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Training and Your Cycle: Adjusting Your Routine to Your Body's Natural Rhythms

Hogarth Personal Trainer, Shannon Williams shares how hormonal fluctuations experienced during a menstrual cycle can pose a real challenge when it comes to maintaining consistent training habits.

Read on to find out more about each 'season', how you might be feeling alongside suggested exercises.


Did you know that the fluctuation of hormones can affect our strength, energy levels and endurance? You might be thinking “Ah, maybe that’s why that exercise seemed harder today, even though I was following my usual plan”. Well, hopefully this blog will give you a little bit of understanding and answers as to how adapting exercise to our physiology throughout our cycles can be helpful. 

I’m going to share with you what I know and how to make sure you are giving your body a sustainable relationship with exercise. 


Why I Started Exploring Hormones and Training 

Shannon Williams the Hogarth ClubThe hormonal fluctuations experienced during a menstrual cycle can pose a real challenge when it comes to maintaining consistent training habits. During my training as a Personal Trainer, it was not explored how exercise can affect your menstrual cycle, and how your menstrual cycle can affect your exercise performance. 

I personally went through a really rough time with my hormones last year, experiencing irregular, heavy, painful periods which began to take a big toll on my mental health. After countless trips to the doctor only to be told that everything was well and good, it occurred to me that perhaps the amount I was exercising could have been the issue.  

Side note - if you are getting any of the symptoms I listed or are experiencing any unusual hormonal symptoms, please do check it out. It is also important to bear in mind that there are other factors such as sleep, nutrition, gut health, stress management and so on that can affect your hormones as much as exercise.  

Exercise was my go-to solution for managing any mental health issues at the time. The release of endorphins and dopamine hormones would make me feel ‘on top of the world’, and inspired to be the best version of myself (which I should mention is my main ethos as a trainer!). However, when exercise suddenly did not make me feel ‘on top of the world’ like it usually did, I knew there was an issue.  

I went on to do a lot of research around this topic, I was reading ALL the books, listening to ALL the podcasts, and finding ALL the articles I could find to arm myself with the knowledge I needed to tackle this hormonal issues that I was facing. It’s encouraging that this topic is receiving increased recognition, research and discussion. It is important that those who menstruate can receive answers on why their body might be feeling a certain way and to understand how hormonal fluctuations can impact training performance. This knowledge arms us with the ability to understand and work with their bodies, rather than against them. 


The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle 

the Hogarth Club training around your menstrual cycle diagram summary

Okay, it’s time. Let’s dive in and discuss the various stages. First things first, I would like for you to grab your calendar or period tracker and figure out where you are at in your cycle.  

The following information is based on a ‘regular’ 28 day cycle. It’s important to note that some people may have a slightly longer/shorter follicular and luteal phase depending on their own personal cycle.  

It is also worth bearing in mind that birth control can impact one's menstrual cycle, a topic that warrants a separate discussion. In some cases, the use of birth control may result in the absence of periods, making it difficult to track and plan workouts based on the menstrual cycle. In such situations, I suggest adjusting workouts based on energy levels and how the body feels on a given day. For instance, if you wake up feeling low energy or fatigued, opting for low-intensity exercises would be a suitable choice. Please mention how you are feeling to your trainer on the day that you are training, so we can adapt and give you the most appropriate exercises to match how you are feeling.


“Winter” - Early Follicular Phase 

winter season menstrual cycle

The four seasons throughout the year are also used to describe the “hormonal seasons”, the four phases of a menstrual cycle. This first week, while you're on your period, is known as “Winter”. 

During the first few days of your period your energy levels are at their lowest and so are your hormones. 

How Might I Feel? 

You might be dealing with pain, feeling fatigue, feeling low and bloated during this time, and the thought of exercise might make you feel even worse. However, you might have a timeframe on a goal that you need to hit, leading you to push yourself to go to your Personal Training session and demand a HIIT workout or wanting to hit your personal best deadlift because you’ve got a holiday planned or you have a dress for a wedding that you want to fit into. But really, that HIIT workout might set you back because you pushed your body a bit too much and put your body under strain that it couldn’t really handle. 

What Type of Exercise is Best During this Time? 

During this time you really should prioritise rest and recovery above all else, and incorporate more low-impact exercises that put less stress on the body. It's also a good time for self-care practices like meditation and gentle stretching.  

Exercises or classes I recommend during this time are: 

- Yoga

- Stretch-Works

- Pilates

- Light Cardio (e.g Treadmill Walk)

- Bodyweight Exercises (only if you feel up to it)

- Light Swim

In summary:

• Low hormone levels

• Low motivation

• Recovery week


“Spring” - The Follicular Phase 

spring phase menstrual cycle

Spring has sprung! It is just around the corner, the days are getting longer, we got through the worst bit. This is where your oestrogen hormone is beginning to rise. 

How Might I Feel? 

You may feel a sudden increase in energy, however, it’s not time to push your body to the max and hit those personal bests just yet. Due to the rise of oestrogen your ligaments, muscles, joints and bones are more lax which may increase your chance of injury. 

What Type of Exercise is Best During this Time? 

Your body can take on more strain than the week before, so it is all good to do that HIIT session (because that holiday is still approaching!). Before we jump straight into the workout, it is vital during this time to make sure that you thoroughly warm up - because we can’t be having sore backs on that holiday now can we? Especially after all your hard training prep!  

The dominating oestrogen and low progesterone levels during this time mean you are more likely to build lean muscle as the oestrogen hormone is anabolic. This lean muscle will contribute towards the body’s ability to store glycogen.

In summary, this means you will have more energy to burn, and your body can recover a lot quicker, so it's a good time to challenge yourself physically. 

However, it’s important to note that regardless of where you are at in your cycle, you should always listen to how your body feels. If you have any lingering period symptoms, it’s ok to still stick to the recovery, low-intensity exercises as mentioned above in the winter season.  

Exercises I recommend during this time are: 


• Strength Training (not your personal best weight)

• Long Distance Cardio (Watt Bike, Running, Cross Trainer)

• Body pump class

In Summary:

• Oestrogen hormone beginning to rise

• Increased energy levels

• Chance of injury

• Listen to your body


"Summer" - The Ovulatory Phase 

summer menstrual cycle ovulation

Summer is here! Also known as ovulation. This occurs when your oestrogen hormone is at its peak and an egg is released.  

How Might I Feel? 

The peak of oestrogen and a sudden rise of testosterone will make us feel and look our best, giving us that ‘take on the world’ feeling. It is also the time where you may feel the most confident or social, making it a great time to try out a brand new class, or attempt that personal best you’ve been waiting to try for the last two weeks! 

If you’re in Summer, or will be soon, why don’t you check out our array of studio classes and find something new to try? 

What Type of Exercise is Best During this Time? 

The surge of testosterone during this time will help with growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bone mass. It also helps with the rise of energy levels, which makes it a lot easier to push yourself that bit more. 

Workouts I recommend during this time are: 

- Strength Training (Hitting all your personal best weights)


- Running

- Spinning

- Body Pump

Summer Summary!

• Peak of Oestrogen hormone

• Peak energy levels

• Best time to try something new

• The best your body will feel


“Autumn" - The Luteal Phase 

autumn season menstrual cycle

This is the time where things may take a turn. This is your autumn season - scientifically known as your ‘luteal phase’. 

How Might I Feel? 

During this phase your hormones will start to decline and so will your energy. Your oestrogen levels are dropping and your progesterone levels are rising. Higher Progesterone levels can leave the body feeling tired, quicker to exhaust and more likely to overheat. Because of the rise of temperature and the feeling of overheating during your late-luteal phase, this can affect any cardiovascular workouts, so be wary of this. 

The autumn phase is most definitely the hardest to workout in, mainly because of the constant lack of energy, feeling a bit low and your Premenstrual symptoms (PMS) might be kicking in. You might also feel less social, a bit down, and you might be in your head a lot more.  

What Type of Exercise is Best During this Time? 

Exercise during this time can be beneficial as the release of endorphins might shift the ‘slumpy’ feeling for you. Exercise is known to relieve PMS symptoms and improve your quality of sleep.  

As mentioned above about oestrogen being anabolic, progesterone is catabolic, meaning it breaks down muscle. Very similar to the winter season, the late luteal phase is a great time to recover, restore and rest.  

Exercises I suggest during this time are: 

• Light Strength Training

• Yoga

• Walking

• Stretching

• Low-Intensity Cardio


• Decline in energy

• Light exercise can help mood

• Time to recover, restore and rest


In Summary...

All in all, the female anatomy is wonderful, and we go through a lot of hormonal changes, emotions, physical and mental symptoms as well as a fluctuation in energy levels throughout the month. It is important for me to mention that hormones are not the only factor that can affect your energy levels but your sleep, recovery, nutrition, and making sure you are refuelling your body etc can have an impact on your energy levels. 

The main thing to remember is how important it is to listen to your body. For example, you might be in your summer phase, which should be the peak of your energy, however, if you have had a big weekend or did not fuel your body enough yesterday or today, it is ok to take your body through a recovery day and a low-intensity workout. I promise, one rest day will not set you back but instead will make sure that you are ready and recovered to push yourself and make sure that you can reach your goals quicker. 


Thanks for reading! To get in touch with me, or if you have any questions, you can email me at or fill out the contact form below!