Ladies: Should You Cycle-Sync Your Training?


, by Jazmine Lowther

Photography by: Rido

There’s an audible buzz around revolutionary ways to improve women’s health and fitness in the wake of an increased focus on studying female athletes. New training methodologies are being touted to help women train more efficiently for their bodies. The head-turner, “cycle-syncing training,” warrants consideration for any female athlete.

What is Cycle Syncing Your Training?

Cycle-syncing your training means adjusting your training, nutrition, recovery, and mental habits with hormonal and menstrual symptom fluctuations.

Why bother?

Nutrition and training interventions may provide different results during each menstrual phase. Seizing opportune moments within the menstrual cycle can enhance training benefits, prevent injury and illness, and further progress an athlete. Training with your body's state may also psychologically boost your trust and confidence.

An Example of Syncing Training to a Menstrual Cycle

Days 1-5: Menstruation (early follicular phase): listen to your body

During menstruation or bleeding, hormone levels are low but slowly rising. Energy levels may be low but also increasing. Athletes can experience fatigue, cramping, bloating, backaches, and more, which may impact training.

  • Exercise: Focus on thorough warm-ups, aerobic exercise, and maintaining a strength regime.

  • Nutrition: Increase iron-rich foods and pair them with vitamin C sources for best absorption (3). Vitamin K and Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce heavy bleeding and inflammation.

RELATED: How Women Can Train Differently Than Men

Days 5 -13: Mid Follicular: train hard

In the follicular phase, energy levels increase as estrogen and testosterone surge. Muscle synthesis increases, enhancing the benefits of strength training (5).

  • Exercise: Focus on personal bests, high-intensity workouts, and strength training.

  • Nutrition: Support high-energy training demands with complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Eat cruciferous vegetables, fermented foods, healthy fats, and leafy greens for optimal estrogen.

Photography by: Jacob Lund

Days 14 to 15: Ovulation: high energy

You may notice a pinching sensation on one side of your lower abdomen a day before or the day of ovulation. This is an egg that is released from one of your ovaries. Estrogen and testosterone peak, and you’ll likely feel energetic, confident, and radiant (4).

  • Exercise: Similar to mid follicular. Additionally, caution may be warranted for contact sports, agility, or technical skills as there is an increased risk of injury due to increased ligament laxity with peaking estrogen (1).

  • Nutrition: Similar to follicular. Reduce ovulation discomfort with calcium and magnesium, found in dairy products, nuts, and seeds. Consider increased protein, collagen, vitamin C, copper, and glycine intake to enhance ligament strength (2).

RELATED: Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms Female Athletes Don't Want To Ignore

Days 16 to 28: Luteal phase: energy may wane

Progesterone rises, and estrogen follows. Cramping may occur as the uterine lining is prepared to be shed. Your metabolic and protein needs increase. Pre-menstrual symptoms experienced may include changes in mood and temperature; decreased motivation, confidence, and pain tolerance; increased acne, inflammation, water retention, desire for carbohydrates, and recovery needs (4).

  • Exercise: Gentle, lower-intensity, endurance training, or give yourself some grace if you’re not feeling 100% in a workout.

  • Nutrition: Complex carbohydrates, high fiber, and starchy foods. Dark chocolate, fruit, berries, nuts, and seeds are great options for sweets. Potassium-rich foods like bananas and sweet potatoes reduce bloat. Black currants, tart cherry juice, and caffeine may facilitate fat oxidation and increase time to exhaustion (3). As menstruation approaches, consider supplementing with iron, magnesium, omega-3s, and vitamin D. Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any supplement regime.

Potential Drawbacks of Cycle Syncing

You might hold yourself back. Avoiding high-intensity or strength training workouts because you “might” feel a certain way may stunt your progress. During phases with lower energy, female athletes who are aware of their cycle may have an increased rate of perceived exertion. Even if it feels harder, athletes can often still hit their athletic abilities in sports (1).

It can be tedious. Planning training programs can be challenging; add in cycle syncing, and it is an additional step. Work with a coach who is well educated, or use a menstrual tracking app to help.

More research is needed. More studies are needed to conclude the benefits and protocols of altering training and nutrition with the menstrual cycle.

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It’s Individual

Every woman’s menstrual cycle will vary in length and symptomology. Solidify your understanding of your hormones and body’s needs with menstrual tracking apps so you can better serve yourself with optimized nutrition and training. Caution, though: don’t hold yourself back if you’re feeling good, even if you are in what a textbook says is a “low energy phase.”

Regardless, you’ll likely feel empowered by training and fueling alongside your menstrual cycle.


  1. Balachandar, V., Marciniak, L., Wall, O., & Balachandar, C. (2017). Effects of the menstrual cycle on lower-limb biomechanics, neuromuscular control, and anterior cruciate ligament injury risk: A systematic review. Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, 7(1), 136-146.

  2. Close, G., Sale, C., Baar, K., & Bermon, S. (2018). Nutrition for the Prevention and Treatment of Injuries in Track and Field Athletes. Human Kinetics Journal.

  3. Helm, M. M., McGinnis, G. R., & Basu, A. (2021). Impact of Nutrition-Based Interventions on Athletic Performance during Menstrual Cycle Phases: A Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(12), 6294.

  4. Hromatko, I., & Mikac, U. (2023). A Mid-Cycle Rise in Positive and Drop in Negative Moods among Healthy Young Women: A Pilot Study. Brain Sciences, 13(1), 105.

  5. James, J. J., Leach, O. K., Young, A. M., Newman, A. N., Mpongo, K. L., Quirante, J. M., Wardell, D. B., Ahmadi, M., & Gifford, J. R. (2023). The exercise power-duration relationship is equally reproducible in eumenorrheic female and male humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.

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