FAQ

Can I Work Out On My Period?

8
rumi

Here is yet another article in the FAQ series. I’m grateful to all of you who’ve asked questions in their comments! I will reply depending on the frequency of the questions posted.

This time we shall discuss women’s period (monthly, menstruation) and if it’s safe to work out during this period. I’m really curious to read about your personal experience and I’d be glad if you shared what you do and don’t do during your menstruation 🙂

The short answer is – if you feel good, go ahead and work out. If you don’t feel good – then don’t do any exercises.

The period is not a disease but women’s normal monthly state. So there should be no reason why women should not work out. If, however, the period is painful, no matter where it hurts, then you do not train, simply because you feel sick and not because you’re having your period. You can do some stretching, if this does not cause more pain or discomfort.

Argument from personal experience: I do work out during my period, especially when I have to catch up with my video schedule. But if I have no videos to shoot, I take it easy during the first two days. Usually, the first day my stomach might ache, if I use the abdominal muscles. That’s why I make fewer pushups during this day and I don’t jump; I work out only with body weight. Also, if the first day of my period is suitable to take a rest (I have had times when I work out without any rest), I take this as a sign that I should have a break. From the third day on I can train at a normal pace.

PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
From my experience as a certified personal trainer: about 30% of ladies I work with ask if they can train during their menstruation. This comes to show that they consider this time special and expect some difference. I think that commercials have made us believe this is the case, as they suggest the existence of PMS (I also thought that I have a severe form of PMS!!!).

Truth is, the moment you stop considering your period as extraordinary and you stop thinking that you get tremendous sweet hunger, you stop feeling any severe hunger at all. After two or three months of regular workouts almost all of my clients say that their period is much milder (even men do :-D!) There is no more swelling and the PMS is alleviated (the reason might well be that I keep on telling them that there is no PMS ;-)).

Also, the sweet hunger anticipating the menstruation is a myth! I know that you can feel it and you think that it’s something real, but in fact you’ve let them plant it in your mind!

Now I’ll plant another idea in your mind. Please, leave a comment tomorrow if you’ve had a dream about it, or if you’ve thought about it… I have just a couple of lines to influence you, so I’ll be harsh 😉

Picture yourself while on your period, wearing no underwear, no sanitary pad or tampon, riding a horse along a dirty dusty road; dust covers your skin and it gets in your mouth. After several hours of riding you go home and wash the blood stains from the horse’s back.

That’s enough! Let’s see what I’ve suggested to you 🙂

Period and flexibility

Photo source: Wikipedia
Menstrual Cycle
In Bio Fit sports college, in the bodybuilding specialty (meaning muscle building and strengthening workouts) we had Assoc. Prof. Boyanov, who warned us to be very careful with strengthening exercises when it comes to women’s second part of the period. He argued that increased levels of progesterone after ovulation make women more flexible. So there should be extra care for exercises with big weights during this time. We are talking about considerable weights, though, which I don’t use in my workouts at home, such as squatting with +40 kg. Remember, the second part of your menstruation cycle is no time for personal record-breaking!

I don’t want to discuss the aspect of hormones, but I will only mention that the first half of the menstruation cycle is dominated by the hormone estrogen, and after ovulation – by progesterone. Have a look at the photo to see how hormones change over the month.

The enhanced flexibility after ovulation might be used to train the level of flexibility as a whole. In this case you should be very careful that you don’t overdo it and cause traumas. Following the same principle, professional athletes take doping way before competitions – they build muscles, enhance their performance, their bodies adapt to the new top results and when they stop taking doping they have a slight drop in their performance, but they have achieved a higher level compared to what they had achieved before. Also, there is enough time for their bodies to get cleansed from the doping. So, use progesterone as natural doping to develop your flexibility 🙂

I’m curious to see if you train during your period. Do you do anything different? Also, don’t forget to share with me tomorrow if you have had any weird thoughts about menstruation and horses…
😀 😀 😀

P.S. My mind is really going wild today – menstruation, horses, flexibility… 😀

8 comments

  1. louise 4 July, 2013 at 07:16 Reply

    Hi Rumi
    Some interesting posts recently – Sicily looks amazing – I’ve always wanted to go there.
    Your comment about horses made me think of tv adverts for sanitary towels/tampons that always show women (usually wearing white) laughing and enjoying their periods. Never do they show anything as real as washing out blood stains! Maybe they should 😀
    P.s. have been using my enhanced flexibility as you suggested – never noticed before but I’m definitely more stretchy at certain time in the month.

  2. Sarah 11 November, 2013 at 23:31 Reply

    Hey Rumi,
    As I started doing your exercises I have noticed a change in my menstrual cycle. Usually I have menses every 5 days earlier than the previous date meaning. If I had menses on 10 october I will have next cycle on 5th november. but regularly doing your exercises I’m getting it on 2nd november instead of 5th. like they come earlier!! Does this have something to do with my diet which hasn’t changed. I eat egg in breakfast, apple in lunch, and rice or potatoes in dinner.
    Regards

    • Rumi 11 November, 2013 at 23:38 Reply

      Sarah, I don’t know the real reason for this. I have a theory – exercises improve healt and make you more fertile. So you have often ovum 🙂

  3. shobhaajithan 28 November, 2013 at 06:51 Reply

    I follow you via face book postings, really you work hard to maintain your six packs the other day I told my trainer about you and I said I can have only one pack that is my tummy, since I under went c-section for the delivery. During first two days of my periods I don’t work out but the third day I do work out when I get that 2 days break I feel so happy. Please provide some easy exercises for reducing the tummy part.

    • Rumi 28 November, 2013 at 13:08 Reply

      shobhaajithan, reducing tummy or any trouble zone you need a calorie deficit. Tumy exercises work out tumy muscles which is different from tummy fat.

  4. Amy Freeman 12 May, 2015 at 15:14 Reply

    Thanks for the work out tips. I disagree about there being no such thing as PMS, though the term “syndrome” seems silky to me.

    Every month, the week before my period, I get more acne. I don’t have sweet hunger, but I do have cravings like so ethung is missing from my diet and I don’t know what; sometimes carb cravings like fruit or bread. I have mire air in my tummy all week which j can confuse with hunger, I feel more anxiety abd tears, and a couple days before my period, I feel very cranky and sad. I have slight water retention all week, and get sore everywhere starting a day or two before. I also get semi constipated. As soon as my period starts, all these difficulties go away…and then the “period poop.” I know they are really happening in my body, because I often domt notice it’s around the time of the period and keep asking myself what is wrong. And then I wake up one morning and it’s so much is better ! Except more soreness. Wow! What happened.? Then my period starts. Oh, duh.

    PMS is a thing, but the term “syndrome” seems silly to me. My pre-period week is always much better when I’ve been exercising regularly and have been eating enough calcium and magnesium. My hunch is that some of your clients improve not becaus you tell them there is no such thing, but because they have been exercising. In many, that is enough to alleviate symptoms.

    Note: If someone has been very intense with exercise and/ or not eating enough or enough fats, or is very stressed out, it’s very possible to have a period without actually ovulating before hand. In such cases, there would probably be very little pre-period difficulties.

    • Rumi 12 May, 2015 at 15:28 Reply

      Thank your for your opinion. I know what you are talking about. I feel sad sometimes and usually I am very optimistic and my period starts and sadness gone. BUT the thing is that many women use the period for excuse to eat enourmous amount of sweet and junk food because it is this time of the month. I am not sure why PMS improve, may be because of exercise.

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