Break a sweat before dawn or bust a move after work? Lunch time lunges or late-night laps? It’s the age-old question that so many women struggle with, but few can confidently answer: what’s the best time of day to work out?
I’m about to demystify this dilemma for you, but let’s begin by stating the obvious: women are not men. Obvious? Yes. Always acknowledged? Don’t bet on it. When we look at research measuring exercise performance at various times of day, it’s so important to understand that the majority of these studies focus on male subjects. This was pretty neatly summed up in 2010 New York Times article called “What Exercise Science Doesn’t Know About Women”:
“Scientists know, of course, that women are not men. But they often rely on male subjects exclusively, particularly in the exercise-science realm, where, numerically, fewer female athletes exist to be studied. But when sports scientists recreate classic men-only experiments with distaff subjects, the women often react quite differently…In the meantime, female athletes should view with skepticism the results from exercise studies that use only male subjects. As Dr. Rowlands says — echoing a chorus of men before him — when it comes to women, there’s a great deal that sports scientists ‘just don’t understand.’”
How Women Can Time Their Workouts
So if these studies can’t help you crack the code on when to hit the gym, how can you create a sustainable exercise schedule that delivers results and fits into your busy life? By relying on the intuitive wisdom of your hormones, of course!
If you’re already a fan of FLO Living, then you’ve heard me talk quite a bit about synchronizing your diet to your natural hormonal fluctuations. It’s a system I call cycle-syncing, and it’s the key to completely transforming your overall health. But cycle-syncing isn’t just for food; it’s a perfect strategy to apply in all areas of your life — including workouts. Your body isn’t the same every single day, and if you’re truly living in your FLO, you’ll be eating, exercising, socializing, and getting romantic in ways that perfectly complement and enhance the assets of each phase of your cycle. Running every single morning at 6 a.m. or sticking to just one kind of conditioning class each and every evening won’t get you real results. By modifying the type of activities you do each day and adjusting the timing of your workouts depending on the time of the month, you’ll play to your strengths all cycle long.
Just like food, exercise is an essential tool for achieving and maintaining optimal endocrine health. But understanding how to implement this powerful tool is key — despite what popular culture and social media stars would have you believe, more is not better when it comes to getting fit, and strategically syncing up your cycle with your workouts is the only way to ensure real results and happy, healthy hormones.
How Long Should Your Workout Really Be?
It takes about 30 minutes of exercise to burn through all the glucose in your bloodstream. Once that’s gone, you start forcing your adrenal glands to pump out cortisol to get your fat cells to convert into sugar for the blood stream. While this may seem like a surefire way to melt unwanted pounds, that’s not the case for women with too much estrogen (the most common root cause of period problems, fertility issues, and other forms of hormonal chaos). When your body is overloaded with estrogen, the circulating sugar gets converted to fat, perpetuating a vicious cycle (and this is assuming your adrenals are working perfectly — not the case for many super stressed women).
Exercising for more than 30 minutes at a time puts undue stress on your adrenal glands by causing cortisol to skyrocket and any excess estrogen to encourage further fat production. Rather than wasting hours on the elliptical, focus your efforts with a 30-minute session that fits the categories below.
My Go-To Exercise Schedule For Women
So without further ado, here’s your phase-by-phase, no-brainer guide to cycle-syncing your workouts and finding the best time of day to reap the biggest rewards:
Workout: Walk – keep your workouts mild, even if you’re not feeling major discomfort.
When: An evening stroll is the perfect way to get some simple movement.
Follicular Phase: The week or so after your period
When: Mid-day – your estrogen will be low and your cortisol levels will be just right for a challenging cardio burst.
Workout: Intense cardio, dance, or bodyweight circuit
When: Early morning – you’ll have tons of energy during this time of the month, so take advantage of that natural high! Your testosterone is higher during this phase, so whatever you do, feel free to go all out!
Workout: Pilates, yoga
When: Keep it early during the first half, and then transition into the early evening. You might still feel full of energy during the first days of your luteal phase, so feel free to keep kicking butt in more intense workouts early in the day. But if you start to experience PMS symptoms in the days before your period, it’s time to tone it down and switch to Pilates or strength training in the early evening. Restorative (yin) yoga before bed can also be hugely helpful in combatting issues like moodiness and bloat.
But the only real way to nip those symptoms in the bud for good is to fix the hormonal issue once and for all. If you’re ready to kiss symptoms goodbye forever, then MonthlyFLO is for you!
Happy, hormone-friendly workouts, ladies!
Introducing the BALANCE by FLO Living Hormone Supplement Kit
You’ve been asking me for hormone-friendly supplement recommendations, and I finally have created a solution that I am so thrilled to be able to offer to you on your hormonal balancing journey:
Balance by FLO Living Supplements are a complete package that work together to keep your hormone levels healthy. They include a 2 month (2 cycle) supply of the following formulations so you’re never caught short in any phase of your cycle.
When you take these 5 supplements daily, you’ll be giving your body excellent micronutrients to support healthier hormone levels. Which means that you’ll start to see your worst period symptoms get better… and even disappear after a while.