The ‘Cycle Syncing’ Trend: Is Planning Exercise Around Your Period Key to Fitness Success?

by | Read time: 5 minutes

If you keep an eye out for the latest fitness trends, you may have spotted “cycle syncing” on your feeds or in the headlines recently. The idea is that planning your workouts (and your diet) around the various phrases of your menstrual cycle can help you maximize benefits. As you probably know, women’s hormone levels fluctuate constantly, and these hormones have systemic, or full-body, effects. This means they can affect your mood, energy levels, hunger, digestion, sleep and more. The intention of cycle syncing is to optimize your activity levels according to these hormonal changes.

Woman Cycle Syncing Workouts With Her Period Exercising in Bedroom on Green Mat with Laptop

What are the phases of the menstrual cycle?

A little foggy on what happens during your menstrual cycle? Time for a quick biology refresher! The menstrual cycle consists of four phases, each with a specific role to prepare the body for pregnancy. Each phase comes with different levels of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, all of which have significant effects on the body.

Below is a simplified version of what happens and the relative hormone levels during each phase of the cycle. Note that every body is different, and the timing provided is an estimate that can from person to person.

Menses phase (days 1-5)

Probably the most well-known of the phases, the menses phase is known as your “period.” During this phase, as long as pregnancy hasn’t occurred, the lining of the uterus sheds and prepares the body for another cycle to occur. Estrogen and progesterone levels are on the lower end.

Follicular phase (days 6-14)

During this phase, thickening of the uterine lining and growth of follicles in the ovaries occurs. Estrogen and progesterone levels begin rising.

Ovulation (day 14)

On day 14 (approximately), one of the follicles becomes an egg and is released from the ovary. Estrogen and testosterone levels are at their highest.

Luteal phase (days 15-28)

The egg is now traveling toward the uterus, which is being primed for pregnancy. Progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are all high in this phase, but begin to fall if pregnancy does not occur.

Cycle syncing workouts

While hormones are working to prepare the body for growing a new life, their effects extend beyond the reproductive system. Here’s a basic breakdown of hormones’ roles, how they can affect your physical and mental state and workout suggestions for different phases of your cycle.


In the menstrual cycle, estrogen is responsible for building the uterine lining and helping eggs mature. Estrogen levels are high during the follicular phase and ovulation. During this time, you may notice higher energy and better mood. Running, power yoga and weightlifting are all great options during these phases.


This hormone’s role is to balance estrogen levels and control the growth of the uterine lining to prepare it for implantation. During the luteal phase (especially the latter half), when progesterone levels are up and estrogen levels are dropping, you may experience lower energy levels and some PMS symptoms. This may be a good time for walking, light yoga and stretching.


This hormone is generally lower in women than men, but it still plays an important role in the cycle. Testosterone helps increase sex drive, as well as builds bone and muscle strength. During ovulation, when testosterone and estrogen levels are up, you may feel more energized. You may benefit from HIIT exercise or some heavier strength training.

Is there research to back up benefits of cycle syncing?

Currently, there isn’t a great deal of research on cycle syncing. However, based on exercise performance research looking at both males and females, time of month does not seem to significantly impact performance.

In a study published in Frontiers in Physiology examining the effects of menstrual cycle phases in elite athletes, author Alice Meignié of the French Institute of Sport points out:

”While some female athletes feel a decrease in their physical capacity over the course of their menstrual cycle, Olympic medal-winning performances have nevertheless taken place during all phases of the menstrual cycle.”

It’s important to note that the research was conducted on elite athletes, so it’s possible that hormones affect individuals with higher athletic abilities differently than average exercisers, like you and me.

When it comes down to it, listening to your body and being consistent is a smart approach for anyone. David Neiman, Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus, encourages adjusting your exercise routine based on how you feel rather what cycle phase you’re in.

“Energy and motivation for exercise can be influenced by many factors beyond the menstrual cycle including sleep and diet quality, weather, mental stress, work schedules, etc. The key is to control these factors with a focus on overall health, and make physical activity and exercise training a regular part of daily life (just like eating or sleeping), with adjustments in intensity and workloads based on how one feels.”

That said, learning to listen to your body can be a challenging practice in itself. So, spending some time tracking your cycle and your symptoms, cravings, energy levels, etc. can be a really great way to tune into your body’s response to hormones and how you feel overall. You can then use this information to help plan your workouts, meals and overall expectations when the time comes. You can also utilize your insights to cut yourself some slack with that barbell feels extra heavy or the last mile of your run feels never ending.

To sync or not to sync?

Our bodies are constantly changing, and hormone levels can most definitely impact how we feel and perform. The great thing about the menstrual cycle is that it’s relatively predictable, and tracking it can be an excellent way to learn more about your body’s natural ebbs and flows. So, keep an eye on your cycle, moods and energy levels, and find a workout routine that works best for you.

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