather unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms known as PMS – Premenstrual Syndrome:

  • cramps
  • headaches
  • heavy flow
  • fatigue
  • discomfort
  • mood swings
  • general feeling of ‘meh’
  • desire to stay in pyjamas
  • temptation to eat all the chocolate and ice cream

The severity of symptoms vary from woman to woman, some women can experience mild cramps which can be eased off with an over the counter painkiller whereas other women experience cramps that make it hard to even walk. As such, the decision to train is completely up to the individual.

Contrary to how you may be feeling, there are several benefits that partaking in some sort of movement as opposed to sitting on the sofa can help ease off PMS.

Boost your mood

  • Exercise releases endorphins, which is the ‘feel good’ hormone. If you don’t feel like pushing yourself to doing some high intensity training or setting new PBs that’s fine, even something light such as taking a walk can make you feel so much better than if you were sat on the sofa in a state of self pity.

Blood circulation can ease cramps and pain

  • With movement you’re encouraging your blood to circulate around the body, which eases off cramps and pain you may experience.

*TMI WARNING, Note: if you experience a heavy flow that requires a change of sanitary products frequently you may want to give training a miss as an increase in circulation will only increase this flow, which can be uncomfortable and stressful if you’re out in public.

Reduced inflammation

  • Those endorphins can do more than just improve your mood, they can reduce inflammatory prostaglandins. Prostaglandins is a chemical released from a group of cells that form the lining of the uterus, which during menstruation are broken down. As this chemical is released, it constricts the blood flow in the uterus causing cramps. A little bit of exercise can ease this pain off.

Reduce the bloating

  • If you are feeling a bit puffy and bloated, a sweat out will help reduce this. Don’t forget to drink your fluids throughout, the body requires a lot of water to function so it needs to be reminded that there isn’t a lack of water supply so it doesn’t need to hold onto any extra.

Your body is at a perfect hormone level during your flow

  • Your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at it’s lowest during the first few days of your cycle, which means you’re actually pretty strong during this time. Furthermore, your recovery level is high and you’re less likely to feel pain.

*Training tip – Despite feeling ‘meh’ use this time to work with lower reps and higher weight, you may just set that new PB you’ve been working towards!

*Nutrition tip – as your oestrogen and progesterone levels are low your body is able to use carbohydrates and glycogen effectively, if there’s a time to increase your carbohydrates it’s now!

As mentioned, the choice to train on your period is completely up to you, and there’s no right or wrong answer. My post here is to present the facts and for you to decide yourself. If you feel fine to train, I would recommend it, we’ve seen that your body is actually is a really good state to exercise and there are both psychological and physical benefits if you’re experiencing PMS. On the other end of the spectrum, if you suffer significantly during your period visit then taking a day or two off from the gym won’t affect your progress. Take the rest, enjoy it and return when you’re feeling more yourself.

 

Article written by Claudia Hodgson 

 

Female Personal Trainer

Cable crossover

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Chest Supported Row

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Face Pull

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cable Lateral raise

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Dumbbell Lateral raise

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Dumbbell Shoulder Press

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Single arm row

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Should You Train on Your Period?

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Straight arm pull down

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Pull Ups

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Seated Row

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Rfe split squat

Find yourself in a staggered stance approximately in front of a step which should be no greater than 6” high, place your toes on the step and your front foot should be flat. This would be your start and end position for every repetition.

You’re going to allow your rear knee to move towards the floor, whilst your front knee is moving in a motion forward towards your toes.

When your rear knee is close to touching the ground, pause then push through both legs to reverse the motion to the start position.

*If your front heel comes off the ground during your repetitions, adjust your stance.

Starting with bodyweight is appropriate for many on a RFE, or holding on to a squat stand to aid balance.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

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Lat Pull Down

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Push ups

Starting in a prone position, set your hand just outside shoulder width at a 45 degree angle relative to your torso.

Bring your knees and your hips off the ground, so that your body is in neutral (this is your start and end position for every rep).

Press into the ground until your arms are fully extended, then lower your body in a controlled manner towards the floor.

*Your body should be moving in a synchronised manner.

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Cable Press

Pick the handles and take a seat on your bench, your arms should be in a neutral position.

Extend your arms, so your fist is approximately the same height as your armpit but now rotate so that you’re in a pronated grip (this is your start and end position for every rep).

In a slow controlled manner, you’re going to move your upper arm towards the bench. The upper arm should be in approximately a 45 degree relative to your torso. When you’ve reached a point when your upper arm can move no further, press the handles in the opposite direction of the bench until your arm are fully extended.

*Your bench should be central of the cable station.

*Your handles should be should height

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Cable Fly

Pick the handles and take a seat on your bench, your arms should be in a neutral position.

Extend your arms, so your fist is approximately the same height as your armpit. Your elbow should also be slightly bent (this is your start and end position for every rep).

In a slow controlled manner, you’re going to move your upper arm in a circular movement towards the pulley, before returning to your start/end position.

*Your bench should be central of the cable station.

*Your handles should be shoulder height

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Incline Machine

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Dumbbell Chest Press

Sit on the edge of the bench, feet approximately shoulder-width with the dumbbells resting on your thighs then lie back so that you’re in a supine position on your bench.

Your dumbbells should be above your elbows, whilst your upper arm should be approximately 45 degrees to your torso (this is your start and end position for every rep), palms in the same direction of your feet.

Press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, until your arms are fully extended then lower the dumbbells in a slow controlled manner to your start position.

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Change This to exorcise title

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BarBell Chest Press

Sit on the edge of the bench, feet approximately shoulder-width, lie back so you’re in a supine position. Your eyes should be directly underneath the barbell.

Place your hands on the barbell with an overhand grip, approximately 1.5x shoulder width.

Extend your arms to un rack the bar, slowly set the bar to a position perpendicular of your shoulders (this is your start and end position for every rep).

Lower the barbell in a controlled manner towards your chest, your arms should be approximately 45 degrees to your torso. When you’ve reached a point when the barbell can get no lower press the barbell towards the ceiling, until your arms fully extended.

*If you’re training in a facility where you can set the hooks to your preferred height, choose a height in which when you’re un-racking the bar you’re not protracting/over extending to remove the bar.

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Can you spare us 2 minutes for some market research? If so we would like to offer you a weeks free training at the end

Y Raise

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Leg Extension

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Cable Extension

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Ham curl

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DUMBBELL TRICEP EXTENSION

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Reverse Curl

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Zotttman Curl

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Hammer Curl

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Cable Curl

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Preacher Curl

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Spider curl

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Seated DB curl

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Step Ups

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Split squat

Find yourself in a staggered stance approximately a step forward/back difference, the front foot should be flat and the rear foot should be on the toes (mobility permitting). This would be your start and end position for every repetition.

You’re going to allow your rear knee to move towards the floor, whilst your front knee is moving in a motion forward towards your toes.

When your rear knee is close to touching the ground, pause then push through both legs to reverse the motion to the start position.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

*If your front heel comes off the ground during your repetitions, adjust your stance.

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glute bridge

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Hip Bridge

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45 Back Extension

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RDL

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Trap bar deadlift

Stand in the middle of the hex/trap bar with your feet in approximately a shoulder width stance.

Maintaining a neutral spine, in a synchronised manner bring your hips towards your calves, whilst also allowing your knees to move in the same direction as your toes. You should be able to grab the handles of the bar, if you’re unable to, raise the bar by placing blocks underneath the plates. This is your start and end position

Take a tight grip of the handles and stand, reverse the movement by allowing your knees to move forward and hips down.

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Alternating lunges

With the dumbbell in your hands and to your sides, find yourself in a position where feet are approximately hip width apart

You’re going to take approximately a dynamic step forward, allowing your front knee to move forward whilst the rear knee moves towards the floor. Without pausing in the bottom position, push through the ground to return to a standing position. This is the start and end of every repetition.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

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Goblet squat

Hold the Dumbbell in a vertical manner just below your chin, your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart. This will be your start and end position for every repetition.

Start the movement by allowing your knees to move in the same direction of your toes, whilst your hip is moving towards the platform in a synchronised manner. Once you’ve reach the bottom, pause then push through your legs to return to your starting position.

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Hack Squat

Load the weight plates on to the machine, then place your shoulders underneath the pads whilst setting your feet on the platform approximately shoulder-width apart (this is your start and end position for every rep).

Your feet should be a in position which allows you to push through the centre of your feet.

Extend your knees, and take the hack squat off the lock setting. Start the movement by allowing your knees to move in the same direction of your toes, whilst your hip is moving towards the platform in a synchronised manner. Once you’ve reached the bottom, pause then press through the platform to return to your starting/end position.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

*Focus on keeping your lower back on the back pad, if your back comes of the pad you’ve reached your end range-of-motion.

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back Squat

Have the bar behind your neck, resting on your shoulders.

Your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart. This will be your start and end position for every repetition.

Start the movement by allowing your knees to move in the same direction of your toes, whilst your hip is moving towards the platform in a synchronised manner. Once you’ve reach the bottom, pause then push through your legs to return to your starting position.

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