I Stopped Cycle Syncing My Workouts–Here’s Why

cycle syncing"
cycle syncing
Source: Unsplash
Source: Unsplash

When a new workout trend crosses my FYP, I immediately research it in detail and then hop on board. After learning about cycle-syncing workouts (working out according to your menstrual cycle—learn more about it here), I knew it would be my next favorite practice—or so I thought. Although I wanted to love the practice because so many women swear by it, it wasn’t for me for several reasons. Below, I dive into why I’m throwing in the towel on the viral trend.  

Why cycle syncing my workouts didn’t work for me

I had to ignore what my body was telling me

Before cycle syncing, I had regularly worked out four to five times each week and noticed a difference in building muscle and strength. I wanted to try switching up workouts according to my cycle because I thought it would help me be more in tune with my body, but months after I started cycle-syncing my workouts, I stopped feeling like I was making progress. In fact, I felt like I was regressing. I found myself craving one type of workout, but my period calendar told me I should do another; if I was in the late luteal phase or menstrual phase, cycle syncing told me I needed to slow down and walk, do gentle yoga, or rest. But some days, my energy felt high, and I was craving weight lifting. Because I don’t love yoga or slow walks on days when I feel more energetic, the lighter workout days would leave me feeling disappointed rather than rested. This would ultimately leave me feeling underwhelmed and uninterested in my workouts. 

Seeking answers as to why I felt this way, I asked Laura Holland, a registered pelvic health physiotherapist, why a method others have found so appealing wasn’t working for my body. “I am all for learning your cycle phases, but automatically slowing down your exercise during your period can be unnecessary because we can feel differently during different phases of our cycle,” Holland explained. Menstrual cycles are not one-size-fits-all, and paying attention to how you feel at any point of your cycle—rather than following a prescribed protocol—may work better for you. “Some people feel the ebbs and flows of their hormones less than others, so they may not notice a period of fatigue or low energy and feel comfortable continuing to exercise, and that’s perfectly healthy.”

In addition to feeling bored due to forcing myself to slow down when craving a more intense workout, cycle syncing also did not align with when my body needed rest. I love a good rest day and find that when my body prefers rest or lighter workout days, it does not align with the cycle syncing schedule. While following the protocol, I pushed myself to work out through days my body begged for a break during the follicular and ovulatory phases (when cycle syncing says to go hard and push yourself). “If your exercise intensity truly matches the energy you have—regardless of the phase of your cycle you’re in—there’s nothing wrong with performing exercise at the intensity you need,” Holland assured.

It was too difficult to plan

I’m a planner through and through. I have not one but three planners that I update at least 10 times a day, so when I initially learned about cycle syncing my workouts, I was very excited about planning out my weeks and months around a fixed workout schedule. However, I often would have to reevaluate my routine and replan my workouts if I got my period earlier (or later) than expected. Because my cycle phases don’t typically align with a 24-28 day cycle and my cycle changes frequently (thanks, perimenopause), the reality is my period won’t ever align with a standard schedule, which meant I had planned workouts out in advance but was consistently having to replan depending on when my period came. Bottom line: It took way too much time to reorganize my workout schedule, and I often ended up working out according to my pre-cycle syncing plan or deleting the workout from my planner altogether.

What I do instead

Now that I’ve officially thrown in the towel on cycle syncing, I’m back to working out in alignment with how I’m feeling as opposed to what cycle syncing tells me I should be doing. I generally plan my workouts around my work schedule. If I have an early meeting, I’ll walk for an hour on my desk treadmill. If I know I will have a light work week, I plan three to four weightlifting workouts from my Alo Moves app. But if I’m feeling bloated, have a headache, or end up feeling low energy or experiencing period symptoms, I don’t push myself and take the time to rest. The difference is that I listen to my body every day rather than following a protocol of what my body is supposed to need through different phases.

While I understand that cycle syncing has worked for many people and can help lessen symptoms of PMS and bloating, it didn’t work for me. That said, I think for some people—specifically those with a predictable cycle—it may be an effective way to learn how to be more in tune with their body’s needs throughout their cycle. But if you already feel in tune with what your body needs? Always trust what your body is telling you first and foremost.

Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning or stopping any treatments, supplements, or medications. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.